Brandon Vincent, LB/CB
5-ft-11, 175 lb, 22 years old, born in Valencia, CA
Drafted 4th overall by the Fire in the 2016 SuperDraft (pick acquired from NYCFC in exchange for 1st overall draft pick, Jack Harrison)
MLSPU salary: $70,000
Appearances: 26 Games started: 24 Minutes: 2191 Assists: 3
Same as 2016 (duh, he’s a rookie).
(From Pre-Draft writings) "Vincent's played a good bit of center back ... that's left his attacking instincts less than sharp from time to time. He'll drop back when he should push, or he'll pinch in when he should stay wide, and it's weird."
... considered the most complete defensive prospect in the 2016 draft ... physically a bit of a tweener like Kappelhof ... not the quickest flank player in the world, but improving positioning makes him effective ... offensively a bit more limited than you’d like - not fantastic with the ball at his feet, but can play quick combinations well ...
Most of this guy's season was covered in speculated conspiracies and fan anger for reasons beyond how he played. Now, I could talk about the infamous "Draft Day Trades" or the All Star call-up (so gracefully placed in the subtitle; Long Live Smashmouth); but I'm going try to actually talk about how he did. If you want a discussion/argument piece on it, tell me and wait a bit, I'll get it to you in preparation for the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.
So when you take away the comparisons to other players (you already got your name), he really had a decent rookie season. Not good, but decent. Even though he was claimed to be a "sure thing", he's still a rookie. Maybe he didn't do well because of all the lack of confidence around him, from the fans to the coaches (For a while it was Michael "*******" Harrington starting at left back, not Vincent).
In actual analysis, Vincent’s major problems stemmed from his refusal (or inability) to attack. When you have someone like Ramos on the right side who is a strong attacking wingback, you like to be able to have that mirrored on the left. We had that in Joevin Jones, but that's a story for another time. His strength was supposedly in his athleticism, but that was instantly unfounded in his first game as Khiry Shelton ran all over him. He recovered himself later on in the season, but he consistently gets burned by those speedy right wingers. Maybe it was mental, maybe he was tired, maybe he just can't do it. All we saw was that he was only good when he wasn’t noticeable, which can hopefully give him more of a chance to grow.
On that note of "growing", that is exactly what I expect him to do: grow. Even though he was hailed as a "sure thing", Vincent was never going to be a "superstar". He's clearly not playing a superstar position, so why expect more than what's needed? What I expect is that he will hopefully work on those key mistakes he made last year and hopefully come back better than ever. He won’t make waves and I doubt he ever will, but I think that he can improve to be serviceable. I don’t think he will be a part of the mythical "core", but he should stick around and be one of those periphery players that helps along. Guys like Evan Whitfield, Ivan Guerrero, Ritchie Kotschau, or even Nate Jaqua. He’s someone who won’t get a spotlight, but shouldn’t need it to do his job right.
One of the biggest things that he’ll need though is support. As I said, plenty of his problems could’ve been mental. From the moment he was drafted, he would be known as the guy we traded away Jack Harrison for. And even though I won’t get into the decision of the trade (yet), you can see how the response to that decision could have effected him. And that All-Star experience must have been torture with all those people asking why he was even there. Sure, he’s a professional and he should be able to handle it, but this guy is a rookie who had judgement passed on him practically before he stepped out onto the pitch.
If you remember well enough, before the Magee trade, Dilly Duka wasn’t playing well because he felt too much pressure for being the guy they traded Oduro away for. Once Magee showed up, he wasn’t the only guy earned from that trade (remember, we got the rights to Robbie Rodgers in the Oduro trade, which we traded to LA for Magee) and suddenly Duka was playing up to his potential. I think if we finally let go of the Harrison trade and let him play his game, we will finally see that he’s actually a solid player we can stick with for the coming years.