“When we’re looking at our roster and looking at that attacking midfield position – whether it’s left, center or right – we look for different profiles,” head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter said Friday. “He fits a different profile than what we have. He’s a very good dribbler, very good passer, and we think he’s going to add another dimension to our attack.”
And while Berhalter admits “it’s going to be tough” to keep all four of their wing options happy, he says each of the players offers a different set of skills.
“Cedrick is a guy who’s very good one-on-one, likes to stay wide,” Berhalter said. “Justin likes to hang out in the pocket and get the ball and turn. Ethan is a guy that likes to go behind. Now you have those profiles, and with Emil you have a guy who’s also in the pocket, but from that pocket is good at penetrating.”
Berhalter said he will “talk to the guys a lot” about the situation, but says the team’s success should be enough to sell them on sharing time.
“Everyone wants to be on a good team,” he said. “To have a good team, you need good players. That’s part of it. We’re trying to make a deep team and a better team than last year.”
Another part of the equation will be the availability of the four players.
Finlay was called into his first US national team camp this month, while Mabwati and Meram are fairly entrenched in their own national-team pictures.
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“Look at that position,” Berhalter said. “You have Ethan who could potentially be gone, Justin we know [will be] gone, Cedrick [will be] gone, and all the sudden we’re thin. So part of preparing this roster is looking at that, looking at the international windows and time missed and national team stuff and making decisions.”
Berhalter says Larsen will join Crew SC when he gets his visa. And when he does join the team, the “versatile” midfielder will be expected to make his presence known.
“He’ll make an impact,” Berhalter said. “I would suspect that he’ll be pushing for minutes and pushing to be a starter. That’s his intention, and he’s a quality player.”
Midfielders aren’t Berhalter’s only focus. The team currently has only 2016 MLS Superdraft picks as backups to prolific scorer Kei Kamara, and Berhalter says the roster won’t remain that way.
“We will bring someone in in that position,” he said.