LAUDERHILL, Fla. – When he was pressed on Friday for the position he preferred to play, projected No. 1 SuperDraft pick Christian Dean didn't hesitate: center back.
Now we know why.
Dean moved to left center back for the second half of Sunday's 1-1 draw between NitroCharge and adiZero and for the first time in the 2014 adidas MLS Player Combine, Dean found his groove. He was decisive and well-positioned to put out fires along the backline.
"Yeah, definitely. It was a lot better than the previous game," Dean told MLSsoccer.com in reference to the first match on Friday when he played exclusively at left back. "Especially during the second half, I thought defensively it was better."
It shouldn't come as a surprise that he's more at ease as a left center back. He's played this entire season at the position for the University of California, converting from left back more than a year ago.
"A lot more comfortable. Just more calm on the ball," Dean commented on his showing as a central defender. "It was a lot better than left back, I felt, especially defensively."
The main knock on the 6-foot-3 defender is his one-on-one defending and he admits that he is working on improving that aspect of his game.
But he also feels that "being in the middle [at center back], there's not as much 1-v-1 defending," which means he's not as exposed as he was on the opening matchday at left back, when he was beaten on a few individual battles.
Dean has one last chance to impress in Tuesday's Combine finale and send coaching staffs and media to the SuperDraft with a clear idea of why he has been touted as a potential No. 1 selection by D.C. United. And he knows where he has to play to do it.
"Hopefully next game I get to play center back the full game or if I sit out a half, maybe the second half of play," he said. "I'd like to play center back next game."