Tied for second place in the Big Ten and riding an impressive four-game winning streak, the Michigan men’s soccer team is about to suffer a personnel loss.
Play-making sophomore midfielder Knox Cameron left Ann Arbor yesterday for Charleston, S.C., to join the United States Under-20 men’s national team for the rest of Michigan’s regular season, including the Big Ten Tournament.
“Without Knox will we lose some creativity,” Michigan coach Steve Burns said of his second-leading point scorer.
Cameron finished his regular season with 23 points – including 10 goals and three assists – two points behind sophomore Mychal Turpin. But the adjustments that the team will have to make won’t necessarily be unfavorable.
“Knox gives us a lot offensively, but (is weaker) in terms of defense,” Burns said, “Without him, we will be much stronger and tighter (in the midfield) defensively.”
Burns will have two choices today, in terms of filling Cameron’s spot, when the Wolverines (3-3 Big Ten, 8-6-1 overall) take on a scrappy Detriot team.
His first option is to have a defensive mentality, which means moving freshman phenom Adam Bruh from center to his preferred attacking midfielder position and starting Robert Wurth at center midfield. The added defensive pressure of Wurth will allow the outside midfielders, Turpin and freshman Ryan Sterba, to attack more aggressively.
“If we are in a defensive battle, then we will use that stronger defensive unit,” Burns said. “Taking pressure off the guys out wide.”
Dishing out a Big Ten leading 11 assists this season, Bruh has been sensational, and will be called upon more in Cameron’s absence.
“More pressure will be put on Bruh to maintain our rhythm on the field,” Burns said.
His second option is to play offensively and be aggressive. Junior forward Mike White, who’s had a breakout season (third in points with 20), would move to center mid, alongside Bruh, and either Juergen Schmieder or Karl Lopata would be inserted at the forward position.
Despite seeing limited minutes in nine matches this season – starting just three – Schmieder is fourth on the team in points (12), but has not scored a goal since playing Evansville on Sep. 27th.
“I have waited a while for this and am anxious to score,” Schmieder said of the possibility of playing considerable minutes or even starting versus Detriot.
With six goals on the season, one could assume Schmieder will add to his points total if given the chance.
At 11-5-2, Detriot is a team looking to further improve its resume for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
“We are extremely concerned about a very physical, attacking Detriot team,” Burns said. “They’re looking to defeat us to help their chance for a bid to the tourney, since it’s their last regular season game.”
Whether Burns chooses an offensive or defensive rotation, Cameron’s absence will allow other players, who deserve playing time, to step up.
“We want to keep the momentum going and push our winning streak to five games,” junior Ian Hirschfield said.