Josh Suggs was one of a very few returning Orange County Blues players in 2015 who more or less maintained the production he had the previous year. For a team that was almost entirely rebuilt under Oliver Wyss, Suggs' contributions were invaluable, as left back was one of the positions Wyss didn't have to upgrade.
Suggs is certainly one of the best left backs around USL. Most likely, the 26-year-old is probably one of the very best among those who don't come in on loan for development. Suggs ties the ability to defend with a now-traditional ability to push up and become a weapon on the attack.
With the Blues in 2015, Suggs' ability to dribble up the flank and even take defenders on into the opponent's box was key in creating an unbalanced formation that actually helped the Blues. Sure, it's not a new formation in the sport, but with the two center backs and the right back staying at home, Suggs' play as a two-way fullback would force teams to either try and stop the players coming through the middle and on the left, or leave Suggs or a teammate free to cross at will. The results were good, as OC's preferred strategy by the end of the season was to grab a lead and then tighten up defensively. With Suggs overlapping (or at times, underlapping), the extra body caused opponents problems and led to good chances, some of which the Blues put away.
Here were Suggs' stats from 2015:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|USL Regular Season||25||25||2,239||0||2||25||12||4||1|
|U.S. Open Cup||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
I think that Suggs is the kind of player who would maybe seem like a good candidate to move up to MLS, but his station may ultimately be as a good USL defender. His age moves him out of the realm of "prospect," although that's not to say he couldn't still do a job for years, and I think he is far more advanced than, say, Donny Toia, who only became a fullback a couple seasons ago and has been continually improving.
But it's a lot easier to look good in a league where there are a lot of young players and journeymen that game to game certainly isn't at the level of MLS. Would Suggs compare favorably to Toia in MLS? Based on the two years of practice Toia's had, probably not. But that's not to say that Suggs couldn't be a decent option for an MLS team.
Still, fullback is the easiest and hardest position to fill on a roster. Specialists are valued, but coaches seem to successfully convert players into the position more than anywhere else nowadays.
Of course, if Suggs were to return to the Blues again in 2016, I doubt anyone would be upset. He knows the system, he's spent a lot of time in the organization, and he's a consistent contributor. And if he didn't return, it would probably be a tough spot to fill for Wyss. There's been no official word yet, but hopefully Suggs will be back in OC again this coming season and continue to terrorize opposing defenses.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!