Name: Chris Thaggard
Club: Charlotte MLS (TBD); Previous: Queen City Mutiny
Age/Age Group: 2005
With Charlotte preparing to join Major League Soccer in 2021, the club has been busy bringing some of the brightest youth talents in the Carolinas to their academy. Arguably none of those talents shine brighter than ’05 striker Chris Thaggard. Pure stats can be a complicated way to judge talent, there’s a lot more that goes into evaluation than simply goals scored or assists. However, that may be a different story when it comes to Chris. In his three and half seasons in his young Development Academy career, the forward from Harrisburg, NC has scored a whopping 126 goals. Chris will join Charlotte’s U17 academy as one of their younger players – it will also be interesting to see how the level of play is elevated within the new MLS Academy league and how players like Chris, who clearly dominated their DA age groups, transition.
+ Dribbling Ability
+ Right Foot
+ Strength & Acceleration
To start, Chris is one of the most talented dribblers that I’ve seen for his age. He possesses a calmness that allows him to find space and escape no matter the amount of pressure that is surrounding him. However, his confidence in his ability can sometimes lead him into trouble. I’ve noticed at times that he gets tunnel vision, shrugs off a pass to an open teammate, and dribbles needlessly into pressure. The best dribblers in the world know the space they can exploit and when that space runs out. I have no doubt that as Chris grows as a player he can begin to designate the minute differences between the spaces he should be dribbling because they can be exploited and create an opportunity for his team rather than dribbling simply to dribble.
Secondarily, Chris Thaggard has an elite right foot. When you watch him dribble you can tell just how comfortable and confident he is with this foot. He uses all areas of his cleat, the outside, inside, and bottom to move the ball ever so subtly into a spot that he can explode into. Throughout the highlight clips above, you’ll see him using his right foot to reposition the ball to a spot that his advantageous to his dribble – it really is ahead of his time. Having such a deft ability with one foot though can have consequences. Chris relies heavily on his right foot to advance his dribble and does not often use his left to assist his progress. Again, as he gets older and players to begin to understand his reliance on his right foot he’ll be forced to practice and use his left to unbalance the opponent.
Even without his reliance on his left, Chris already unbalances his opponent with his top-level strength and athleticism. Littered throughout the highlight clips you’ll see Chris get the ball in space and explode past his first defender. If he’s not exploding into space you’ll see him shrugging off every opposing player that comes within his cone of solitude until he has space to either move the ball or take a shot. The most positive aspect of this is that Chris already has great control of this ability and his body, he knows exactly when to push the ball and use his strength to shield the opposing team. This will only help him as he grows as a player.
All in all, Chris Thaggard is still a young, but extremely talented player. He is one of the most intriguing prospects I’ve seen within his cohort. Expect the permanent US U17 head coach to start to give Chris an opportunity to integrate himself into that age group as soon as youth national team play is opened. Watch this space, Chris Thaggard has a foundation that can lead him to a very high level – once he pairs the more tactical aspects of the game with his technical ability it will be very difficult to contain him.