The Chris Mueller Conundrum
How should Oscar Pareja deploy the fan-favorite?
Coming in at 5'9" 169 pounds, the 21-year-old University of Wisconsin product was selected at 6th overall by Orlando City in the 2018 MLS Superdraft. Ever since then, Chris Mueller has played in 69 games for Orlando City, scoring 10 goals and providing 8 assists. His nonstop running and never say die attitude has endeared him to the fans since day one.
Outside of his status as the fan-favorite, Chris Mueller has provided some debatable topics for fans to mull over with his play. The main debate is about his role when it comes to the matchday squad. On one hand, many fans believe that he should be a consistent fixture in the starting Xl. On the other, many fans think we should use him more as a super-sub, a role we've seen him exceed in during his time in MLS.
Chris Mueller should start because...
1. His hard work tracking back defensively makes him very useful from the opening whistle. Although every game is different, 9 times out of 10 a coach will tell his players that he wants them to get through the opening 10 to 15 minutes without conceding. A player who tracks back and is willing to do the dirty work will be important in those early phases of the match.
2. Mueller's skill set means that he brings a very unique feature to the attack. When people think of a successful attacking team, they usually just think of the goalscorers (Carlos Vela, Josef Martinez, Bradley Wright-Phillips, etc.). What many people fail to realize is the importance of the players giving them the service. There's a reason DC United spent $1.1 million TAM for Julian Gressel. It's because he excels at putting the ball where it needs to be for the goalscorer to score. Chris Mueller is one of those players. His best attribute is linking the midfield to the attack and we don't have many players who do that in the squad.
Chris Mueller shouldn't start because...
1. When called upon to start, Chris seems to put out average performances more times than not. When he's brought on as a substitute though, he seems to light a fire in the team. For example, Chris started the home opener against Real Salt Lake and didn't play all that well. The next week, however, he came on as a sub in the 79th minute and, as he usually does, made an instant impact by scoring a goal in the 82nd minute. The variation in Mueller's performances when called upon to start is not worth losing his consistent performances when called upon as a substitute.
2. Although Mueller is strong in linking the midfield to the attack, Orlando's attack just isn't that strong. The team only scored 44 goals last season, the third-worst in the entire MLS. A player on the roster who seems to be pretty good at scoring goals is Benji Michel. With the squad we have, we can only select one of Michel or Mueller to start and Michel is almost the complete opposite of Mueller. All end product and no build-up play. With a team that is lacking in the goal department, it might be benjificial (sorry I had to) to start Michel and save Mueller for an impact sub when things just aren't going our way.
What side are you on? Should Mueller be a starter or a super-sub?
'Til next time, this has been Gavin Rushnell and #VamosOrlando