Sam Vines only played one half of the United States’ 6-0 thrashing of El Salvador on Wednesday, but he showed why he’s a continual favorite of manager Gregg Berhalter.
Vines was as consistent as can be in his performance, providing a steady hand at outside back. The 21-year-old impressed in 1v1 situations and was as reliable as they come in possession, making multiple quick decisions along the touchline, being the reliable support the attack needed in its first-half barrage, burying five of its six goals in Vines’ time on the field.
This was the Colorado Rapids starlet’s second appearance for the Stars and Stripes and with a busy 2021 in the near future it will be far from his last. The United States will be trying to make an appearance in the Olympics, a tournament where a player of Vines’ quality has the potential to shine and get significant minutes for the Americans.
His outlook for the future is bright, Berhalter has been a known fan of the youngster, who was ranked 13th in the MLS’ annual 22 under 22.
Vines is the prototypical reliable fullback that many think has gone out of style in a modern game that promotes wing backs and attacking prowess from the defensive position. However, Vines’ reliability and intelligence may be something of value in the future as he tries to take a stranglehold of a spot on the United States depth chart.
The starting outside backs at this point seem fairly set in stone with Reggie Cannon and Sergino Dest both performing wonderfully at their European clubs and for the national team, with Vines likely vying for a spot with Fulham’s Antonee Robinson behind them.
Robinson, who is two-years older than Vines is the antithesis of him, playing a more attacking brand of soccer, which involves him pushing the ball well up the field and generating an attack. Robinson has a tendency to be a risk-taker in possession, as seen by his shaky performance against Wales back in November.
Vines’ reliability may make him the more comfortable and needed backup as he matures into his prime. At his young age Vines has yet to hit his peak, but his ability at only 21-years-old, along with his high potential for the future is a great reassurance to a United States team that has seen outside back as a weakness in the past.
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