Kevan George played in central defense for the first time in live game action this past Sunday. Why?
Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha had more lineup decisions to make last week against the New York Red Bulls. Eric Gehrig had already replaced an injured Chad Marshall, but Glauber picked up his fifth yellow card of the year and would have to sit out the matchup with the conference leaders.
Warzycha had several options to choose from on the back line. Rookie Chad Barson played central defense at Akron, but was seen more as an outside back in MLS. Fellow rookie Drew Beckie has practiced at all three positions on the back line and could play central defense. Left back Tyson Wahl and right back Josh Williams have both played central defense in the past. Williams spent most of his career in the middle before moving to the left last year and the right this year.
Warzycha passed on all of those options to choose Kevan George as Eric Gehrig's partner. The second year George is a defensive midfielder by trade. He played in the middle of the field against the University of Central Florida and made all of his previous appearances with the first team have been in the middle. George has trained and made reserve team appearances in defense, but that's different from lining up against Thierry Henry.
George made some solid plays with 17 clearances, 5 recoveries, a block, and an interception. He had an excellent goal line save, but he also had two miscues that lead to Red Bull goals. He was caught forward and misjudged a Cahill pass that gave Henry the chance to chip Gruenebaum. He was bought Jamison Olave's fake just before the tying goal. He might not have stopped the goal by staying on his feet, but he'd been in better position.
The George experiment could have turned out worse, but generally George was solid given his inexperience on the back line. It's also solid management to not type cast players and use them out of position if they give a certain advantage. It is a great way to extend the roster.
George is tall and athletic. Those qualities are what Warzycha might have been looking for in his central defender, they also happen to be the same qualities Williams has and he's an experienced central defender. This decision gets curiouser the more it is examined. Essentially the decision is that Warzycha made was that George was better at center back than Chad Barson or Drew Beckie would be at right back. It's not an opinion that many Crew fans likely share.