Archive for March, 2010

MLS Jumble: Picking Up Donuts & A ROY Award

Who's sliding home with the 2010 award?

…and we’re back, next question:

Who’s your MLS Rookie of the Year? (Look I’m no egomaniac, but not one of these guys choose TSG, what gives?!)

Joe, Miami Monsters: Strong draft class for 2010.  I am going with two guys here: Ike Opara wins it by strengthening the San Jose defense or Corben Bone, Chicago Fire, by doing what he does best: create and set-up goals.

Everybody just loves Ike Opara....(getting exposed here by RSL)

Chris, Dynamo Fan:   Rookie of the Year is tough to call in MLS because of the varied player backgrounds (college, youth, international) but I’m seeing some great young talent around the league. Joel Lindpere from the Red Bulls had a confident strike in his first match, Philly has a few very promising youngsters in Jack McInerney, Danny Mwanga, and Roger Torres. Ike Opara is starting at centerback as a rookie for San Jose, and Andy Najar from DC United looks like he could have some real potential.

Connor Walsh, Ninety-Plus:  Ike Opara, San Jose Earthquakes.  San Jose’s backline was was leakier than a wicker tub last season, and US U-20 stand out Opara is mean enough to overcome the green in his first season.

Charles, MetroStars: Ike Opara for MLS Rookie of the Year. Also on my list for consideration were Corben Bone, Dilly Duka, Andrew Wiedeman, Jack McInerney, & Danny Mwanga. Of these six, I figure that Opara will have the most first-team opportunities, as the Quakes desperately need to reduce their goals against. I watched Opara, Duka, and McInerney play in a youth World Cup. I’ve seen Wiedeman play several matches in Berkeley – poaching goals predator-style.

MLS Jumble: MLS Most Improved?

Simply, who’s your most improved player?

Brian Ching? Landon Donovan? Maybe I'm grumpy, but what about some younger guys....

Chris, Dynamo fan: Not that he’s a player you’d think of as needing improvement, but I’m really intrigued to see how Landon Donovan’s Premier League success affects his MLS play. I think after his stint at Everton he’s seeing the game at a different speed, and if he can take that experience to the Galaxy he could be just unstoppable this season.

Charles, MetroStarsBrian Ching of Houston will likely be Most Improved Player. The reason I select him is simple. It is easier to mark the improvement of forwards than it is to measure the improvement of defensive-minded players. Last season, I believe that Ching had an injury that limited him to 19 games. He scored 8 goals last season. Before that, he had never scored less than 15. Ergo, return to form for Ching = award.

Joe, Miami Monsters: Sacha Kljestan. He wont make the WC squad which will push him to work harder than ever and become a solid player. I HOPE!

USMNT hopeful Cronin...

Connor, Ninety-Plus: Sam Cronin, Toronto FC.  I know I’m not alone in thinking that Cronin could be one for the future as far as the US Mens National Team goes.  With the departure of Amado Guevara, now Cronin will have his best chance to shine in midfield.

MLS Jumble: Cup Winners and Surprises

2010: Who's Hoisting?

(Your MLS Jumble participants)

Let’s get cracking….

Okay guys, lobbing a softball here to start:

Who’s your 2010 MLS Cup favorite? Who’s your MLS sleeper team?

Chris, Dynamo Fan: My MLS Cup pick this season is Seattle. They return all their critical pieces, have a fantastic home field advantage, and are very well coached. If Ljungberg can stay healthy and Steve Zakuani continues to mature as a player I think they’re the team to beat.

My dark horse is the Dynamo, Dom Kinnear is the best coach in the league and I think Houston could contend again this year, all depends if Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis, and others can fill the void left by Holden and Clark and if they can find/add another scoring threat to complement Brian Ching.

Everyone's favorite?

Charles, MetroStars: My pick for MLS Cup are the Seattle Sounders. Kasey Keller, Freddy Ljungberg and a cast of resolute role-players seem ready to add to their shiny new US Open Cup. They have a fine coach in Sigi Schmid. When all in Qwest Field sing the folk song “Seattle” your hair will stand on end. Welcome MLS challengers…welcome to Seattle.

