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2015 Union Player Review: Richie Marquez/Steven Vitoria/Ethan White

With this three-in-one review, we try to recap most of the madness that was the Union's center back position.

The Property Brothers.
The Property Brothers.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Richie Marquez

2015 Summary

When Michael Lahoud went down just five minutes into the Union's first meeting with Toronto FC, Richie Marquez sprung from the bench and into the team's back line. From his debut in early May to the season's end in late October, no Union center back logged as many minutes as Marquez. He was the only constant in a constantly changing central defense. While poor form, injury, or a combination of the two sidelined the club's other three center backs for extended periods of time, Marquez stood pat. Through his consistent competency and ability to keep his muscles and tendons in order, the 23-year-old became a defensive mainstay in just his second season.

What did he do right?

Despite his relative inexperience, Marquez displayed a level of decisiveness befitting a hardened MLS veteran. When he stepped up to make a challenge, or rushed to the touchline to clear a ball, he committed wholeheartedly. He was always in control, unwilling to allow ambiguity to creep into his game. His size and athleticism allowed him to act on his intentions, as he has the height to contend with taller target forwards, but enough speed and strength to ensure that quicker attackers won't speed by him.

What did he do wrong?

Not much! His 2015 season was probably better than any best case scenario that could have been envisioned in preseason. Unlike every other center back on the roster, he has no demonstrated weakness.

Most memorable moment

Sadly, it's this. The life of a center back.

Future expectations

Despite his solid campaign, it's hard to say if Marquez will play as much of a role next year. Maurice Edu, flawed he may be, is assured a starting spot as a result of his team-high salary. Given the team's defensive inconsistencies in 2015, the front office may feel compelled to bolster the back line with an experienced center back, sending Marquez to the bench.

Marquez's ceiling is tough to estimate. Though he shot out of the gates, it is still not yet known whether or not he has the ability to lead the Union's defense for years to come. Given the Union's noted inability to develop players, his progression will be put under a microscope. In the near future, he projects as a rotational player who provides great ability at a meager salary.

Steven Vitoria

2015 Summary

Acquired on loan from Benfica's B team, Vitoria was one of the Union's two marquee offseason signings. Chris Albright and Jim Curtin clearly had confidence in the Portuguese center back, as they handed him a $400,000 salary and a starting spot. This backfired almost immediately.

Vitoria's poor start was ended by an injury that would sideline him for nearly three months. By the time he returned to full health, Richie Marquez and Maurice Edu had assured their places in the center of defense. When Edu tore his groin in early August, Vitoria was given another run in the starting lineup. His play was much better the second time around, as he started to show glimpses of what the Union's technical staff saw in him in the winter.

What did he do right?

In his second extended run of games, Vitoria was a force both in the air and on the ground.

What did he do wrong?

The biggest knock on Vitoria is his overall lack of athleticism. Standing at 6-5, he's a towering, lumbering figure. His paltry hops restrict him from becoming truly dominant in the air, and his sluggishness renders him susceptible to abuse in any situation where running is involved. His decision-making and marking are poor and do nothing to ease the disadvantages presented by his physique.

Most memorable moment

One time, Sebastien Le Toux said that Vitoria and Marquez look like HGTV's "Property Brothers" and that really stuck with me.

Future expectations

He's hardly justified his exorbitant salary, and he will be returning to Benfica in the offseason, in all likelihood.

Ethan White

2015 Summary

White was an opening day starter, lining up next to Steven Vitoria in the center of defense. He lost his spot in the XI before April, as Maurice Edu slid into defense to take over for him. After being demoted, he started several games throughout the season due to miscellaneous injuries, suspensions, and lineup rotations. He ended his season on a high note, earning MLS Team of the Week honors in late September.

What did he do right?

White's speed allows him to cover a ton of ground from the center back position. His tremendous strength and low center of gravity gives him an advantage in the challenge.

What did he do wrong?

White is on the shorter side and his decision-making is a hindrance, but he has one weakness that outweighs all others: his passing. For some reason, Ethan White seemed to have the green light to ping long balls from the back. This is puzzling for two reasons: 1) He is really bad at this and 2) Vincent Nogueira, a great passer, often drops deep to pick up the ball, meaning that Ethan White's passes should go no farther than the Frenchman. Whether or not the mandate to go long came from on high, it's pretty clear that passing is not White's forte.

Most memorable moment

I'm really sorry about this.

Future expectations

Ethan White is a serviceable MLS center back at a reasonable salary. He shouldn't ever be a starter for this team, but he provides good depth, and that's something the Union have rarely had, historically.