Photo: Earl Gardner
Editor’s note: In Philadelphia, we’re all familiar with rants about sports. So once a year, PSP’s writers take several days to just flat out rave about players. They may not be the best players, but they’re players we like. Here’s another one in our Raves series.
So the general consensus is that the United States Men’s National Team is thin at the fullback position, right?
Have I got an answer for you.
Sometimes I wonder, if Williams played for one of the “big clubs” in MLS, whether he would have already been called into a camp or two. Heck, it took a blistering first half and a groundswell of clamoring within the League PR ranks to get Jack McInerney a look — and the MNT seems to have more depth at forward than at right back at the moment.
But Sheanon keeps doing his job. And when his coach calls on him to do someone else’s job (i.e., when Amobi Okugo was sent off a few weeks ago), he does that too. Remarkably well in fact, helping his team post a clean sheet against Montreal the week after getting absolutely drubbed by New England.
Williams has wide variety in his style of play. In the Nowak years, he would rumble up the touchline like an overly caffeinated ram, providing width on a team that generally lacked it. In more recent times he has cooled his jets a bit when it comes to running the flanks. Maybe that’s a function of having a younger guy like Okugo learning the center back position on the fly. Or maybe it’s because the interplay with automatic right winger Danny Cruz just isn’t there. In any case, he is certainly one of the stars on this youthful squad.
And then there’s his set pieces.
Early in the season, when service was greatly lacking from the midfield (like it’s changed much), Sheanon loaded up the long throw-in. His heaves have set up at least three goals this season. When he first burst onto the scene back in 2010, his Delapian throws were often fruitless, with Philadelphia lacking a large target for his cannonballs. Insert Conor Casey, and it has become a real weapon. In fact, they were so effective that it begs the question of whether teams avoid putting the ball into touch on his side in their defensive third.
2014 is shaping up to be much less complicated than the combined years of 2012 and 2013. With the roster metamorphosis hopefully completed this offseason, Williams should continue to be one of the leaders on this team. He is one of the few consistencies that has remained from the 2011 playoff team, and, at 23 years of age, he should be key to the future of this franchise. Sheanon is a beast at fullback, and it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the league — and perhaps Jurgen Klinsmann — realizes it.