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Igor Julião’s Chances at Right Back

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Igor Julião is in his second loan stint with Sporting KC, but where does the Brazilian youngster fit in this go around.

Philadelphia Union v Sporting Kansas City Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Igor Julião sealed a second loan deal to Sporting KC this winter after bouncing around to several teams in Brazil since his last stint with Sporting Kansas City in 2014. In Igor’s first stint with SKC he dazzled fans with stopovers and creative bits of skill to get past defenders, but left quite a bit to be desired in his own defensive ability. The big question in Igor’s return was if had he acquired any defensive discipline in the two years since last being in Sporting Blue? Secondly, where does he fit in to this team? Is Igor a starter, or a usual option coming off the bench, or just simply a depth piece in case something was to go terribly wrong?

Play Thus Far

Igor Juliao by Gary Rohman

So far, Igor appears to be the same old Igor. In the most recent 6-2 preseason thrashing against New England Revolution Igor played just 30 minutes. In those 30 minute the Revs scored four goals.

The second goal isn’t Igor’s fault in my opinion. Benji Joya receives the ball wide on the right side, meaning Igor needs to move to give him space, and Benji plays a bad pass into the midfield and fails to track back.

The third and fourth on the other hand are Igor’s fault. Igor fails to track Juan Agudelo or even communicate to Amer Didic that he is sneaking in behind which allows Agudelo an easy tap in inside the six yard box.

The fourth as well is Igor’s fault. If you watch Igor’s eyes the entire nine second sequence in the box he does not even take a quarter of a second to see where Diego Fagundez is.

He did look bright as ever going forward, but at what cost does his attacking ability on the field come for his defensive discipline.

Position Change?

From what we’ve seen I don’t know that Igor is a right back, at least not in a hard-nosed hustler for Peter Vermes’ system. Right now Igor has to be the third or fourth right back option behind Graham Zusi and Saad Abdul-Salaam, but maybe ahead of Kevin Ellis (also Colton Storm is on this list but unsure of what his role is since he hasn’t yet featured in preseason but he did mostly play on the right in college).

I would be interested to see Igor maybe make a move up the field to that right winger spot for SKC. Without question he has the technical ability and skill that Sporting needs on the wing, but even then he might be third or fourth option (Gerso Fernandes is clearly the first choice option, Cameron Porter has had some bright moments including a great goal, and Zusi will still surely play a role on the wing at some point this season).

My fear is that moving Igor up the field could mean Igor has even less defensive discipline than he already has shown. With an undisciplined winger the opposing team’s left backs are able to push forward and cause problems for whoever is playing at right back for SKC.

Conclusion

I think Igor’s best bet would be to try and make a move to winger, considering it seems highly doubtful that he beats out Graham Zusi or Saad Abdul-Salaam at right back. It’s very apparent that the attacking portion of his game is more developed than the defensive side, so why not move him up the field so that he is not as much of defensive liability. I believe Igor would have a better chance of beating out Cameron Porter for minutes as a sub on the wing than either Zusi or Abdul-Salaam. My only reservation with this position move is if we see even less defensive commitment tracking back, leading to freedom from apposing outside backs to venture forward.

Does Igor even get a chance on the wing, or is he simply forced into being a depth piece at right back, spending another year on loan at a club where he sees minimal time? Only time will tell with this one.