This is part 2 of our “Unsung Heroes” series, with my (Eric Walcott) thoughts on United midfielder/defender Leigh Rumbold. For part 1 of our series focused on midfielder Greg Timmer and can be found here.
If you look at the Lansing United stat sheet for this season, his name won’t jump out at you, but make no mistake, Leigh Rumbold has been instrumental in United’s success this season. In the 5 games Rumbold has played United has only 1 loss, on the road to division leaders DCFC. His importance doesn’t shine through with goals or assists but if you pay attention during games you notice that he’s like a coach on the field. This was especially evident and important early in the season as United sought to develop it’s identity and playing style. When you have a young team that’s never played together chemistry is always going to be a challenge, and having a player like Leigh on the field who’s always talking can help a team hold strong in high pressure moments or break out when the opportunity presents itself.
In addition to being a leader with his voice, Rumbold has shown a willingness to do whatever is needed for the team to succeed, and the ability to do it well. After excelling in the midfield early in the year, he was asked to fill in at CB this past weekend as injuries left the backline depleted. Rumbold filled in admirably, consistently breaking up the opposing attack and turning defense into offense with quick transition play. He was his usual vocal self, constantly organizing the defense and pushing the line to pressure the opposition midfield.
As United finishes the season with 4 must-win games, I hope to see Leigh back in the midfield, partnered with the focus of our previous post, Greg Timmer. The two seemed to have developed a strong partnership early in the year, smartly balancing when to press the attack and when to sit in more of a holding role between the two of them. Their discipline, solid defensive work and quality transitional play will be vital if United are going to end up in a playoff spot at the end of the season.