Scouting Report: Is John Brooks the Future of United States Soccer Team?

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Scouting Report: Is John Brooks the Future of United States Soccer Team?
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Can Hertha Berlin's United States international John Brooks, a 21-year-old, 6'4", 170-pound centre-back, transition into an elite defender for the USMNT? 

To address that question, this article will grade Brooks' performance against Ghana and provide a scouting report on his season with Hertha. 

Source: USSoccer.com.

 

Brooks vs. Ghana Grade: A

Source: FIFA.com.

It took United States centre-back Matt Besler straining his hamstring to give Brooks a chance, which he capitalised on while performing on the biggest stage. 

Brooks' 86th-minute header against Ghana turned out to be the winning goal.

Source: FIFA.com.
Source: FIFA.com.

Defensively, Brooks was solid. 

He made two tackles, intercepted two passes, blocked two shots and completed seven clearances. 

Though, he was not in position to stop Ghanaian left attacking midfielder Andre Ayew from scoring.

Source: FIFA.com.

That play was why Brooks received an A instead of an A+. 

 

Brooks Hertha Positives

Source: Kicker.de.

Along with utility player Nico Schulz, 21, and central midfielder Tolga Cigerci, 22, Brooks was one of the three young guns who received extended starting runs in the Bundesliga under Hertha manager Jos Luhukay.

It is an indicator that Luhukay believes Brooks can make the step up, having been the fifth-best ranked defender in the 2. Bundesliga during the 2012-13 season, per Kicker

Source: Kicker.de.

Brooks' physical tangibles combined with a solid technical base mean he has a high upside. 

That was why Bayern Munich tried to recruit him, only for him to say no. 

"It was not a tough decision," Brooks said, per Brian Sciaretta at the New York Times. "I think I will have more chance to play with Hertha than with Bayern Munich."

Brooks is a fox in the box, as illustrated with opportunistic goals against Eintracht Frankfurt and Eintracht Braunschweig.

Source: Bundesliga.com.
Source: Bundesliga.com.

Those goals foreshadowed his winner against Ghana.

 

Brooks Hertha Negatives

Passive defending is Brooks' biggest barrier. 

"I don't think he challenged one duel while he was in," Luhukay said, per German newspaper BZ (h/t Greg Seltzer at MLSsoccer.com). "John started yet another match without enough motivation—he's not active enough."

Brooks is a reactive defender, who jockeys when opposing players run at him.

Why? Brooks wants the opposing player to commit an unforced error. 

However, Luhukay wants Brooks to be a proactive defender; therefore, he needs to substantially increase his 1.2 tackles and 1.7 interceptions per game average. 

Brooks failing to tackle then-Werder Bremen (now Wolfsburg) central attacking midfielder Aaron Hunt is the type of submissive defending Luhukay hates. 

Source: Bundesliga.com.

An inability to cope with the responsibilities of being a top-flight professional meant Brooks' playing time diminished. 

After getting inked, Brooks was dropped. 

"The tattoo could lead to an inflammation, and, naturally, that is not good," Luhukay said, per Berliner Morgenpost (h/t Stephan Uersfeld at ESPN FC). "I don't have any understanding for that."

Brooks only played 47.1 percent of the Bundesliga season, so his fitness is a red flag. 

  • January 8, 2014: "[Brooks] strained ligaments in his left knee in training and is expected to be out for up to two weeks," per Bundesliga.com.
  • September 23, 2013: "An MRI revealed Brooks had a hyper-extended elbow, a muscle tear in his forearm, and a small radius fracture," per ESPN FC.

 

Bottom Line

Brooks was the man of the moment against Ghana. 

He had a tough season at Hertha, but if he can stay fit and improve his ball-winning ability, he will develop into a top footballer for the United States. 

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored.com

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