January 30, 2016
Matt Miazga should have stayed another year with Red Bulls in MLS
By Michael Lewis
Matt Miazga should have waited another year before taking the big leap across the pond.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
So, Matt Miazga will call Chelsea FC his new football home, at least for the next few years.
Whether he can break into the Starting XI, stay there and not embarrass himself is another matter.
The 20-year-old center back from Clifton, N.J. has risen through the U.S. soccer ranks quite rapidly, soaring from an Under-20 national team defender to the full team in slightly more than five months.
Few, if any U.S. men's players, have moved up the U.S. Soccer ladder so quickly.
Which brings us to the $5 million question:
Is he ready for prime time in England?
I don't think so.
In a perfect world, he should have stayed with the Red Bulls for one more season. That's not a new opinion by yours truly. I felt that last year as well.
But of course, we don't live in a perfect world.
This was the final year of Miazga's contract with the Red Bulls and Major League Soccer. He wanted to go to Europe and play with the big boys for some big bucks.
Had he played out the season with New York, Miazga could have walked away from the club.
Fearing they would get nothing in return for such a promising prospect, the Red Bulls agreed to work out a deal with Chelsea.
Quite frankly, Miazga isn't ready for the tough and tumble EPL. He has made great strides as a central defender, but he still has some rough edges he needs to smooth out. And he still has to make better decisions during crunch time, such as on when to use his body and when to foul.
MLS would have been a perfect place for the final stage of his development.
I just hope Chelsea, whose coach Guus Hiddink said that Miazga will stay with the team and not be loaned out, will give him time before throwing him into the proverbial lions den.
Of course, to develop, a young player needs to play, not just train.
I just hope I don't tune in one Saturday or Sunday morning and watch Miazga struggling or embarrassing himself trying to keep up with some of the top strikers in the world.
Matt Miazga has all the tools to develop into a fine defender, perhaps into a great one someday. I just think this move is a bit too soon.