August 5, 2017

Men’s soccer breakdown: Forwards

By Jordan Shim-

Over the past six weeks, TLC has given you insight on both men and women’s team and what you can expect for the upcoming season. The final edition of the soccer breakdown covers the forwards on the men’s side.

Because coach Ken Lolla fields one striker in his formation, we assess the performance of the senior Mohamed Thiaw.

Thiaw stepped into the first team after scoring 25 goals and amassing 61 points in two years at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. What looked to be a risk to take a chance on Thiaw paid major dividends, as the Lexington, Kentucky native scored 12 goals, the highest tally for a Cardinal since Simon Bird in 2003. His seven match-winning goals were second most in the country.

Thiaw’s success garnered substantial interest from the MLS, but his priority in education brought him back for his final season.

With Tim Kubel and Tate Schmitt returning, and the addition of impact transfer Adam Wilson, service to Thiaw will be plentiful for him to replicate last season’s tally and lead Louisville to another NCAA tournament berth.

Strength: All around play

There aren’t many things Thiaw does wrong. He is a complete striker, being comfortable with the ball at his feet, in the air and even without the ball using his positioning to still be a threat.

Being the lone striker is formation has enormous responsibility. He has to win aerial duels to win possession. During counterattacks, Thiaw will often be the only player attacking. Therefore, he has to decide to either take on the defense himself or hold the ball up to allow his teammates to catch up.

He makes good decisions, and was the difference maker making big plays one after another.

Weakness: Pressure

Pressure would be the only thing that could affect him this season.

Thiaw had arguably the best season he could have asked for in 2016, and was a major factor in the team winning seven more games than last year. The question now becomes can he do it again?

He couldn’t have proved that he is a legitimate goalscorer any more than by scoring against ACC competition. But once teams get adequate film to study him, there is a possibility for him to struggle.

You can follow Jordan Shim on Twitter @tlcjordanshim.

Photo by Nancy Hanner / The Louisville Cardinal

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