Siem de Jong checks in at 6-foot-1 and 181 pounds, giving him the size and strength to compete in MLS. Though he can play as a lone or second striker or as a box to box midfielder his primary position is attacking midfielder (No. 10).
The Film Room
Watching recent film on de Jong, it is clear that he is extremely clean in possession. His touches and passes generally are spot-on, and he excels at playing one-touch soccer. He is calm in front of the net, and if he can get the ball with even the tiniest window to shoot through, he can convert. If such a window doesn’t exist, however, he lacks the acceleration or fluidity to create it for himself.
Though de Jong is an excellent passer, especially in rhythm and playing one-touch, he doesn’t appear to want the ball in traffic. When receiving the ball with bodies around him he is much more likely to play a negative pass, or even smack the ball all the way back to the keeper, than to try to work out of pressure. This is especially noticeable because his movement off the ball is not great. Often de Jong seems to be content to hang out in space and ask his team to work an angle to get him the ball rather than create his own angles.
If he can receive the ball on the half-turn and pick his head up to pass de Jong possesses the ability to play a ball into space with the perfect weight to set his team on the attack. However, he is not the great dribbler that most true No. 10s are. His best attribute is probably his ability to get into the box and finish opportunities that are created from the wings.
De Jong feels like an excellent player for a team that has a lot of the ball. His ability to act as a fulcrum, playing one-touch with his back to goal aiding his team in switching the point of attack or opening up dribbling lanes, is elite.
However, on a team that lacks the majority of possession, is forced to defend for long periods of time or has to play on the counter, I think de Jong will struggle to make an impact. Because of this, I can’t help but wonder if de Jong is a great signing for the team that FC Cincinnati wants to be rather than the team that they currently are.
Brad Gough is the former head coach of the Cincinnati Lady Saints and Cincinnati Christian University, and a former Director of Coaching for Northern Kentucky Soccer Academy.