New England Soccer Today

Friday Crossfire: Should Kheli Dube start on the right for the remainder of the season?

Every Friday, New England Soccer Today will tackle a pressing issue in the world of soccer. Each topic will be argued by a different writer each week,  with guest writers periodically appearing to add some flavor to the mix.

This week, the topic is: Should Kheli Dube finish out the season on the right? Arguing in the affirmative is Brian O’Connell, while Sean Donahue presents the dissenting view.

YES. And here’s why: prior to Saturday night’s game against Seattle, Kheli Dube had played in 13 games at striker this season, and had zero goals in those games. Zero as in zero. That’s not to say he’s a bad player. By no means. But when you’re talking about a striker who had taken 25 shots – third highest on the team – without a single goal, well, you have to start thinking about other options.

One such option, which Nicol employed during the aforementioned match, was debuting Dube as the right-sided midfielder. It was brilliant. While Sainey Nyassi was off gallivanting with the Gambian National Team (along with his fellow mate, Kenny Mansally), Dube did more than just hold the spot. He was masterful on the ball. His crosses were sent with purpose. His runs were smooth. Oh, and of course, he punched through his first goal of the season. Coincidence? I think not. In short, it looked like he had played there all along.

Should Kheli Dube continue to start on the right? (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

Now, I’m not saying that Dube is completely finished as a striker. Not at all. We know he can score goals. But this season, it’s fairly  obvious that the quality of his passing has exceeded the caliber of his finishing. Plus, with all of the postseason chips pretty much gone, why not utilize the versatile Dube out on the right?

NO: Kheli Dube put in a great performance at right midfield on Saturday, but the spot is still Sainey Nyassi’s to lose. Nyassi, a natural right midfielder, has proven over the past couple years that most MLS defenders cannot keep up with his speed, oftentimes forcing them to adjust matchups or put two defenders on him. Though Dube is fast, he does not have the same speed as Nyassi.

It’s not just the blazing speed that gives Nyassi the edge, but also his crossing ability. Nyassi has proven he can serve in a dangerous cross, if inconsistently. Dube has yet to prove he has the same capabilities, despite the importance of crossing from both wings if the team is to stretch the defense going forward. Let’s not forget Nyassi is only 21 as well. He has a bright future with the team, potentially for years to come, and is still improving. Dube, at 27, does not have quite the same upside.

With the season winding down and the Revs likely out of the playoffs, people may argue now is the time to build more depth by giving Dube more time on the right. In reality, it is Nyassi that needs more time on the right to continue to develop and gain more consistency, as he is likely to once again be a vital part of the Revs’ offense next season.

That’s not to say Dube shouldn’t be rewarded for his good performance. In fact, his performance, combined with his four assists this season, which all came as a forward, show he should be starting at forward in the suspended Marko Perovic’s place tonight. Going forward, Dube should be one of the first options off the bench both up top and on the right.


  1. Dan

    September 13, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Dube is a 4th forward at best. No way should the Revs seat Nyassi for Dube. what little spark the Revs offense
    has is usually generated somehow by Nyassi’s speed. Whether it’s a fast break, getting the defender tired by
    making runs down the flank or backtracking on defense, Nyassi is now becoming the right mid we have been
    looking for. To sit him down now for Dube would be a tragic mistake in his developement. Play dube up front
    with Stoli, drop Perovic back and put Tierney or Phelan on the bench

  2. sal

    September 15, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    what Dan said.

    Dube should’nt be starting at all, although the same can be said for half the starting lineup (Looking at you Khano).

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