10 January 2019

Getting to Know You: Matt Polster Edition

I figured since I've been asked a few times about the guy via DMs I'd go ahead and do a little roundup on Matt Polster, the 25-year-old American holding midfielder and right back Steven Gerrard has kidnapped and taken to Tenerife. Plus, I need to write something to stay fresh.

Skipping the Wikipedia basics and YouTube clips you've already looked up, Polster was held in I would say high regard by the Chicago Fire fanbase and the media that covers them. I used to be one of those people, but I can't stand driving 85 miles to their ground so I've only seen the guy in person a couple times. But it was clear that during the Fire's failed 2018 campaign, Polster's absence was felt. The team shipped 61 goals in 34 matches, finishing second bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference.

Which brings us to why he was missing in the first place: an MCL tear in his right knee in the opening stages of the season After an initial setback in May, the team reported no issues with his surgery or rehab, he made it back for the end of the MLS season, and the fact he's participating in Tenerife would indicate there should be no concerns over his health. Speaking as someone who has fucked up his knee a few times, my MCL tear was the one that was the easiest to get over and has never given me a problem in the decade since. If it was an ACL or a PCL, I'd have some more concerns. He also suffered a strain in his left knee in the early part of 2017, but that didn't keep him off the park long.

How he fits into the side, eh... initially I'm sure we'd see him featuring at right back given our lack of quality options there. Longterm, I've always thought of him as a better option in the holding mid spot. He can pick a pass with both feet effectively and has the typical American run a ton and be strong as hell in a tackle streak to him. My old CRO comrade Alan Clark asked me how'd I rate him to Mo Edu when he came into the side; Polster isn't of that quality but he could be a useful Swiss Army Knife-type in the backline, as he can also turn out at centre half (albeit a bit undersized in that role).

What they had to say

The general consensus among the Fire blog base was he should be retained. RJ from Hot Time in Old Town, the SB Nation Chicago Fire blog, wrapped up the overall mood: "If Polster wasn’t injured this season, the Fire probably wouldn’t be in the position they are now. But hindsight is 20/20, as the saying goes. Polster has always fought for the badge and his versatility out on the pitch is something that the Fire needs. Here’s hoping we see him again next year."

Advanced tactical analysis

Yeah right, when did you ever come to the CRO for that VL shit?

Final verdict

If he signs and moves into the first team on a regular basis, we've got a win across a few angles with Polster. First, a good player. Second, a marketable asset in the US. Third, a saleable asset down the road. Establishing himself in Gerrard's side would boost his stock for the USMNT. Polster was called up to the national side twice prior to his injury; playing regularly for Rangers would put him back in the discussion immediately as US Soccer works to rebound from its atrocious last World Cup cycle. If he can cement a place in the US side, then we've gotten an international footballer on the cheap. Not bad business.