After a long trial with Nashville SC (his departure from his previous club, NAC Breda, was announced Jan. 18), midfielder Vinnie Vermeer has signed with the Boys in Gold. What has NSC won?
The 23-year old is Dutch and has almost always played in the Netherlands (aside from a couple-month stint with Azogues in Ecuador), so a hop across the pond should be pretty interesting. He had no first-team appearances for Breda this season (US International Erik Palmer-Brown has seven complete games for the same team – worth noting that EPB is a Sporting Kansas City product… from the timeframe that Nashville technical director Mike Jacobs was with SKC).
Vermeer is a little guy – standing 5-7, and certainly not looking like a bowling ball in terms of build – so he’s not going to be a defensive stopper in central midfield thanks to physical play, but he does have the skill to get the job done. Although we have a much broader perspective, given that he’s been with the team for a month and played in three friendlies, let’s go to his film from Breda:
Though primarily a defensive or holding midfielder, the highlights start with a display of his knack for picking moments to get forward, use the space made available to him, and contribute offensively.
However, the primary asset to his game is similar to one we’ve seen from current D-mid Bolu Akinyode: he can possess the ball cleanly, not give it away, and recycle possession while keeping the opponent’s defense pinned back. He appears to be quite a bit more penetrating with his passes (though of course he doesn’t have remotely the physical frame that Akinyode has). He has a very nice touch, good vision, and competent passing both short and long.
Defensively, he tackles without leaving his feet (though he’s capable of the slide, as well) and works hard to get into the forward effort, whether that’s making a run or positioning himself to receive a pass and allow teammates to make their runs that he then looks to hit. One thing that he brings that’s probably unique to the position (outside of Matt LaGrassa, who I view as more of a multi-positional guy than one who’s strictly a member of a double-pivot) is the motor and athleticism to make major contributions on both the offensive and defensive end without exposing the team to be caught without numbers at the back or without adequate numbers in the offensive third to create scoring chances.
Of course, given that he led the team in minutes during their time in Florida (153 across two games) and made a nice runout when we actually had an opportunity to watch in Birmingham (45 minutes), we have a bit more data on how he fits into the team positionally – as one of the halves of a double-pivot central midfield – and how well he does – quite well – within the system. I’ve also asked Gary Smith about him in the past.
“Vinnie is a very good technician,” Smith said last week. “He looks like he’s been schooled ever-so-well. Really bright and intelligent football mind, and he brings with him some very good education from the Dutch League. He offers us something that’s a slightly different dimension in that central midfield area, and he’s of a really good age: he’s 23, he’s still learning the game. He’s got plenty of future in front of him.”
Smith points out that you do typically expect players who come through Dutch youth systems to be well-schooled, and that’s appeared to be the case in the limited live action we’ve been able to see out of Vermeer. He’s a young guy, and there’s plenty of reason to believe he does indeed have a bright future. That may not be with Nashville in the long term – only Cameron Lancaster and Daniel Ríos have those spots locked down – but a possibility.
Vermeer is another international player, and USL teams only have seven slots available. Without knowing the full specifics of who does and doesn’t count (Akinyode, Liam Doyle, Ramone Howell, Kosuke Kimura, Lancaster, Ropapa Mensah, Lebo Moloto, and Ríos are not American, though some of them are green card holders and don’t count against international slots – Kimura is the only one that’s known to be the case for, while you could assume guys who have been in the country for a decade-plus and played college soccer are good bets), it does mean Nashville SC is possibly starting to fill up there. It isn’t an issue now, but might limit future roster flexibility over the course of this season.