End of Season Report Cards: Part IV

Moving down the list

Another group of players get their assessments.

Ryan James

Final Grade: B+

Having been a regular starter in 2021 (27 starts) Ryan found himself demoted mostly to the bench in 2022, making just 28 appearances and 13 starts. Used as both left back and left mid, he doesn’t match Jonny Dean’s speed and was useful largely in clean-up duty. Even so, he did manage a goal and 2 assists, but also picked up the third of the Legion’s 3 red cards this season. I suspect the Legion will be looking to beef up the left side this winter.

Jake Rufe

Final Grade: A

No one had a more turbulent year than Alabama native Jake Rufe. He did not play in the first 6 games of the league season and wasn’t even in the squad for one of them. For the next 5 he was a lateish sub, before finally starting the next 5. And then he missed 7 games thanks to Wesley Charpie’s disgraceful foul. Once back to health he was a semi-regular starter, getting another 5 starts and going the distance in 4 of them. He was mostly used as a left back, where he performed well, although he is nominally a right back. In the end he had the second most defensive actions (on a per minute basis) on the team after Alex.

Sadik Balarabe

Final Grade: A-

Londoner Sadik (yay!) was signed in early July. Due to visa issues didn’t make it to the US until August, but once here played in every game for the remainder of the season (13 games, 1 start). He scored in his first game and had one more (the game-winner against Pittsburgh), as well as an assist. Playing equally well as a left attacking mid or as striker, he is a very physical presence and could be a significant part of the overall plan if he sticks around next year.

Edi Horvat

Final Grade: B-

Also partly a victim of visa problems, Edi arrived in Birmingham with an impressive highlight reel from his time in Slovenia. A fast and strong forward, he looked like he was going to be very useful. In the end, he made just 14 appearances with 2 starts. He got just 1 assist and no goals. After late July he did not play again and was on the bench just once. That’s the same time that Sadik arrived, which is almost certainly not a coincidence. His time in the Magic City is likely done. Still, he’s a promising young talent with a bright future.

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