Brennan O'Neill Must Start for Team USA

Brennan O'Neill Must Start for Team USA

Duke fandom certainly primed our hopes and dreams for the Blue Devil junior heading into the training camp weekend in Maryland.

Then, he absolutely blew by Matt Dunn, Team USA's best defender, on his first dodge Friday night. Something he did against Canada's U21 team this summer. Something he's done against college defenders since arriving to Durham.

By Saturday morning, partnered up Matt Rambo and Michael Sowers, we firmly believed he was making the team.

You can argue that O'Neill, a college junior, won't be covered by college aged defenders in San Diego.

You'd be right. We already took a look at potential match ups.

But, O'Neill wasn't covered by a back up Terp defender in that fall ball clip.

That's fifth year senior, 2022 1st team All American, 6'1" 200lbs Brett Makar looking helpless.

By Saturday afternoon, we had him penciled in as a starter with Sowers and either Rambo or McArdle.

A week later after rediscovering the following clip from this spring, it will be a disaster and failure, if he's not one of the starters.

What attackman in the world is making this play? Excuse the House of Dragons edit.

Both of those plays are made in unique areas of the field for an attackman.

We're not suggesting Sowers, Rambo, or McArdle, can't make that catch and pass to Wisnauskas.

We are however suggesting no attackman on the planet is scoring the goal in the way that he did against UNC.

At 6'2" 225lbs, O'Neill has the size and strength to dodge and score on the run from traditional midfield positions. That isn't to say O'Neill should be deploy as a midfielder but he provides the dodging angle and scoring location flexibility that no one else can.

The other three names we like as starters can't do that. That's okay. O'Neill can. Sowers, who did initiate a lot of Waterdogs offense from that top corner out of a two man game, could run by a short stick but doesn't have that shooting range. Have you ever seen Rambo or McArdle shoot the ball from that part of the field off of a dodge?

Let's once again recall the Herb Brooks phrase, I'm not looking for the best players, I'm looking for the right ones. In this case, O'Neill is the best and the right player. He doesn't score easy or simple goals. That doesn't mean he can't. His absolutely loaded tool bag allows him to score complex goals in effortless ways.

Watch it again.

Look how dejected the goalie is after allowing the tally.

Team USA will be faced with defending a Canada offense that will have more chemistry than whatever defensive line up the Americans choose. Matt Dunn and Michael Ehrhardt have a long term Maryland and Whipsnakes partnership. Presumably, they get the Josh Byrne and Dhane Smith match ups.

But, what happens if the Canadians load up on Chaos members? A big chunk also happen to play together with the Bandits.

The Canadians could send out six Chaos athletes.

Josh Byrne, Dhane Smith, Chris Cloutier, Chase Fraser, Ryan Smith, and Challen Rogers.

If we're just comparing chemistry, Sowers and McArdle play together with the Waterdogs. Sowers and O'Neill played one season together at Duke. But, you're really comparing human years to dog years when it comes to American chemistry to Canada chemistry.

The Americans will have to rely on their advantage at the face off and score efficiently in a variety of ways. The lack of a shot clock in international play suggests a low scoring title game.

The 2018 title game was a 9-8 finish and if you remember that game ended in controversy over a clock issue.

The 2014 title game resulted in an 8-5 win for the Maple Leafs. Canada held a 8-2 with under twelve minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

The Worlds come down to three or four games for the Americans. Canada and Iroquois in pool play. Iroquois in the semi finals if there is a slip up against Canada.

There's no time to develop additional chemistry. You have to select the best players that give you offensive flexibility and efficiency. Brennan O'Neill provides both in equal measure in a way no other American can.

He's going to San Diego. He's starting.

Or, Canada wins their third title in five tries.

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