Justin Braun, and who's that? Why yes, it's Maxim Usanov! - Victor Decolongon
Thoughts on our newest acquisition from those who've seen him play the most recently.
Aaron Maund's reign of confused bewilderment in the defensive midfield position is over, off to Real Salt Lake, which will probably be much better for him, best of luck. In his place as you all know, we got Justin Braun. We know the bare facts and stats of his career, but if you're like me, you haven't really seen him play enough to get nay kind of reliable impression.
Fortunately, SB Nation has blogs all over the place, so i got the view of those from his last 3 clubs, RSL, Montreal and Chivas USA.
First up, Denz from RSL Soapbox.
The only action I saw of Braun's was our final reserve match, and to be honest I thought whatever had happened between him and the staff had been put behind them as he was working hard, productive and provided 3 assists in a wild match that saw RSL and Houston tie 5-5. When Justin got here, I think everyone was hoping to see the guy who had figured out a way to be productive at Chivas and that playing in his hometown might give him an edge to do even better. Unfortunately things didn't go that way, I heard one RSL staffer put it that Justin has the size, speed and work rate to be a player but his skill level was much less than what was expected, now could some of that be attributed to the rust of sitting on the bench (if he made the bench) in Montreal? Probably, but then came some rumblings about him not liking the intensity of RSL's practice regime, and some disagreements with staff members, neither of which did I see but you know when there are those kinds of rumblings things likely will get worse before they get better.
I still am struck by a guy who clearly was on the outside looking in by that mid- October reserve match, simply laying it all out there and doing well. He looked aware, he was often partnering with David Viana on runs, he looked intense and focused and delivered those 3 assists in a very wild match. If you get that guy, then you might just be really happy with him.
Not exactly promising, but I guess a small amount of hope. Let's keep going back, to Montreal, here's Sofiane Benzaza from Mount Royal Soccer
Justin '' BraunZilla '' Braun . I was kind of excited when Jesse Marsch traded for him (with Gerson Mayen and James Riley going the other way) . Here we have this prototypical tall, strong-looking striker that highlight reels were pumping to be a no-nonsense striker with a hard working attitude. I will give Justin Braun 3 things: great attitude, work horse and good intentions.
It sincerely hurts me to say so but the Utah native was just too poor technically to do some basic soccer skills that just could not be hidden by effort and hard work. I understand the history of his soccer career (never been drafted, community college and amateur soccer team afterwards) but the young man looked lost on the field. There was a pressure from the fact that the club was an expansion team with a big focus on learning and discovering each player.
Maybe in a more focused role and restricted scope of play, Justin Braun can be effective a striker to be a goal poacher and he still has a strong precise long range shot. Do not be surprised to see him press a lot , which is usually a good thing, but tends to be out of position for long periods of a game.
Great guy, a role model for effort and hard work but technically too poor for a professional soccer player.
Hmmmm, Braunzilla is awesome, but overall, still not promising. Well, on to Chivas USA and Alicia Ratterree of The Goat Parade. Save us Alicia, you're our only hope.
Justin Braun was a fan favorite with Chivas USA, as he was discovered by Preki while at Chivas. A big young forward with a high work-rate, Braun always gave full effort and led the team in scoring in 2010. He's a nice guy too, and seems to be grounded, the kind of guy who's great to have around the team.
The issue is that I'm afraid he never fulfilled his potential. He was called into the annual USMNT training camp once, but he got hurt and he's never been close to the mix since. In Braun's final season with Chivas, in 2011, he scored eight goals, which is a respectable total, but he only scored in four games all season. He simply doesn't produce often enough, and his touch is frequently poor. Ideally, he could play well as a support striker. Progress the play, lay off the ball to the primary striker, occasionally get a goal, that's what he could do well. But if you expect him to break out at TFC? I'd say that's not terribly likely, unfortunately.
Well there we are then. Great character and effort, not so much with the skill. Best not to get our hopes up too much I guess, but sounds like a decent backup, and really, we gave up Aaron Maund to get him, so really, what could we expect?