Charlotte FC have signed their first out-and-out attacker in a young, exciting Brazilian. Vinicius Mello will look to continue his development under Charlotte FC head coach Miguel Ramírez, who previously coached him at Brazilian club Internacional.
Mello was acquired through MLS’s new U-22 Initiative that encourages teams to acquire and develop young talent.
At just 19 years old, Mello is far from a final product, but he has shown ability beyond his age. He has several characteristics that fit the striker profile needed in the Club’s possession-based, attacking game model.
Brazilian players are known for technical proficiency and Mello is no different. When watching Mello play, the first thing that stands out about him is his control of the ball, the clever touches, well-weighted passes, and his intricate dribbling in tight spaces.
These are signs of excellent technique but not the kind that you associate with players that pull off extravagant tricks and moves. Rather, Mello has what is known as functional technique.
Technique in soccer is the body’s mechanical execution to affect the ball. Abilities like having a good first touch, passing accuracy, and ball control will be utilized in every game therefore making them “functional” techniques.
“Mello is a very technical player, especially when it comes to his functional technique.” said Charlotte FC Director of Scouting Thomas Schaling. “His first touch and the way he prepares himself for the next action whenever he receives the ball is a real strength of his.”
While not glamorous, it’s proficiency in these little things that differentiate the good players from the great players. Mello arrives at Charlotte with a strong technical capability that is the foundation for every aspect of his game.
Just calling Mello a striker is too general and broad of a term. There are different striker archetypes that players tend to fall into, such as poachers, target men, pressing forwards, etc.
Mello falls into the connector archetype which differs from what most people think of as a traditional striker.
“Mello is what I call a connector,” Head Coach Miguel Ramírez said. “He brings his teammates into the game and is a facilitator for the team in the buildup.”
Mello excels at playing with his back to goal. He drops down, receives the ball from teammates and then lays it off for them or switches the point of the attack for the team.
It’s due to Mello’s superb spatial awareness that he can play this connecting role so effectively. It may seem obvious that knowing what is going on around you is important, but it’s a lot harder said than done, especially for younger players.
“Mello is very aware of the movement around him and he has the quality to find and connect with teammates,” said Schaling.
Having good spatial awareness is seeing space clearly across the entire pitch and utilizing it to your team’s advantage. It’s this capability that has allowed Mello to thrive in a connector role.
While not the most glamorous striker role, it’s important in Charlotte FC’s game model. When you are playing a positional, possession-based system, having a striker who can identify where his teammates are at all times and link play is vital.
Mello is an intelligent player who has the technical ability to match but is still learning how to adjust to the first team level. Still in the infancy of his professional career, Mello is yet another exciting Charlotte FC prospect for fans to keep an eye on.