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Final Exams: Chris McCann

It was an up and down first year for the Irishman.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Atlanta United FC John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the Atlanta United players who made more than Chris McCann this season:

Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez, Carlos Carmona, Tito Villalba and…

*checking again for like the 40th time*

Yep. That’s it.

McCann picked up a $568,000 dollar paycheck in 2017 after starting just 10 games, six of those coming as a makeshift leftback for the injured Greg Garza.

Is it his fault the ATLUTD front office decided to throw somewhat ridiculous-by-MLS-terms money at a 30-year-old English Championship regular who had no real place in the first-XI once Tata Martino became manager two months later? No. In fact, good for him. It does however become a major factor when considering his value to the club in 2017 and beyond.

Chris McCann - 10 Starts, 24 Appearances, 2 Assists

What went right this season?

If I had written this in August the answer would have been practically nothing. A handful of late substitution appearances and a few scattered starts with little output were all McCann had to his name.

But, starting with a 3-3 draw against Orlando City on Sept. 16, McCann began a surprising late season run at leftback. He kind of crushed it.

According to soccer analytics site WhoScored.com, McCann posted an average game score of 7.26 in his six starts at leftback. Garza, an MLS All-Star, averaged a game score of 6.96 in 25 starts over the season. A 7.26 game score over the season would place McCann in between the season score of Miguel Almiron and Yamil Asad, making him the fourth-best performer on the team. The fifth-highest paid player would have earned more than his keep.

Obviously McCann’s numbers come from a small sample size, and I’m not saying he’s as good as those guys by any stretch, or that he would have kept those numbers had he been the starting leftback from day one. He wouldn’t have. Dont @ me. But it does accentuate the point that he filled in at a key position when a key player went down during a key run of games for the team and did well, if not great. For that he deserves some commendation. Was it 568k worth of work? No. But he still did more than asked in an unexpected spot.

Also, it’s unfair to not mention that he seems to be phenomenal clubhouse guy. Another excellent personality that help keep things together and establish a culture for a new team.

What does he need to improve on?

Frankly, a lot if he wants to be a major contributor for ATLUTD. But at 30-years-old McCann isn’t going to take a great leap forward anytime soon. He’s going to put in a decent performance when he comes in. Nothing more, hopefully nothing less. His job is to keep things from unraveling completely while he’s in and unless his abilities fall off a cliff, he’ll continue to do enough to manage matches without being a liability or a game changer.

What role will he play in 2018?

If he’s still around, expect McCann to play a similar role to this season: Substitute appearances a plenty, and last resort shifts at the defensive midfield and fullback positions. With a quality off-season from Atlanta United, McCann will slide further even down the depth chart.

By no fault of his own, his contract is a problem. He’s being paid too much to do too little. He will likely be unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft although it would take some convincing and a little luck to have LAFC take his contract off our hands. Don’t be surprised if the front office gets creative in finding a way to offload him (and that contract) this season.

Final Grade

Chris McCann the squad rotation player: B

Chris McCann the fifth-highest paid player on the team: D+

Overall: C

P.S.

When considering McCann’s season, one thing kept floating around my mind. You guessed it. The movies of american-cinematic actor Nicolas Cage.

This lead to brief rewatch of the best parts of Con Air, a lot of theory reworking, and unfortunately, this:

Here’s my thinking (I know it’s a stretch just stay with me): Chris McCann didn’t exactly throw down Oscar worthy performance after Oscar worthy performance. In fact, when we saw that he was in the lineup, many of us braced for the worst. By the end of the game though, we weren’t completely disappointed. Was his performance incredible, or even, you know, “good”? No, almost definitely not, but he did enough to keep us from hating everything for two hours. It’s the same feeling you get after watching a Nic Cage movie, right along with the feeling that the studio definitely paid way, way too much for Nic Cage to be there.

At the end of the day, Chris McCann was passable enough to not be the worst thing we’ve ever seen, and you can’t blame the guy for taking the money. Just like Nic Cage in...I want to say “Face/Off”?