The Upgrade: Defensive midfielders who are surging in EA SPORTS FIFA 17

Wil Trapp - Columbus Crew SC - isolated - captain's armband

Welcome to The Upgrade, a series tracking MLS players in EA SPORTS FIFA 17. Check out the previous installment here!

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for us to have a chat about the players who have perhaps the least enviable hard work and responsibility to glory ratio of anyone on a soccer field -- the defensive midfielders.

It’s true that these guys are often the glue holding their whole teams together on the field and in the locker room, but when your squad lives and dies by your consistency, it’s not always easy to stay in everyone’s good graces. One or two mistakes could mean a whole stadium of supporters calling for your head. Fair? Not really but, hey, them’s the breaks.

That’s the kind of pressure defensive midfielders are under all the time while they’re on the field. To succeed in this position, that gravity has to be something you thrive on. It has to thrill you. If you’re a d-mid in MLS, knowing that you’re The Guy™ is what gets you up in the morning.

Even though all of that hard work might not always get noticed on the field, FIFA 17 is absolutely on top of making sure that the guys who get out there and earn it every week are getting their dues. This week was no different.

First up, Cristian Roldan! A big round of applause for what is probably the most overdue upgrade of the season. After both coming into his own as one of the key members of a star-studded Seattle Sounders side and moonlighting at just about every position on the pitch, Roldan earned himself a pretty substantial upgrade. His OVR increased by two points to 71, his POT moved up to 78, and he nabbed a series of other attribute boosts that highlight his abilities on both sides of the ball. Crossing, dribbling, long passing, interceptions, heading accuracy, vision… you name it, he’s got it. Yes, the Sounders are still battling to find their form, but Roldan continues to be a bright spot.

Next on the list is Columbus Crew SC’sWil Trapp, who is still just 24 years old even though he’s been playing for Columbus for what feels like several decades. The midfielder’s FIFA profile took a hit during the black and yellow’s rough season in 2016, but Crew SC are flying high again and Trapp is doing his thing. This week, he got a two-point boost in short passing, which puts him at a 79, and a five-point boost in vision, which puts him at a 62 in that category. Frankly, I’m shocked it’s that low. Trapp has been a deep-lying playmaker from his spot for several seasons now, and he’s done a darn good job of actually making plays. Let’s see if he can keep that up.

Trapp’s new teammate Artur has also copped himself an upgrade this week. The 21-year old Brazilian hasn’t played exclusively as a defensive midfielder this season, but he’s proven himself worthy of rounding out a midfield corps that said goodbye to Tony Tchani earlier in the campaign. His contributions are showing up in the win column for Columbus this season, and he’s earned boosts in short passing (75), dribbling (73), interceptions (65), and vision (55).

Closing out our list of defensive midfielder who made a splash this week is the Portland Timbers' David Guzman. Guzman arrived from Saprissa prior to the beginning of this season among a flurry of Costa Rican players and made himself at home right from the start. He eats up a lot of the ground that Diego Chara isn’t already covering, is reliable in possession, and can absolutely pick out a pass. When Portland’s attack is firing on all cylinders, it’s usually because Guzman is helping to provide a stable platform upon which they can build. This week, he earned upgrades in long passing (72), vision (65), composure (71), standing tackle (65), and sliding tackle (62), which bumped his OVR up to 70, and his POT up to 73. Guzman is entering the prime of his playing years right now at the age of 27, and is really settling into this Timbers squad, which should be terrifying news for any midfielder that has to do battle with him.