Thursday, October 19

[MLL REPORT] TEAM USA: Roster Speculation

TEAM USA: Roster Speculation 
 
We saw an extended look at Team USA last weekend at the new US Lacrosse facility in Maryland. Their 47 man group was split into two teams, one playing Maryland the other playing Towson. Both squads came up on top. The Blue team defeated an impressive Maryland Terp team, 10-9 and the White team cruised by Towson, 22-2. After watching both games let's predict what the final 23 man roster will look like when Team USA heads to Israel this summer for the FIL World Championships.

IMO this roster is going to be constructed with defeating the reining World Champion Team Canada in mind. The Canadians were the only team that gave the US a meaningful game in 2014. In fact, Canada has won two of the last three World Games.

I certainly don't envy Coach John Danowski and his staff, as they have to cut this amazing array of talent to a final 23 man roster

Let's give it a shot ...  Here is my prediction of what the final roster will look like ...

Attack
Rob Pannell - Pretty much a lock. The best X attackman in the world. Was a member in 2014.
 
Marcus Holman - The energizer, great on the break, on the ride and in unsettled situations. To me is a complete player. Had a great season for the MLL Champion Ohio Machine. Was a member in 2014.
 
Will Manny - May be a surprise to some, but to me there isn't a better left handed attackman in the US at present time. He continues to improve. Massive fall scrimmage with seven goals vs Towson.
 
Matt Danowski - This pick shouldn't surprise anyone. After all, his dad is the coach. He has proven to be a top player over the years and will be a big contributor. Proverbial coach on the field. Me personally, I would choose Dylan Molloy. I wouldn't count on that though.

Jordan Wolf - like Pannell does his best work at X. He is the most electrifying attackman in the MLL. He is familiar with Coach Danowski from his Duke days. I would be shocked not to see him on the final roster.

Midfielders
Paul Rabil - MVP of the 2010 games, Rabil will be looking for revenge after the 2014 second place finish. I don't think he is the devastating downhill dodger he once was, but has really added to his total game, especially his passing. Was a member in 2014 & 2010.

Myles Jones - big, strong, physical, Jones will be a primary dodger for Team USA from the midfield. He will take a lot of pressure off Rabil and Schreiber.

Tom Schreiber - may be the top player in the world currently. Has had a massive 2017, earning the NLL ROY Award indoors. In the summer was MLL MVP for the Champion Ohio Machine.
 
Connor Buczek - I love the physical, competitive presence this Florida Launch midfielder brings. Can play both ends of the field, and has one of the harder shots in the MLL. Buczek also, has defensive experience from his experience playing for the Toronto Rock in the NLL.

Ned Crotty - This spot to me,  comes down to Crotty and Joe Walters. Both lefties would act as swingmen for Team USA. I think Crotty's Duke affiliation is the difference though. Can't go wrong with either guy, IMO. Crotty was a member in 2014.

SSDM
Matt Abbott - The Swiss Army Knife of the team. He is capable of playing in any situation for USA. Member in 2014.

Jake Bernhardt - Maybe a long shot, but like Abbott and Buczek I like his versatility. If Team USA wants to go more offensive, Drew Snider could be an option as well.

LSM
Joel White - To me, quite simply the best LSM in the game. Also, very much used to playing against Canadians in the NLL for the Champion Georgia Swarm. Could also play SSDM if needed.
 
CJ Costabile - This spot could very well go to Scott Ratliff. Costabile also has the ability to face off. If only one FOGO is selected, his chance of making the team increases. Another reason I think they will go with Costabile is the international game is a bit slower paced and Ratliff's transition abilities are minimized to some extent.

Defense
Tucker Durkin - Didn't play last weekend due to injury. But Durkin should be a lock with his size and strength around GLE. Also was MLL Denfensive Player of the Year in 2017. Was a member in 2014.

Liam Byrnes - The more I see Byrnes the more impressed I am. Can play close defense or LSM. Also has NLL experience with the Georgia Swarm.
 
BJ Grill - Like Byrnes is a Marquette alum. Defensive Coordinator Joe Amplo is the Marquette coach, so both will be familiar with the defensive schemes. I could see Grill matching up with Canada's Jeremy Noble in the tournament. He would be the only left handed defenseman on this roster.
 
Micheal Evans - Classic stay at home defenseman. He will have the strength to match up with the likes of Curtis Dickson, Kevin Crowley, etc. Was a member in 2014.
 
Jesse Bernhardt - Like Byrnes, can play up top or down low. Also could be a factor on the FO wings as well. Was a member in 2014.

FO
Trevor Baptiste - Looks to be the best of a strong group. He had some great battles with Canada's Jake Withers in NCAA play last year.
 
The Beast - I feel his spot could be in jeopardy if Danowski elects to take one FOGO. That said, I think he will take two, and if so, Guerenlian could also serve as a de facto coach for Baptiste as well. Was a member in 2014.

Goalie
John Galloway - Goalie may be the toughest position to pick. Galloway has the experience, the outlet pass game and is a great field general.
 
Drew Adams - I am a believer in the lefty / righty dynamic. So the lefty gets the nod over Jack Kelly. Was a member in 2014.

We may have to wait to springtime for the final roster to be announced. Until then let the debate begin! Where am I right? Where am I wrong? Thanks for the time.

 

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