Several years ago whilst Jose Mourinho was managing Chelsea, Bryson played on his older brother’s soccer team. He was two years younger than the rest of the team, and lacked the technical skill to be much of an offensive player, but he could win the ball and make simple passes. I started calling him “Claude” in practices in honor of Claude Makalele, Chelsea’s French holding mid-fielder. The players on that team had no idea what I was talking about, but “Claude” was a sufficiently funny name for a tiny player who had little or no interaction with his older teammates so it stuck.
With the passage of time, Bryson improved considerably and became a proficient offensive player and regular goal scorer. He has in the last several years played every position on the field. Personally, I preferred a more attacking role, but this week has undeniably brought about the return of Claude Makalele.
In the first game of the week, Bryson was part of a three man interchanging mid-field and flourished to the extent he was picked for a pool game that night. In the pool game, Bryson played the holding role exclusively. He retained possession, distributed and switched the ball and was selective I’m pushing forward. In the game this morning, he was again in the Makalele role and seemed to embrace it. I do not know the inner workings of the ODP system, but it was plainly evident that he is perceived in that role.
The team won comfortably this morning 4-0 over Arkansas. Whatever anxieties that the players and more likely the parents have suffered over this event and how it may or may not advance their son to the EPL or USMNT, it must be said that this group comprised of our state’s younger boy’s born in 1998 has played three very strong game dominating possession with no small measure of skill and cohesiveness. While regarded as the “third” team, they have not been out of their depth.
Teams are temporal existing in a space for a limited amount of time never to be seen again. Tomorrow this boy’s will play their final game as a team. There is no title to be won, but I hope they embrace their final game together as a chance to honor their collective talents. I have enjoyed watching them.
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