With some of his former Reno 1868 FC teammates already having found new clubs for the 2021 Championship season, Haitian international Christiano Francois remains one of the most attractive free agents currently on the market this offseason.
And, after a season in which he earned his first Championship All-League honor, he’s ready to get back into the action.
“Any club that signs me knows that I will bring something good,” he recently told Beautiful Game Network’s Carson Merk. “I am a team player so I will do anything to make sure I don’t disappoint them. I will sure I do my part and make the team better.”
A dynamic attacking piece, Francois has recorded 14 goals and 14 assists in 47 appearances over the past two seasons, while also notching 67 key passes and 94 completed dribbles. So, where might be a good fit for the 27-year-old in the 2021 season?
There are a couple of reasons why this move would make a lot of sense for both parties. The first is stylistic; Francois is a player that likes to run at opponents – he ranks seventh in attempted dribbles in the past two seasons in the Championship – and San Antonio is a team that likes to not only play aggressively to get its playmakers into space but gives them the freedom to create – the player that tops the dribbles attempted list is Cristiano Parano, the 2019 Championship Young Player of the Year.
But there’s another notable reason why Francois would be a fit, too. Namely that SAFC is going to need a player to lead its attacking line in 2021 after the departure of forward Luis Solignac to Chile’s San Luis. Francois tells Merk he’s looking to play more of a central attacking role compared to the wide roles he’s been employed in recently. With a 55.3 shooting accuracy rate the past two seasons and 18.4 shot conversion rate, it could be worth a spin with Jose Gallegos providing the chances for the Haitian.
SD Loyal found its shooting boots in midseason after the arrival of Rubio Rubin and Miguel Berry midway through its inaugural season, and has already gone out and brought aboard one piece of the potential puzzle for the 2021 season with the signing of Corey Hertzog. What Hertzog may not bring to the side, however, is the dynamism that Francois offers, which could make a reunion for the two in Southern California make all the sense in the world.
San Diego’s scoring was in part tied to its limit in chance creation, and maybe the lack of a gamebreaker on the ball and off the dribble. SD Loyal’s 98 Chances Created from Open Play were the fifth-fewest in the Championship in 2020, and resulted in only eight assists. The side held the same rank in dribbles completed with 114 as it completed only 45.2 percent of its attempted dribbles. The ability on the ball and to stretch defenses that Francois brings could be a great fit for Landon Donovan’s squad.
The gap in the Group C standings to El Paso Locomotive FC and New Mexico United might not have reflected it, but it did feel as though Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC made progress under former Head Coach Alan Koch last campaign. The biggest challenge for the side? A lack of goals and creativity that saw the side finish tied for the league-lead with seven draws in the regular season and an attack that finished in the bottom quarter of the league in goals and assisted goals and the bottom third in Chances Created from Open Play.
Francois could help boost all of those numbers and alongside fellow new arrival Jose Francisco Torres make a serious impact to return the Switchbacks to playoff contention. He’d certainly have an ally in new Colorado Springs Head Coach Brendan Burke, whose 2018 Philadelphia Union II side led the Championship with 859 attempted dribbles and sat ninth in goals (56). We’ve seen what players like Santi Moar did under Burke’s stewardship. Francois could provide a similar impact for the Switchbacks.