By: Eddie Hobbs
After being selected to First Team All-Big Ten in 2016, Amar Sejdic was slated to have a big season as the Terps main midfielder in 2017. Sejdic posted nine goals and nine assists to help lead his team to an undefeated regular season.
Although Sejdic has started all seven games for Maryland in 2017, he has not produced like he did last year. He has attempted 10 shots with six of them on goal. His shots on goal percentage is very good, but Sejdic has not been able to put the ball into the net and he has not delivered any assists this year.
The season is very long and he has time to break out and get a few goals and assists. But what has the difference been so far this year?
For starters, the defense has changed somewhat from last year. Sejdic was shifted back as more of a defensive midfielder rather than a featured offensive threat in the beginning of the year. Now that Andrew Samuels is the main defensive midfielder who everything runs through, Sejdic can push the ball up field more.
“With this whole formation change, having Samuels now as a holding midfielder, we have more stability,” Sejdic said. “We trust him a lot defensively, and it allows me, Jake [Rozhansky], and Eric [Matzelevich] to push up higher in the field. For us three, that is what we are best at is creating chances.”
It is well known that Sejdic likes the be on the top of the field, he is an offensive player at heart. Over the past few games, Sejdic has had an uptick in shots and in the games against Rutgers and most recently Penn State he has combined to have six shots with three of them on goal.
“I started off the season playing more as a defensive mid, so I took that responsibility and [head coach] Sasho [Cirovski] wanted me to have the mentality as more defensively than attacking,” Sejdic said. “I kind of took that to heart and I did my role, but now playing higher up on the field, I’m getting more shots on goal and put more people in the play. I try not to think about statistics, I just want to make a difference for my team.”
It has paid off to drill the defensive mentality into the players this year. Since Cirovski lost some backline players and the starting keeper due to graduation, it makes sense to create more of a defensive mindset with the midfielders. Coming into the year, Cirovski knew that the offensive firepower would be there, but the defense would need some help.
“Amar is a box to box midfielder, he can play any of the positions, and he is a great passer,” Cirovski said. “He is one of the rhythm guys of our team, he has just been a very good midfielder for us this year.”
Going against a tough Michigan State team on Friday that has only allowed one goal this whole season, the Terps will need all of the offensive firepower they can get.
Sejdic hopes to provide that spark.