Name: Elton Chifamba
Club: Columbus Crew SC
Age/Age Group: 2003
Position: Center midfielder
We’re keeping in the midwest for the second iteration of the Don’t Tread Player Spotlight. This time we’re heading southeast from the Twin Cities to Test Market USA to spotlight the dynamic midfielder, Elton Chifamba. Born in 2003, Elton Chifamba has played in the Crew’s development academy since the U13/14 age group. Additionally, he has been a semi-regular call-up for his respective national team age groups last joining the U16s for a camp in September of 2019. The midfielder has shown significant technical growth over the last two seasons leading him to a training stint with the Crew first team late last season. That continued growth may well see him become a rock in the midfield for the U.S U20s and one of the best of the 2003 age group.
+ Defensive Awareness
Firstly, Elton Chifamba is one of the more dynamic midfielders in the ’03 age group. He possesses an elite engine that aids him in his offensive and defensive responsibilities. When he is caught slightly out of position he has that bit of agility to recover and cut off the attack. Conversely, he pairs his engine and attacking intelligence to cause the opposing team problems well into the 90th minute.
Additionally, Elton has an innate ability to remain calm under pressure. He’s an intelligent player who does what he can to retain the ball and doesn’t necessarily force the ball forward when it doesn’t need to be. I’d consider Elton a top-tier midfield metronome. Not often does he pad the stat book, but he does a lot of the unseen work like dictate the pace of play. When Crew is up against it, you’ll often see Elton slow things down by maintaining possession yet when they’re pushing forward he is breaking lines with intelligent passing. If there’s an optimistic nugget to find in player development in the United States it’s that we’re starting to produce two-way intelligent players just like Elton Chifamba.
Lastly, Elton has above-average defensive awareness. When you watch his games you often see him with his head on a swivel then repositioning himself to close down an attack. Even when he doesn’t win the ball he often forces the attacking team to readjust and push the ball to a less dangerous area a valuable trait for any center midfielder. As stated above, his engine allows for elite recovery as well. When Elton does get beat he is acutely aware of the next best area and opportunity to win the ball back.
Areas to Improve
Personally, I’d love to see Elton become more progressive in his passing. He possesses that skillset but oftentimes seems a tad too pragmatic. Additionally, I’d like to see Elton more confident in the press. When he is at his best defensively he is shutting down passing lanes and tracking back to clean up attacks. However, I’d like to see more of him causing problems for attackers before they pass his initial line of confrontation.
Regardless, Elton Chifamba is one to watch over the next few years and two U.S. U20 cycles. The 2003 midfielder, and a few of his teammates, have already trained alongside the Columbus Crew SC first team and for good reason. He is one of the more under-appreciated and under-rated prospects amongst his cohort and I look forward to seeing his stock grow as improves as a midfielder and more first-team opportunities arise.