24 April 2007

My problem with Facundo Erpen

Impressions linger long after they should fade away. The first memorable moment I have of Facundo Erpen was his ridiculous fake dive he executed against New England. It sort of soured me on him early, but some excellent tackles and solid defense in the 2005-2006 seasons steadied the nerves. He can defend. He has decent speed. He typically executed high risk maneuvers very well. Yet there were still troublesome signs. There was the traditional Facundo Erpen Blunder, one free with every game. There were also problems with his composure, something I was reminded of recently watching Lunch with D.C. United.

All of this wouldn't matter a whit if I felt that Facundo was evolving as a player. And yet... Yet I can't feel like that case can be made. I expect players to consistently evolve and get better. They may not gain athletic ability, or see some decline in their raw physical skills, but you expect them to be smarter, wiser, and more clever as they gain experience.

Consider the difference between 2005 Bobby Boswell and 2006 Bobby Boswell. Consider the difference between even 2004 Jamie Moreno and Christian Gomez and 2006 Jamie Moreno and Christian Gomez. They progress, they change, they don't play the same way they did year after year. My problem is Facundo Erpen is that after his original adjustment period, I don't feel like he's progressed. Maybe some of that is positioning on the Left Back-Right Back switch that occurred. But I don't feel like it. The last new thing Facundo Erpen showed me was that shot from distance he took against New York last year. Other than that, it's been same-old, same-old. He doesn't seem to have gotten wiser, or played smarter. I can accept that all players go through slumps. That's fine. But what I want to see from Facu is some sense that he's learning all the time. I don't see it. Do you?

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9 Comments:

At 24 April, 2007 17:34, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Erpen is always exciting. The problem is you really don't want exciting defenders. Question: If DCU were to release Erpen which other MLS team would pick him up?
-K

 
At 24 April, 2007 18:26, Anonymous Nick said...

D,
You are correct. Erpen has not improved as a player since his arrival. That could be on him, or that could be on the coaches. Either way, it is a problem, and I think if he doesn't step up his game, he'll be on his way out at the end of the year. Pressure and urgency can do a lot for players sometimes (think: contract year), and I think if Erpen does have more to offer, the pressure and urgency to perform will bring it out of him very soon. If not, he'll be back in Primera B in no time, replaced by another argentinean with more potential...

 
At 24 April, 2007 22:57, Blogger Ben Olsen's Beard said...

One can only assume the above comment was made by Nick Rimando.

 
At 25 April, 2007 00:47, Anonymous Nick Rimando said...

At this point, I'm not even good enough to start in Primera B alongside Facundo. Maybe a WUSA team will be intereste?

 
At 25 April, 2007 09:10, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with K. he is an exciting player to watch but as a United fan his actions scare the hell out of me. If I was just a fan of the sport and didn't cringe at seeing him get beat I'd wish for him to stay on, but I am begining to loose that twinkle in my eye. Erpen needs to shape up or bail out.

 
At 25 April, 2007 09:24, Anonymous Jeremy said...

No disagreemnt here. The best thing that Erpen had going for him was that Prideaux was on the other side of the field, so all of his blunders overshadowed what Erpen was doing on the field.
Now, Erpen is inarguably the worst starting defender and the other teams know that, so he is going to absorb even more pressure and make even more blunders. That said, it's not like the people behind him are better.

 
At 25 April, 2007 10:58, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Erpen's a bit of a problem child, but for now, he's our problem child. He needs some tough love, and he needs to feel the pressure of all this criticism (from fans as well as management). But I do hope he pulls it together.

K's right, we don't want "exciting" defenders. But I wouldn't mind a flashy one. If Erpen were to outgrow his daily gaff and turn in reliable "good day" performances, he'd be extremely effective and fun to watch.

He's high-risk/high-reward. I'd love to see him come though this season an unexpected hero.

Meanwhile, I hope he's listening...

- rke

 
At 25 April, 2007 12:14, Blogger adelino said...

I hate to put too much blame for the poor start on any one person, but FE has been less than impressive. He always strikes me as the player who makes the 3-5-2 look most counterfeit. I just think he takes really dumb chances. He's often out of position and I question his speed. That's a bad combo. He does have a cracker of a shot though.

What about J. Wilson? I know he's still out with injury, but he could help a lot when he comes back. He can't be written off for 2 mistakes in a 5 minute stretch last year. He plays within himself and understands what his body can and can't do much better than Erpen.

 
At 25 April, 2007 14:31, Blogger D said...

K: Erpen makes a fair bit of salary and takes up an SI slot. That would significantly limit his options. I think more teams would probably try a reserve from the bench then take invest in Erpen right now.

Adelino: I agree that the RSL game can't be the only thing that John Wilson is remembered for. The problem is that while he wasn't bad in his other appearances, he didn't exactly inspire confidence either.

 

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