We are continuing on with our coverage of potential SuperDraft prospects for the Chicago Fire. To go back and read other posts in this series, please head over to our story stream here. This installment is all about Ben Sweat - a left back from the University of South Florida.
Name: Ben Sweat
College: University of South Florida
Height/Weight: 6'2"/170 lbs.
Ben Sweat is a Florida boy from Palm Harbor. In high school, he was named Pinellas County Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010 by the St. Petersburg Times. In 2009, Sweat helped lead Palm Harbor High's soccer team to a Florida State 5A championship. They followed up that season as runners-up in Florida State's 6A division.
Sweat has been a fixture in the starting lineup at South Florida since arriving on campus. Currently, he is ranked number 75th overall on TopDrawer Soccer’s 100 list and he is listed 7th on TopDrawer’s MLS SuperDraft Big Board.
Sweat has also spent a season with USL PDL side Reading United AC. He was part of the Reading United lineup line up that faced the New York Red Bulls in the third round of the 2013 U.S. Open Cup. He will also be attending the MLS SuperDraft Player Combine in January.Combine
There is a lot of video on Sweat, and if there is one thing to be sure of, he is a player who likes to get forward into the attack. From watching the highlights, he seems to enjoy taking players on in one-on-one (and sometime one-on-two) situations. It’s hard to tell how fast Sweat is, but when he takes players one, he seems to rely more on his ball handling skills, which look to be pretty solid. There are only a few clips of him crossing, so that could possibly be an area of concern.
Standing at 6’2", Sweat is also able to win a lot of aerial challenges. He also seems very capable of dispossessing defenders, which might be why he is used as a left back and not a left winger.
Sweat Highlights #1
Sweat Highlights #2
Sweat Goal for Reading United
Sweat Interview While Training In Scandinavia
Will The Fire Draft Him?
Gonzalo Segares is starting to get up there in age, and, if Frank Yallop intends to play a 4-4-2 where the defensive backs get forward into the attack, he might need to find some youth in the leftback position. In 2013, Segares was not pushing forward as often in previous seasons. His offensive stats show this drop off.
As the video shows, Sweat likes to get forward and could fit the system that Yallop was using with Justin Morrow and Steven Beitashour in San Jose. Sweat also would not need to get tossed into the lineup right away as Segares should have at least another solid year of play left in him if not more.
Having both players could be a nice option for Yallop to have as he could rotate Segares and Sweat in and out in the lineup depending on who the Fire are playing. If having a player who could get forward against the upcoming opponent would be beneficial, then send in Sweat. If the upcoming opponent will be a tough matchup on that side of the field, then send in Segares, the savvy veteran.
Being a leftback in the MLS SuperDraft is a bit like being a female at a LARP convention - you’re a hot commodity simply because you are a rarity. The Fire should not draft Sweat just because he is a leftback. That would be a desperate move, and are the Fire really that desperate? Gonzalo Segares should have at least one more solid season to give to the Fire.
Just because Sweat is practically the only leftback in the draft does not mean he is good. The Fire should definitely take a close look at this kid, but if they do not feel comfortable drafting him, then they should pass on him and find another leftback option elsewhere.