Justin Davis juggling the ball.

Photo by Dan Mick.

The Angle

The Sweet Spot: Saying Goodbye to Justin Davis and Kevin Venegas

by on 16 January 2018

With the news that Justin Davis has moved to Nashville SC of the USL this week, I was reminded of something I’ve thought of often in soccer: the sweet spot. By sweet spot, I’m referring to how tricky it is for a player to find just the right spot for them.

Each player brings a unique set of skills. As we know, no two left backs are exactly alike, although they tend to share a number of skills in common.

Then, you have to consider how those skills mesh with their team’s tactics and the other players on the pitch, let alone the opposition.

Players need to also consider a myriad of other variables like playing conditions, location, salary.

When you add it all together, it sometimes seems amazing that players ever find a place where they can excel.

But for 4 years or so, Justin Davis and his defensive partner Kevin Venegas had an amazing run as Minnesota’s full backs. Their defensive acumen was enough to stop all but the very best or very lucky in the second division NASL, and their speed, skill with the ball, and passing were top class every year.

Watching highlights of the two from their time with the NASL version of Minnesota United, I was reminded of just how beautiful it was to watch them play. Justin Davis was my favorite player as a fan, and I loved to watch his long runs up and down the field as he would snuff out an attack on one end and then lead it on the other.

Kevin Venegas would shock everyone on the field with his ball skills and fearlessness when he would get close to goal.

I understand that both of them had earned a chance with the MLS side, and in any case, had to challenge themselves at the top level. If Davis and Venegas had stayed with a second division team where they would have played every week and produced more amazing highlights, they would have always questioned that decision.

But when you think of the beauty that they were able to bring at that level, a part of me is glad to see Davis back there, and hopefully Venegas will find a similar place.

I don’t want these two players riding the pine in a league where they just don’t fit in well. I want them out on the pitch, giving their all.

I want to see more Davis slide tackles and overlapping runs. I want to see more Venegas slaloming between defenders in on goal.

I want them showing the fans in the stands just what beautiful, amazing players they are.

Good luck Justin Davis and Kevin Venegas, and thank you for all the beautiful soccer.

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