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Don’t Sweat the Technique

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Bars of praise for the fullback with the boom-bap.

MLS: New York City FC at Columbus Crew SC Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

They wanna know how many times I ripped and wrecked
But the search is never found of the pieces yet
Scientists try to solve the context
Philosophers are wondering what's next
Pieces took the last to observe them
They couldn't absorb them
They didn't deserve them
My ideas are only for the audience
Ears, for my opponents, it might take years
Pencil, pens, and swords Letters put together from a key to cause
I'm also a sculpture form with structure
Because of my culture I'm equipped to construct a
Technical style that'll be full of technology
Complete sights of new heights after I get deep
You don't have to speak just seek and peep the technique
Don't Ben Sweat the technique.

We don’t know if Long Island-born, Five Boroughs-raised William Michael Griffin, Jr. — a.k.a. Kid Wizard God MC Rakim Allah — is much of a soccer fan. The man has other things to do, like move the crowd. But if he perchance was tuned into the YES Network on Saturday evening to witness Ben Sweat’s first turn in NYCFC’s famous Etihad shirt, he would have noted the laudable technique.

After all, Rakim is all about flow. Few have as much authoritative right to speak on such things.

Indeed, last weekend at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Sweat worked his way into a flow that changed the course of the game; and ironically enough, it was the hometown Crew that ended up doing the bulk of the sweating as a result.

Follow the leader!

One hour before Saturday’s kickoff, you were not alone when you scratched your head at Patrick Vieira’s lineup card. Buried under the dueling thousand-ton narratives about a sick David Villa or Andrea Pirlo’s increasingly questionable role within Vieira’s meticulously engineered concentric orbit of moving parts at New York City FC was the curious case of three first-time MLS starters: Yangel Herrera, Ugo Okoli, and the 25-year old Florida native facing the team that chose him in the 2014 SuperDraft, only to farm him out to the lower leagues and cut him loose a year later.

Yes, when Vieira trotted out a squad lacking two World Cup winners or even a tested stalwart like RJ Allen to take on a resurgent Crew squad undefeated at home in 2017, we were right to question the logic, weren’t we? Right on cue, it took Sweat a while to work his way into the flow of the game— with Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain to worry about, that wasn’t unsurprising as much as appropriate.

But like so many legends of the Five Boroughs’ many blacktops — and streaky, peaks-and-valleys talents like JR Smith who have graced our city with their presence — Ben Sweat crafted a definitive no-no-no-no-YES! moment.

His assist on Yangel Herrera’s 64th minute headed goal was equal parts boom and bap, complete with its own unintentional mic drop (note in the highlight video that the Columbus play-by-play man editorializes that crossing is “not his strong suit... but it doesn’t matter!!!”).

Sweat had already gone full New Yorker when he hacked down Ethan Finlay just two minutes from the opening whistle. It earned the NYCFC man a yellow, but the message it sent to Finlay was far more profound: This is my house now. You’re just subletting. Also, give me your sandwich.

And wouldn’t ya know it, who was it that got totally outfoxed on the ball as Sweat dragged it forward into the danger area to create Herrera’s headbanging equalizer? Finlay. He bit hard on a left-footed move toward the byline, only to find himself utterly caught out as Sweat, full of intent, stopped and popped the ball onto his right foot, cut back, and looped it in for paydirt.

Talk about moving the crowd! That was a clowning of And-1 Mixtape quality. That was a lobbed diss-track.

Whatever you thought about Ben Sweat before, he ain’t no joke.

When the player was on trial with NYCFC in January, we asked Pat Murphy of SB Nation’s Massive Report to give us a rundown on the guy, whom we knew precious little about at the time. Here’s what Pat told us:

“He was with the Crew in 2014 and then was waived in preseason the following year. He played in an Open Cup game for sure, and maybe an exhibition. He also went on loan to Dayton for periods. Very attacking fullback type of player. Super nice guy, too. Was disappointed he was gone.”

He never had a real chance to feature for the Crew— consider the funk that he dropped on them Saturday a Grammy-quality remix of what that rookie year that could have been.

Indeed, when a rejiggered NYCFC squad needed him most, Ben Sweat stared his former team in the face — the one that didn’t even care to keep him — and let the rhythm hit ‘em.

When Sweat’s signing was announced in February, Patrick Vieira called him a fighter. At the time, we had to take the gaffer at his word without really knowing what he meant. What he anticipated. But we have a theory as to how and why Vieira came to this a conclusion based on such a limited sample size: we picture Ben Sweat walking off the training pitch, spitting his enemies’ blood back out of his mouth only to have it diffuse into a gas of rose petals, and effortlessly whispering five tantalizing words right into his manager’s immaculate ears:

“You know I got soul.”