By Jordan Shim–
In the penultimate edition of the soccer breakdown, TLC will cover the midfield of the men’s team.
The Cards suffer losses to three key players in Jack Gayton, Romilio Hernandez and Daniel Johnson. It will be a new-look midfield, but taking their spots is familiar faces.
Returning starters are junior Tate Schmitt and senior Geoffrey Dee.
Schmitt, Dee, sophomore Liam Bennett, junior Adrien Cabon and sophomore Cherif Dieye
Strength: Goal Scoring
The lone scorer as a freshman, Schmitt transitioned to right midfield and settled in the flanks comfortably as a sophomore. Though the goals did not come as frequently, his ability to score in big games became apparent. Four of his five goals came against ranked opponents, and his last two, in the NCAA tournament, were game-winners.
Dieye will try and ease the loss of Johnson, whose experience and craftiness on the ball was a big asset. An upgrade Dieye provides the team is the goal scoring ability — scoring five goals in limited time last season. He has the technique to create his own shot and the ability to draw fouls.
Schmitt and Dieye will ease the workload for Thiaw. The threat of the both wingers cutting inside to shoot will draw in defenders and will allow Thiaw to find room in behind.
Dee bagged two goals, and sophomore Grant Hollkamp scored two before a leg injury abruptly ended his season. Coach Ken Lolla has scoring options all across midfield.
Weakness: Defensive Midfield
It’s hard to say that the holding midfield is a liability, but Bennett and Cabon will need time to mesh together to replicate to form of Hernandez and Gayton.
Bennett and Cabon have a different skillset and won’t be expected to do the same as the former. Both are high energy players, so work ethic will not be questioned. However, their inexperience playing at that position and in tandem could lead to miscues with the back four.
Player to watch: Cherif Dieye
Dieye gave Cards fans a small taste of what he was capable of doing in limited time. Now that he will play for most of the games, the Senegalese could be in for a solid season. He is fluid on the ball and the pressure of the big games do not affect his performances. He instead wants the ball and looks to shoot when the chance presents itself.
With Tim Kubel and Danny Reynolds providing most of the service going forward, it will allow Dieye to find space on the outside and wreak havoc.
Photo by Nancy Hanner / The Louisville Cardinal