“Sound the alarms! We have Verde Smoke!”
I don’t know about you but that’s basically what runs through my head anytime I see Austin FC founder/owner/CEO/big boss Anthony Precourt tweet his now-famous tweet.
If you’re new to Austin FC Twitter, Precourt signals a new arrival to the team by tweeting a video of Verde Smoke coming out of the Austin FC logo, which he did on Tuesday.
Wednesday morning, we found out that the Verde Smoke tweet was for Serbian center back Aleksander Radovanović. The 29-year-old defender will be joining the Verde & Black on loan (with an option to buy) until June 30. Radovanović is coming to Austin FC from Kortrijk, who currently sit in 14th place in the Belgian first division and are ranked as the 438th best club world football by fivethirtyeight.com (for reference Austin FC is ranked number 270 by fivethirtyeight).
Radovanović’s arrival is timely, to say the least. Austin FC’s depth is severely lacking after the departure of Ruben Gabrielson and Jhohan Romaña (albeit on loan), the adductor strain injury to Julio Cascante, Leo Väisänen getting called to the Finnish National Team (the international break ends March 28), and poor performances from Kipp Keller and Amro Tarek.
Pretty much anything that could go wrong with our respect to our central defenders, has gone wrong these last few months.
Here are some of our thoughts on our newest player:
- Algo es algo. Even if you squeaked by High School Spanish with a C, you probably know that this translates literally to “something is something.” In reality, this phrase means more like, “it’s something!” And that encapsulates how I feel about this loan move. It’s something, and we desperately need something for the reasons stated above.
- The loan move can be made permanent, but it still is a loan move. Typically loan moves are made for the following reasons:
- Teams will often loan out young players to give them more reps elsewhere, with the goal of speeding up their development.
- Teams will loan out a player when they aren’t seen as vital to the squad for that particular season (maybe they just have too many wingers, for example). Better to let someone else pick up their wages and let the player get some playing time.
- Teams may loan out a player if they feel like the player needs a change of scenery for a bit and don’t want to give up on him entirely.
- And lastly, a club may send a player out on loan when they’ve essentially given up on him, but are still figuring out how to make the move permanent. (see: Pochettino, Tomas)
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After reading some obscure Dutch articles online, it looks like Radovanović has fallen out of favor with Kortrijk after a deal with other clubs (according to German website transfermarkt, he’s been suspended since the team resumed play post-World Cup), most notably Columbus Crew, fell through. But hey, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
- It’s always tough to look at statistics and youtube videos for a player that no one in Austin knew existed until Wednesday. But we can try to paint some kind of picture here.
- Take this video, for example. It’s important to note that any youtube video of a player is going to feature the very best of them. So watch this with a huge grain of salt, but also notice that there are no clips of Radovanović playing the ball out from the back, which is something that our center backs have struggled to do not just this season, but in the past.
- Speaking of defensive errors, Sofascore has Radovanović as having not committed even one ‘Error that has led to a goal’ in his career. So at least that’s promising because our players..well, they’ve not done so well in the ‘error that has led to a goal’ department this season (or last, or the one before that).
- Market values for players can be a bit tricky, but it gives us a good gauge on a player’s value in comparison to others around the world. It does factor things in like age, so if you have a 22-year-old and a 30-year-old player with the same skill level, the younger player will have a higher value simply because he can theoretically play for longer. Transfermarkt has Radovanović valued at 550,000 euros. For comparison purposes, they have Cascante valued at 2 million euros, Väisänen is worth 2.5 million euros, Keller at 250,000 euros, and Tarek at 200,000 euros. So I guess he’s more valuable than Keller and Tarek?
- Alex Ring has been absolutely amazing for us at the back. So good that he made the MLS Team of the Week after his performance against Montreal. But we, um, need our midfielder in the midfield. As good as he’s been as a defender, it means he’s absent from the midfield. And it wasn’t any fun watching Hector Herrera do basically what he wanted against us in Houston. As much as I love Owen Wolff, he’s just physically smaller than most midfielders in the league right now (he will bulk up, after all) which means he alone cannot command the midfield for an entire season, or against teams who’ll be extra physical against him. Radovanović will need some time to adjust, but when he does, he’ll allow Ring to get back to the midfield.
It can’t get any worse, can it? Actually it can. Saturday the Oaks play Colorado Rapids, who, after scoring 1 goal in four matches, find themselves in last place (thank you soccer gods).
I don’t know if we’ll see Radovanović on the pitch this weekend, but we will soon. And hey, algo es algo, and maybe algo will end up being the move that helps get our backline some much needed stability.