New York Red Bulls defender, Matt Miazga has been linked with a move to Chelsea. To find out more about the defender, we spoke to former MLS defender and United States international, Jimmy Conrad, who currently works with KickTV.
Could you tell us about Matt Miazga and the type of defender he is?
In the centre-back position, which is usually best occupied by a very experienced player, 20-year-old Miazga is wise beyond his years. He reads the game pretty well, has good positional sense, and never seems overwhelmed by any situation, whether he has the ball at his feet or if he’s battling the likes of David Villa or Didier Drogba.
He’s a wiry 6’4” tall so he has some room to fill out even more, which would make him an, even more, intimidating presence in the backline for any team he plays with.
How is he viewed in the US? Is there a belief he can be a real star of the future for the US national team?
He’s viewed as the potential anchor for our national team for years to come but, please keep in mind, that we are so thirsty for a proper soccer superstar in this country that we have a tendency to overhype any player who shows an inkling of promise, let’s call it the “Freddy Adu effect.”
That said, when a club like Chelsea and its army of scouts deems one of our players worthy of the opportunity to potentially put on a Blues jersey, then I think the hype is justified.
He has attracted interest from several Premier League sides, can he make the step up?
That’s up to him and how he adapts to the speed of the game, the expectations, and, let’s be honest, the pressure of being an American. Because as an American, you have a target on your back when you play somewhere else because I believe that the preconceived notion about us is that, minus our talented goalkeepers, we can’t play. We have big hearts and a lot of pride but we can’t play so he’s saddled with that responsibility, too, whether he likes it or not, which means we’re all counting on you to show everyone that Americans can play, Matt! Don’t let us down!
Miazga is only 20 years old, do you see Chelsea planning to develop him as one for the future or can he have an immediate impact?
This might sound backwards but we could argue that him staying with Chelsea could ease his transition, if only because if he got minutes with the first team, then he would be surrounded by top, top players and that would make the game easier for him.
Because, if you’re still following me, he could focus on two or three things – holding the line, communicating, and passing the ball to Fabregas – instead of playing somewhere else where he might not know the language, they might play a different style (let’s say more Route one), etc., which would undoubtedly teach him some stuff but maybe not the stuff that would help him mature in a more meaningful way.
I think we could go back and forth on this question for quite some time.
How have Red Bulls fans reacted to the news?
Naturally they’re disappointed to lose one of their up-and-coming players but it’s part of the business and, frankly, it’s good business. Imagine all of the kids now that want to play in the Red Bulls Academy like Matt knowing that if they put the work in, Chelsea could come calling. It’s a big deal and it will only help the club get better and better.
Do you think the move for Miazga will be a good one?
Absolutely! He’s going to get out of his comfort zone and be tested and if he passes those tests, then everyone wins – Matt, Chelsea, the Red Bulls, MLS, and our national team.