Yearly there’s at the very least one man left off the overall 22 Under 22 list whose absence raises some eyebrows. This yr, that distinction goes to Philadelphia Union Homegrown No. 10 Anthony Fontana, who has come out off nowhere to attain six targets in 440 minutes for the most effective groups within the league, most of them throughout the previous month. With that form of hit fee… the place is he?
Full disclosure: Fontana was 23rd on my private 22 Beneath 22 record. The notion — mine and others’ — of the 21-year-old is that he solely does one factor (rating targets) and is presently doing so at an unsustainable fee. It’s kind of of idiot’s gold: He’s good, however not this good. The child scored simply as soon as in 49 USL appearances, and whereas a part of that comes all the way down to position (he wasn’t enjoying solely as a 10 for the Bethlehem Metal/Union 2), not all of it comes all the way down to his position. If he was the transcendent goalscorer he seems to be in MLS, you’d have anticipated to see extra throughout his USL days.
Now, whereas his present goalscoring is unsustainable (he has 6g on 2.2 xG as per Opta), the very fact is that discovering 2.2 xG price of possibilities over the course of ~5 video games is definitely elite for a central midfielder. As Jim Curtin mentioned after this previous weekend’s win over New England, Fontana’s capacity to make these deep, well-timed runs makes him a weapon. So long as the staff is ready to create the kind of conditions the place these chances are high generated, these runs will likely be precious, therefore Fontana will likely be precious even when he does not add a single different factor to his recreation:
That could be a beautiful end, however the run to get into that spot within the first place is eye-popping. So long as you’ve got obtained teammates who can play the ultimate ball, anyway.
To that finish, the world of soccer is replete with gamers who look nice when requested to choose their spots whereas surrounded by glorious gamers, however who’ve struggled when ask to be the point of interest of lesser groups. We’re closing in on a fairly good pattern dimension that means Fontana is, for now, precisely that kind of participant.
However to ensure that him to change into an precise star, he is obtained to change into greater than only a sensible goal-poacher. In the intervening time he does not beat gamers off the dribble, is a below-average likelihood creator (solely 4 key passes in 440 minutes as an attacking midfielder is, uh, not nice!), and is an “sufficient” at greatest defensive presence. It’s apparent that extra work must be carried out.
The excellent news for Fontana? Objectives are essentially the most precious foreign money within the recreation, and so long as he is scoring them, he’ll get the enjoying time essential to work on the opposite stuff. At which level, perhaps stardom actually does await, even when it comes after his 22 Beneath 22 eligibility has expired.