17. Connor Lade
Pos: D/M | New York Red Bulls | Age: 22
Thierry Henry has called Lade the “player of the season” for the New York Red Bulls. It’s a massive compliment for an academy product who didn’t come into his 2012 rookie season with high expectations. But he slowly grew on manager Hans Backe for his energy, work rate and fearlessness despite his 5-foot-7 frame. It also helps when you can play multiple positions, which is no easy feat for a player just emerging from the college ranks. Lade has featured at left back, right back and on both sides of midfield, shaking off mistakes like a veteran. No wonder Henry is full of praise: “I’m a big fan of him,” said the Frenchman.
What the TDs and coaches like: “He’s a different animal. He’s a real blue-collar kid that loves his role on that team. … He seems to have a good idea of what his positive traits are and his limitations and he hides his limitations very well. … That club loves him and the players love him because he’s a guy who will do anything to have his team succeed. That should be an automatic trait for a lot of young guys, but that’s not always the case. … He seems like he’s growing. He’s very steady and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. … Connor is a player that took his lumps early on this season. He has been very resilient. … The Red Bulls feel they need to put him on the field to be successful. … He’s got great physical qualities. He’s gotten a lot tougher. He’s comfortable on the ball … He’s been a very pleasant surprise this year. … He’s not the biggest guy, so he’s got to rely on good positioning and his speed. … He’s pretty tactically clued in … Good player for a small guy... Good with both feet ... His tactical awareness allows him to play many positions ... Lade is a player who's not afraid, a competitor ... New York will find it incredibly difficult not to have him on the field. ... He's got an incredible work rate. He's a smart player. He's just someone who has those intangibles to find a way to get on the field in any role and do it well. ... He's not a tremendous soccer player, but he's got a big heart and he always does something to make you think he'll find a way to retain his spot. Those guys are not easy to find … Every single team in the league would like to have players with that kind of determination and passion. ... He brings it every single game. You know what you're going to get from him.”
Where the TDs and coaches want improvement: “He needs to trust himself more, to be his own player and not always look to give the ball to the established stars … I think the final piece for him will be knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are, and staying toward your strengths.”
Opta Says: Of players under 24 who have made 20 appearances or fewer in MLS this year, Connor Lade is third in interceptions with 54 (Austin Berry, Amobi Okugo – 73).
|Tale of the Tape|
|Last Year in 24U24: N/A|
|Fan Ranking: #18|
|Castrol Index (as of 9/11/12): #248|
|Matches played: 20|
|Matches started: 17|
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