The trade of center back Danny Califf has left a tear in the back line of the Union defense, who are now lacking a known keystone to hold the unit together.
Sheanon Williams views that as a challenge.
You wont see me bombing up the wings anymore, said Williams, who took over for Califf as a center back. The first responsibility now is to really defend and have good shape and watch against counters and things like that. It definitely changes the way I play and some stuff that I do. I cant give away ball. Its defend-first position and thats the way Ill take it.
The new age of the Union defense was on display last Saturday, in a 1-1 road draw with FC Dallas. Williams moved from his more natural right back position to center back in Califfs spot and Carlos Valdes earned the captaincy and the title as anchor of the Union back line, right next to him.
It was a shaky start for the group, which allowed a first-half goal and struggled to defend set pieces. But when things settled down, the Union began to create and managed to tie the game to end a three-game losing skid.
We had a lackadaisical first half, said Williams. We got into halftime just a goal down and we regrouped in the locker room. We just said, if nothing else, just work hard, work for each other and lets try to get out of this together.
While the transition from the right to the center may seem like a difficult one, Williams is embracing the move. Hes even calling the last line of non-goalie defense one of the easier positions on the field.
I dont mean to disrespect any center back, but I think it's one of the easiest transitions, said Williams. A lot of the position is just reading the game. If you can do that, you can be pretty successful. Id definitely say a lot easier than right back or left back or any other position.
Williams partner, Valdes, has assumed the role of team leader. And with rookie Ray Gaddis now featured as a defensive staple, the veteran Colombian has some managing to do.
Hes got a lot of experience and hes a good leader, said Williams of Valdes. With a lot of young guys on the team, we need leaders and Carlos is one of them. Hes done a good job leading the team so far and hes definitely helped out a lot of the younger guys. Even with me and some of other guys on the backline, hes always talking to us and having conversations. Hes just the kind of person who wants everyone to succeed and what you want as a captain.
With Valdes working as a respected team captain and Williams making a seamless adjustment to the middle, the Union may find that life without Califf, while less personable, may be just fine.
E-mail Ryan Bright at email@example.com