It’s one of the most polarizing pub discussions made by football supporters across the world: Who starts up top?
Which player, or combination of players, will get the best results on the weekend?
York9 FC and its supporters have been primed for a discussion like that in Year 1 thanks to two polarizing international strikers pulling pundits and fans in opposite directions: Brutish centre-forward Simon Adjei and the quick and slippery Rodrigo Gattas.
Adjei got the most recent nod: a starting role against Forge last week, while Gattas has played 200-odd more minutes more than his Swedish counterpart, making a larger imprint on York9’s season thus far.
Gattas has six goals, Adjei has three … and three assists. You can see how this discussion could stagnate quickly.
Ahead of York9’s reverse 905 Derby fixture on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET/available on OneSoccer) here’s a closer look at the Nine Stripes’ forward conundrum…
However, Adjei’s advanced stats tell a much, much different story.
According to SportLogiq, the 25-year-old sits in the top 10% of CPLers in assists (.32), shots (3.34) and line-breaking receptions (2.91) per 90 minutes.
As your typical out-and-out centre-forward, Adjei clearly offers something special in open play. He retains possession better than Gattas statistically as a back-to-goal striker, averaging more successful passes in the opposing half and touches in the box than his Chilean teammate, too.
The issue, perhaps, lies with the shooting boots. Whether left alone at the back post against Cavalry or a chance to turn and fire five yards from Forge FC’s goal last weekend, several missed opportunities come to mind.
Gattas brings goals, but are they enough?
Sitting in fifth in league scoring with eight goals, Y9’s Chilean striker has found lots of playing time, likely due to an ability to finish.
However, one thing is evident in these goals: Gattas didn’t have much to do in the buildup.
In fact, save for that long-range effort against HFX, all goals came from crosses, several of which with a fullback cut by Diyaeddine Abzi or Morey Doner undoing the opposing defense.
Save for shots and crosses, Gattas’ statistical output is hovering around league average – including key passes and successful passes per 90.
York9 rank fifth in Opta’s big chance created metric with 30. For context, Cavalry top that category with 61. Perhaps Brennan sees Gattas as a finisher of those aforementioned chances – and if chances are few and far between, perhaps Brennan needs to look elsewhere.
Why not play both?
Ah, good point! Clearly York9 hadn’t thought of that.
Just kidding, of course they have. Head coach Jimmy Brennan clearly sees the potential value of harnessing both players. But, it’s highly likely he doesn’t want to give up a spot in the midfield and shift to an unpredictable 4-4-2,
Still in a 4-2-3-1 variant, Brennan has found ways to put them together … to limited effect.
Gattas lined up on the right side, beside Adjei, when Y9 faced Cavalry FC in late September. The results? Not great. Zero shots on target between the two … the Cavs were down to nine men for 10 minutes before Adjei was taken off in the 83rd minute.
So, just like any good pub debate, there is no right answer. But with both players looking for a place in next year’s Nine Stripes squad, who knows if we’ll get one over the final three York9 matches of 2019, starting Saturday with the 905 Derby finale at York Lions Stadium (3:30 p.m. ET/OneSoccer)