By: Colin Reese
Arturo Vidal is world football’s central midfielder par excellence, and he is in a different solar system than Benji Joya.
Benji Joya has never been called The American Arturo Vidal, but it has a nice ring to it.
The non-existent nickname is obviously totally unwarranted at this point in time for the 20 year old central midfielder, but it’s a nickname that perhaps Joya can hopefully give some credibility to one day.
To get there, Joya would have to really crank up the intensity of his defending to Vidal’s ferocious levels because Arturo Vidal is a total monster who defends better than any midfielder in the world, and he attacks with the technical ability and creativity of a world-class attacking midfielder.
Carlo Garganese of Goal.com has accurately called Arturo Vidal, “the world’s best midfield ball winner.”
(Carlo Garganese is a must-follow on Twitter, and all of his articles are must-reads.)
Vidal is quite simply a truly elite footballer who any central midfielder would love to be compared to.
For Joya, the nickname isn’t really accurate, but it’s more of a goal for a level and style of play to strive for.
Joya’s game includes a Number 10 aspect to it, which is slightly different than the way that Vidal attacks and combines with his teammates. Vidal is a force of nature that attacks with no mercy.
The Chicago Fire midfielder has shown that he is an attacking midfielder who is such a complete midfielder, especially by American standards, that he might reach his greatest potential and efficacy by becoming a central midfielder who defends and tracks back as well as he passes and attacks.
Other American attacking midfielders simply cannot defend like Joya, and other American defensive midfielders like Michael Bradley don’t really have the same ceiling as far as attacking prowess and playmaking go, which isn’t to say that Bradley isn’t a very technical player who is a excellent passer of the ball and very much a two-way threat.
At this point, Joya is somewhat all potential without a highlight reel of video evidence showcasing his exploits, but his skill and actual ability right now are undeniable.
The central midfielder is the ultimate sleeper in American soccer, and although his name is now very well-known, Joya is much better than many observers give him credit for. This writer has no doubt that Joya can excel if played with Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Benny Feilhaber, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore right now.
Joya isn’t exactly internationally-experienced, but he definitely has demonstrated that he is ready to play for the national team, given his skill-set and mentality that displays lots of confidence, toughness, competitive fire, and humility.
The Chicago Fire’s new central midfielder would have no problem playing for the United States Men’s National Team right now, and the United States could honestly use him.
The nickname the American Arturo Vidal might not be something that Joya would want to known by as he likely wants to be known as his own man, but being compared to the great Chilean midfielder would be an enormous compliment.
Actually calling Joya, The American Arturo Vidal is way too much hype, but once again, it does have a nice ring to it.
With the 2014 World Cup fast approaching, Jürgen Klinsmann might have to incorporate some new talents into the national team if he really wants the United States to take the game to its opponents and show well.
New faces might be needed to take the United States to a new level, especially in the center of the midfield where Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones have not meshed particularly well.
Young players and inexperienced players are often dismissed as risky, but they also offer the possibility of improvement. Risk is inescapable in the World Cup, and a healthy dose of the type of risk-taking that Bruce Arena so admired in Clint Dempsey might just benefit the United States this summer.