Americans Abroad: John Brooks

In our next edition of Americans Abroad, we highlight a man who goes by the name of John Brooks. After a couple of seasons of good performances at Hertha Berlin, he’s earned himself a move to Wolfsburg. If his new club have a good season next year, Brooks will certainly be one of the key components to their success.

So what’s made him so good? Well, for one, his large frame makes him a physical presence. At 6’4 and 172 lbs, he’s rather big. Not many target men are going to beat him in the air consistently, nor will they shrug him off. Another noteworthy feature is his ability to read the game. Yes, it’s nice to win the ball using your physical features and slide tackling. However, world class center backs have said in the past that they prefer to stay on their feet. This requires excellent reading the game. As Johan Cruyff once said, “Football is played with your head; your feet are the tools.”  Brooks can intercept passes and get in the way of crosses, leading to a good clearance when Hertha are parking the bus. That doesn’t mean he can’t lunge in at times, though. When a sliding challenge is necessary to win the ball, his large frame allows him to cover large amounts of space.

John Brooks is a physical presence, both aerially and in the tackle (Photo: ESPN FC)

Statistically, Brooks had quite a decent season at Hertha Berlin. John Brooks isn’t necessarily the ideal guy you’d want as a libero, but when you’re leading the team in pass accuracy (87%), that’s pretty impressive. It’s not like all of his passes are just back to the keeper or to his center back partner, either. With an average of 23.5M distance per pass, Brooks has distributed the ball effectively. He’s also won over 2/3’s of his aerial duels, proving that he is quite good in the air. Although he’s only made 25 tackles over the course of the season, he has over double that amount of interceptions, with 61. With that being said, he likes to stay on his feet and cut out passes to stop the opposition’s build up play.

Here’s a radar map of John Brooks’ season:

Although Brooks was a solid center back for Hertha, he certainly has his flaws. For one, Brooks is injury prone. He’s missed 7 games due to injury and an extra 2 due to lack of match fitness. This has been an ongoing problem throughout his tenure at Hertha Berlin. Hopefully, it doesn’t tarnish the length of his career but it’s something to keep an eye on for the future. Whether it’s his achilles or adductor giving him problems, it could be serious if it continues to tear over the course of his career. Fortunately, the maximum amount of games he’s ever missed due to one injury is 4 games. However, he can’t afford to suffer the same injuries in the same area of his body.

It’s great being able to play well for your club, but it’s even better if you can perform for your country as well. John Brooks has taken the leadership role for the USMNT very well. Michael Bradley may have the captain’s armband, but Brooks is the one who can organize our defense well and make sure instruction is given to his fellow teammates. Since his iconic World Cup goal vs. Ghana, he’s lead by example and is the heart of our backline. John Brooks has established himself as USA’s best CB as of right now, and his success in recent years shows this. His ability to read the game, his physique, and his leadership make him the well-rounded defender that he is. It’s no surprise why he’s the most expensive American in our history.