Zach Scott Against Houston Dynamo (Photo Courtesy JaneG. Photography)
The joke in these parts is that Zach Scott is a man marker. He's a bit more than that, and he doesn't really man mark as he still has a zone, but Zach Scott: Man Marker flows so smoothly. Instead, he's a shutdown fullback. Like a shutdown corner in the other football he removes a part of the field from the oppositions strategy. The Houston Dynamo tried to use Brad Davis. It just didn't work out very well.
In face in their loss to the Seattle Sounders on Saturday night Davis attempted 14 crosses and only completed five for a 35.7% crossing percentage. He was tackled and/or loss possession 16 times. All of this while Zach Scott recorded zero fouls.
This isn't the first time that Scott has shut down an MVP caliber player. In 2011 he earned the nickname ZS:MM by forcing Brek Shea to switch sides in MLS and Open Cup play. In 2010 Sebastien Le Toux got the treatment. For Scott, it isn't just about how he plays.
"I don't know if I'm shutting down, or just really trying to limit their chances," he stated after practice Monday. "I think we do a good job team wide of recognizing where their danger players are and using somebody like me, getting someone like Roger helping out, getting Brad and Ozzie to slide over and really just eliminate that option for them."
It takes a team to take a player as good as Davis out of the game. But it was also apparent that it got into Brad Davis' head. At one point Davis emptied his left mid role and walked over to the right. There was no interchange, Colin Clark was still on the right. Corey Ashe did not come forward. The Dynamo just left Scott's zone empty. Since they couldn't run their offense effectively through Scott's zone they left it empty. That put Scott into a situation where he could cheat over to the targets of the crosses and shut them down.
Scott knows it takes hard work to take players of Davis', Le Toux', Shea's quality out of the game.
"With players like those you give them time and space and they're going to pick you apart. I try to make it my goal to get in as quickly as possible," Scott said. "If I can't steal the ball, I at least force them back and then get a piece of them if they try to turn and play a one-two."
This weekend with the San Jose Earthquakes in town Scott may start again, or may not. Adam Johansson is still trying to recover from his sore hamstring. "When my numbers called again I'll do the same thing. I'll play whatever role I'm asked to."
That role can include taking some of the best players in the league entirely out of their game.