Welcome to the Upgrade, a series tracking MLS players in EA SPORTS FIFA 17. Check out the previous installment here!
This week, we’re focusing on a couple of USMNT hopefuls who look absolutely determined to push their way into Bruce Arena’s line of sight ahead of this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
With World Cup qualifiers also on the horizon, the USMNT will have to test just how deep the player pool actually is, which makes this the perfect time for MLSers who normally find themselves on the outside looking in to step up. So how can we make some predictions? By checking out their FIFA 17 ratings, of course.
Juan Agudelo, New England Revolution
Ladies and gentlemen it’s time to talk about Juan Agudelo … again. The streaky striker has found himself in and out of the US setup over the years. Still, his roller-coaster swings in form, fitness, and club situations have kept him from emerging as a top forward option —in real life and in FIFA — up to this point.
But that might be about to change. As others on this site have pointed out, Agudelo has scored 13 goals and added three assists over his last 17 matches, and notched an impressive brace against the defending MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders last weekend.
Much like USMNT fans, EA has taken notice of his recent exploits, and boosted his dribbling, finishing, reactions, stamina, and positioning attributes a couple of points each. It’s not too much, but it’s a nice little upgrade for a player who has been so hot and cold in the past.
If, over his next 13 matches or so, he nets around seven goals and three assists, he could be due for a big upgrade. Consistency is everything for a striker, and if Agudelo can prove he’s turned a corner, big things are on the horizon.
Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders
That’s exactly what emerging Sounders star midfielder Cristian Roldan has done this season. Whether he’s been deployed at right back, d-mid, attacking mid, or as a dogged box-to-box menace alongside Ozzie Alonso, he’s done everything asked of him and more. In fact, Roldan’s importance has been magnified by a less-than-efficient attack that’s still in the process of sputtering to life. Without Roldan, the Sounders might be in a deep hole right now.
Roldan, whose tendencies have changed since he first came into the league as more of a No. 10, got FIFA upgrades in some areas you might expect this week. His tackling, interceptions, long passing, and dribbling attributes were all bumped up at least a couple of points, showcasing what a well-rounded start to the season he’s had as a player.
He really has improved in all of those areas since the season began, and if he wants to run this Seattle midfield en route to another title, he’ll have to keep improving. We’ll see whether he can, and whether the folks at EA will notice.
The fact that Roldan and FC Dallas’ Kellyn Acosta, who we talked about last week, are emerging as real leaders on their respective teams at the same time is a huge boon for the USMNT. In my humble opinion, they should absolutely, positively be using the Gold Cup to bridge the gap between an aging midfield core, and a wave of youngsters who haven’t yet been given a chance to run the show. If you’re looking for a central midfield pair that could yank the controls away from the incumbents very soon, it’s hard to look past these two.