Player Report – Venton Evans

Nationality: Jamaican (capped at U22 level)

Age: 23

Birthday: 6/19/1998

Height: 6’0

Weight: 172 lbs

Current Club: Greenville Triumph (Transfer from Fort Lauderdale)

Position: Winger

Alternate Position(s): Central Midfield

Preferred Foot: Right

Venton Evans came into the USL League One season with a bang, scoring a beautiful header from close range in the 14th minute of his debut. For many people, his was a name that hadn’t been heard before. Having just transferred from Jamaican Premier League side University of West Indies FC, the relatively unknown right winger made sure people would remember his name. Despite the strong start, it was still very much a big transition to a new league and it was an up and down year for Evans. Evans’ switch to the right wing was also very recent, which made the transition to a new league even harder. Averaging 69 minutes per game, he played in 21 of Fort Lauderdale’s League One matches. Even with 21 matches under his belt, he only got 6 full 90 minute runs. I don’t know if this is an issue of stamina or just the academy conundrum (more likely the latter), but he’ll definitely be looking for some consistency in 2022.

Heatmap Credit: SofaScore

Venton’s primary role for Fort Lauderdale was on the right wing, but he tended to move between both wings throughout the season, even switching wings during games on a frequent basis. This was a big shift for Venton as he tended to play as a CM/DM for one of his more recent clubs and at the international level. You can see a lot of that desire to play centrally in Venton’s game, even when he’s playing out on the wings. His ability to drift inside and rotate with other members of the front line and midfield caused a lot of problems for opposing defenses and his positioning, even if he didn’t score or assist, tended to help open up space for FTL to work the ball forward. It will be interesting to see how Greenville decide to deploy Venton Evans in 2022 with the needs they have. They were desperate for more versatility in attack at some points in the season, but they also only have 3 central midfielders as of the publishing of this article. Will Venton move back into that space or will he continue to develop his skills as a winger? Only time will tell and honestly, I’d be pretty excited about both.

MOVEMENT/POSITIONING/BALL CARRYING

One of the particularly threatening aspects of Evans’ game this season was his ability to attack dangerous spaces and specifically attacking the seam between the Fullback and CB. He made all kinds of dangerous runs through that space when defenders gave him an inch and it resulted in some dangerous chances and even some goals. Even when it wasn’t through the seam, if Evans made a run behind the defense, there was likely some uneasiness along the back line. You can see in both of the shots below, he pounces on any space you leave in between defenders. Ironically, a lot of the intelligence and awareness to move into these areas comes from typically being the person to pass to people making these runs. He made passes like this quite frequently for Jamaica at the Lima Tournament in 2019.

It wasn’t just runs in behind that aided in the FTL attack though. His awareness to drift inside, pick up passes, and keep progressing the ball forward were important when he was on the field.. You can see from these passing and heat maps that he spends a lot of time within the width of the penalty area. Part of this was the tactical set up of FTL as they moved into the final third and some of this is just that Evans seems to feel more at home the more central he sits.

Credit for all four pictures: USL League One Match Center/Opta

In this game against NCFC, he didn’t light up the field, but he put in a good shift for his team. He worked hard to win the ball back, helped progress the ball, and drifted into the center of the field and sets up a nice goal with the pre-assist. you can see in this play how he’s within sprinting distance of breaking up a wayward pass before drifting inside to help build play into the box, before making a beautiful pass that helps contribute to a goal.

Credit: USL League One

While Evans isn’t the most flashy player who’s lighting up the stats boards, he’s efficient, reliable, and good at interrupting attacking plays. In a team that was easily dribbled past, Evans was the 3rd lowest member of the FTL team in the “dribbled past per90 stat. The only players who were dribbled past less were Hundaal and Curry, who played striker (CBs aren’t typically looking to McGeady spin a pressing striker). Evans broke up play well, completing as many tackles per 90 as Max Hemmings and Don Smart and a good bit more than any winger on the Triumph. A lot of this had to do with his propensity to track back quickly and work to pressure and recover the ball. You can see on his heat maps that he had a lot of action in FTL’s own half most games, both in and out of possession. On the dribble, he’s quite efficient, completing 59% of his dribbles, which was a higher percentage than anyone on the Triumph other than Don Smart managed last season. The caveat to this is that he’s not a particularly progressive dribbler on the wing, but he’s good at keeping the ball. He often used his dribbling ability as a safety mechanism rather than to take on defenders 1v1 (he has done this, it’s just not quite his forte as of yet. I think it may have more to do with learning a new position rather than his ability) and it typically works, rarely being dispossessed or losing possession in any way. Even so, there were some flashes of confidence in taking on defenders and it could be exciting to see that continue to develop. He’s also got a pretty good first touch, securing the ball at his feet quickly to help keep play moving.

Another point to highlight is his strength, which is a big part of his ball carrying and retention. You can see in the clip below how he receives the ball, gets his back to the defender, helps progress play via the overlapping full back, and it ends up resulting in a goal.

Credit: USL League One

PASSING AND CROSSING

Venton definitely looked like he had a tough time adjusting to the new position from this perspective. He has the 4th lowest cross percentage in the league of people above 0% with 9%. This is an interesting stat when thinking about Greenville’s play style for portions of last year, though this could indicate a change. Outside of crosses though, he had a very efficient passing display being well above average in the opponents half as seen in the radar at the top. I really think that Evans is far better at progressing the ball centrally than he has shown out wide so far. I could watch his Jamaican U22 highlights on repeat forever because of this reason. See below:

Credit: Venton Evans Highlight Reel, see bottom of article for link.

Venton has a great passing range on him and looks far more comfortable when he’s in the middle of the park. You can see this going back to the goal against NC. His passes, while accurate, were far less progressive out wide this season compared to other wingers and again I think this has more to do with learning a new position than it does him being capable of executing passes. Expect him to improve on that in the coming season if he continues to play out wide.

SHOOTING

This section is an interesting one, because in my opinion (does my opinion REALLY matter?) he has somewhat poor shot selection, BUT most of his shots look super fun. Like do I want him to take them… not ALL the time, but do I want to be entertained by a beautiful curling shot from the outside edge of the box every now and then? Surely. Even when his shots were on target, a lot of them were too far out to trouble the keeper. He’ll definitely need to use his vision more to pay attention to better available options. That being said, he wasn’t a BAD shooter. When he got into good positions, his shots were typically executed well. He scored 4 goals from dangerous positions and really unsettled defenses. It’s just a matter now of looking to better positioned options rather than taking really low quality shots, even when they’re DOPE looking (this isn’t an official scout report, so I can word things however I want).

Editors Note: while his shot selection at FTL wasn’t perfect, you can see how he can be absolutely lethal when afforded opportunities. His two-footedness really makes it hard to contain him in front of goal.
Shot Map against NCFC. You can see that even when shots are on target, they’re often at wider angles or from quite far out, neutralizing their venom. He’s scored from these positions, but probably could’ve provided more had he looked for better options. Credit: USL League One Match Center/Opta

Venton Evans is an incredibly versatile player with huge upside no matter where he plays. Secure on the ball, progressive, and quite intelligent, we’ll likely see a good season from the Jamaican midfielder. I’d expect his trajectory to continue upward as he adapts to a new league and position (if he continues as a winger). As a Triumph fan myself, I’m quite excited about the signing’s possibilities. Welcome to Greenville, Venton!

You can view some Venton Evans Highlights Here: PanAmerica Highlights, FTL 2021

Go give them a look and a like!

*Featured Image Credit to Inter Miami CF*

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s