Jimenez Growing into Rightback Role for Crew
The Crew has started no fewer than five different players at rightback this season, as Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter has tried out different combinations and players with varying tactical skillsets.
Of late, Hector Jimenez has been getting the nod at the position. Jimenez, a converted wide midfielder, has done very well in the role and provides the offensive ability to get forward and create. That trait is especially key in Berhalter's fluid, possession-based system.
"His system is a little different, as you see. I find myself being almost a winger," said Jimenez. "It's something that I've been learning along the way and the coaching staff has been doing a good job of teaching me the ways."
The former LA Galaxy man played rightback on occasion during his time in Carson, California, including in his first-ever MLS Cup Playoff match on November 1, 2012 against Vancouver. The season prior, Jimenez was a teammate of none other than Berhalter in LA, so the Crew boss and former defender is aware of the 25-year-old's capabilities.
"[Berhalter] has helped me out a lot," said Jimenez. "Himself, [Josh Wolff], Pat [Onstad] - the whole coaching staff has been sitting me down, watching video, correcting me on the mistakes I've made, which always helps out. I just have to try to learn and do the best that I can."
What kinds of things has Jimenez been learning? What differences are there for him to key on?
"Just knowing that you're the backline," said Jimenez. "After you, it's just the attacker and the goalie. You have to be sharper and smarter with the ball knowing that you're in that situation. I'm enjoying playing there. I enjoy having Ethan [Finlay] in front of me."
Indeed, Jimenez provided an assist to Finlay in the Crew's 3-2 win over Philadelphia a few weekends ago, upping his total to five on the season. But he's found success defensively as well, key for this hybrid role of sorts. His tackle against the Union helped spring the break that led to Jairo Arrieta's game-winning goal, and against New York, he won two tackles and made five clearances in a difficult assignment against international superstar Thierry Henry.
"It was probably the toughest experience of my life. To be honest with you, growing up, he was someone I admired a lot," said Jimenez. "Being able to play and defend him was something special."
Jimenez helped the Crew backline hold Henry to just one chance created on the afternoon - well below his season average of 2.53 per match. It was part of another positive performance as the Black & Gold search for the right mix headed into the MLS Cup Playoffs.
"I think I did okay," said Jimenez on his effort against New York. "There were a few times where he got in behind, but it's part of the learning process that I have to get the right timing and the right spacing in that position."
• Discuss this story on the Major League Soccer message board...
Major League Soccer Stories from October 23, 2014
- No Pressure: LA Galaxy confident and relaxed ahead of Supporters' Shield-deciding clash with Seattle - LA Galaxy
- Mitch Murray, the International Man on a Mission - Colorado Rapids
- UAE Embassy and FC Dallas Foundation Dedicate New Soccer Field for Local Children - FC Dallas
- West Coast, Best Coast? Nguyen Represents a Legit MVP Candidate in the East - New England Revolution
- Oliver Larraz Nets Twice and Shines During US U-14 Training Camp - Colorado Rapids
- D.C. United Academy Update - D.C. United
- Nitro Circus Live to Visit Toyota Stadium on May 23, 2015 - FC Dallas
- LA Galaxy and AEG Invest over $15 Million Dollars into StubHub Center - LA Galaxy
- Earthquakes Announce 2014 Club Award Winners - San Jose Earthquakes
- Jimenez Growing into Rightback Role for Crew - Columbus Crew SC
- MLS Issues Disciplinary Decisions for Week 32 - MLS
- Chivas USA Fall in Road Finale, 2-0, at Real Salt Lake - Club Deportivo Chivas USA
- Real Salt Lake Tops Chivas USA 2-0 - Real Salt Lake
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.
Other Recent Columbus Crew SC Stories
- 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Match Preview: Columbus Crew SC Hosts Atlanta United at MAPFRE Stadium Tomorrow Night
- Columbus Crew SC to Host 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 Match on Tuesday, June 18
- 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Match Preview: Columbus Crew SC Faces Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC at MAPFRE Stadium Tomorrow Night
- Three Columbus Crew SC Players Named to the United States Men's National Team 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup Roster
- Columbus Crew SC's Jonathan Mensah Receives International Call-Up for Ghana National Team