Jonathan Spector has been out for multiple games while dealing with concussion problems. Other Lions have filled the void, but what happens when the captain returns to action and is 100% healthy? With two strong candidates who have played in his absence at center back, an argument can be made for both of them.
Tarek has been a fabulous addition for Orlando City, and his play on the pitch speaks for itself. He has excelled in his center back position with and without Spector alongside him, being arguably the most reliable center back that Orlando City has had throughout the beginning of the season, playing 613 minutes — more than any other center back on the squad so far.
Tarek’s play has also benefited the offense for Orlando City. In addition to Tarek averaging about five clearances a game, he also produces solid long balls down the pitch, creating counter attack opportunities for Dom Dwyer, Chris Mueller, and others. He has also been able to shut down opponents throughout the season with his physical play and his ability to fly around the final third and intercept attacking chances from opposing offenses.
As stated before, Amro has probably been the most healthy and reliable player at center back that Jason Kreis has at his disposal. Tarek has played all 90 minutes of every game except one, going 73 minutes in the 4-3 victory over New York Red Bulls, before suffering a minor injury. Tarek has been a solid option week in and week out for Kreis, and he has been convincing as a guy who can play in the starting 11 every week, even with a healthy Spector and Lamine Sané.
As for the other option Jason Kreis has in this center back triangle, Sané is much like Spector in that he acts as a coach on the field and also has experience overseas in Europe with Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga, much like Spector, who played for Birmingham City in England.
Sané’s entrance to Orlando City didn’t start right away due to injury, but when fully healthy he has been a superb option for Kreis on the back line. Sané averages nearly three tackles to go along with four interceptions per game, so, like Tarek, he also has a knack of picking off opposing passes and clearing the ball.
Tarek does not quite have Sané’s ability to manage the back line, as well as barking at defensive midfielders to move into the correct spots on the pitch at game speed. Sané has also dealt with numerous right backs to guide while Tarek has dealt only with Mohamed El-Munir, who has played extraordinarily at left back. Sané’s ability to guide the back line and use his veteran leadership to boost players gives him an edge over Tarek, but not a significant one.
So What Does Kreis Do?
Kreis has an interesting predicament that most managers in MLS would kill for. The gaffer has three quality center backs at his disposal to use however he wants. When Spector returns, Kreis will have to decide if he wants two veteran center backs leading the back line or if he wants to have Spector lead the defense alongside a crafty, young, and athletic Tarek.
There’s really no wrong answer here. All three of his options at center back can give him quality play that he can rely on in front of Joe Bendik, which could lead to more clean sheets and more victories for Orlando City.
So, should Tarek or Sané start alongside Jonathan Spector when he returns? Vote and comment below.
Who would you rather see starting next to Jonathan Spector when he returns?
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