Caleb Porter Believes in Giacomo Vrioni
"I believe that my job is to bring out a player's best, to help them reach their potential. And not every player works out, but I believe that Giacomo [Vrioni] will work out."
Giacomo Vrioni struggled to find playing time and truly flourish under Bruce Arena but new head coach Caleb Porter believes that the designated player will “work out” in New England.
Vrioni’s first full season in MLS was a bit of a mixed bag. While he was able to score six goals in league play (nine total in 2023), he struggled to carve out a permanent role in the starting XI making just 13 starts in MLS last season.
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The Designated Player routinely came off the bench and while he was able to score, the goals usually came in bunches as the 25-year-old struggled for consistency.
In his introductory press conference, new head coach Caleb Porter discussed the DP striker and believes he will work out in New England.
“I always look at every player's strengths and I believe that my job is to bring out a player's best, to help them reach their potential,” Porter said. “And not every player works out, but I believe that Giacomo [Vrioni] will work out, and if I didn't, I would have told Curt [Onalfo] that right away. But I actually try to be very objective and open minded. I have opinions of all the players based on watching a lot of games, but I need to be open minded regarding who's going to play, who can play with who. That part of it is very underrated, just the chemistry and unlocking the potential of a player.”
Porter then talked about Vrioni’s strengths and his early conversations with the striker.
“So, for me, Giacomo is a true number nine,” the head coach stated. “He's mobile. I think he's a big boy, he's strong, he can play with his back to goal, although I think we need to work on that a little bit. His movement is good behind the line, he's great in the box, his work rate is good. So, having looked for strikers, it's hard to find a guy that has all those things, to be honest with you. He's got good age. I enjoyed my conversation with him. He's kind of a funny Italian guy, you know what I mean? He's got a good energy. He's shown he can score goals, so I look at how can we help him score goals. How can we put him in positions to finish? How can we organize some ideas and some patterns of play to get him service? I think he can score goals if you put him in the right position. And defensively, it's really important that he's the first line of pressure. He's not a walk around guy, he'll work along with Carles [Gil]. So, if you're nine [and] ten work, then we can do a lot of different things defensively, in terms of pressing. That's huge. I prefer that than having to work around guys that don't work hard.”
The Revs will need Vrioni to work out considering the state of the striker position at the moment. After the departures of Gustavo Bou and Justin Rennicks, Bobby Wood is the only other true striker on the depth chart with Tomas Chancalay also playing up top briefly for New England in 2023.
If Vrioni can improve his hold-up play and not solely rely on his line-breaking runs, he could start scoring more consistently and being the striker that Revs fans expected when he was first acquired. In 2024, his performance will be crucial to New England’s success.
But Porter believes he can unlock Vrioni’s potential and make him a complete striker. Seeing that he coached Gyasi Zardes to some of his best seasons of the American striker’s career in Columbus, he seems to be the right man for the job.