Philadelphia for a sleeper splash. No one knows them…it worked for Chicago in 1998.

Connor, Ninety-Plus: MLS Cup Favorite…. Seattle Sounders FC.  The Sounders not only made themselves stronger by signing Blaise N’Kufo, but retained the services of Freddy Montero,  Jhon Hurtado, Kasey Keller, and Fred Ljungberg.  Coupled with their ferocious home crowd, I expect the Sounders to add to their trophy case in November.

MLS Sleeper Team: New York Red Bulls.  Yes, the worst team in the league last season could very well come out and be a contender in the East.  They picked up a lot of key role players to support Juan Pablo Angel, and their undefeated preseason and convincing win over Brazilian club Santos is hard to ignore.

Joe, Miami Monsters: Columbus Crew- 2 Shield Trophies in a row, leading scorer, strong overall team…whats not to like!!

Sleeper team: Can’t consider the Galaxy since they made the final so I will say the Revolution. Made every playoff since 2002 and if healthy they have some serious game .

Meet Our MLS Jumble Participants

I found this ol' thing just lying around the Internet...

In this corner, someone (me) who knows a pinky’s worth of MLS.

Around the Jumble Roundtable, well a whole nother story. Dare I say, experts. Thanks guys.

The topic this time: MLS 2010: Beyond the CBA.

• He’s a 6’0 writer (no real idea on his height) out of the University of Kentucky. He penned one of the first pieces on this publication not written by Brothers TSG, but writes over at his publication Ninety Plus. He’s a card-carrying member of the American Outlaws, a “proud founding fan of US Soccer Supporters Club, a FIFA certified soccer official–for whatever that’s worth–and a Kentucky Youth Soccer Coach. Meet Connor Walsh, take a seat Connor.

• Next up, a Masters student from Miami,FL.–take that Connor–who plays for a local side, the Miami Monsters. He lost his way in college playing baseball, but now he’s back to soccer, realizing it’s much more “exciting”…and he’s headed to South Africa to support the U.S, Joe Orfely.

• Did we say expertise? Try this one on for size. Houston man Chris Figat is a graphic designer by day and a Dynamo supporter by day, night and everything in between. Chris’s current claim to fame, keeping up with high schoolers in indoor soccer (I couldn’t possibly fathom doing that) after dabbing his foot in Division I of the HFA (Houston Football Association).

• We’ve got expertise; how about expertise and history? Bay Area-by-way-of-New York’s Charles Therrell still considers himself a faithful man of the “star-crossed MetroStars.” His counts Paul Caliguiri’s “Shot Heard Round the World” as the event that began fueling his USMNT support. Charles has also played for four amateur teams from 1985 to 1998. Well done Charles.

Charles is also an unabashed Andrew Wiedeman supporter and writes his own publications: Boots, Sticks & Controllers.

Long live, Charles...

—————

Thanks guys in advance for lending your keyboards and your thoughts.

Stu Holden, Blowing Up

Congrats to the USMNTer and former Dynamo man Stu Holden who announced today an endorsement deal with Nike and the LIVESTRONG brand.

Nice job Stu! Get back out there soon.

———

Holden: The next USMNT ambassador

Herculez Gomez: The 2010 Eddie Johnson?

Gomez got a cup of coffee with the USMNT in the 2007 Copa America

Gomez got a cup of coffee with the USMNT in the 2007 Copa America

Two reports this morning on Herculez Gomez who notched another goal over the weekend  in the defenseless, subjectively speaking, Mexican Primera, show that Bob Bradley appears to be taking at least a cursory note of the American striker playing down south.

According to a firsthand account on Goal.com Gomez says:

“With the national team, the opportunities are minimal,” he said. “I have to keep tearing it up here in order to be able to show myself over there.

According to a translation on No Short Corners:

“I have a small possibility of being called,” said Gomez.

Let me diverge here for a second and call on you Robbie Findley, yes you Brian Ching, you Conor Casey and yes even you Charlie Davies. 75 days…who’s going to step-up?

Give it a few more weeks and it will be time for the fifth installment of “With Davies In Repair, Who Strikes?”

—–

More on Gomez at TSG.

It’s Always In The Numbers

I’ve finally put my finger on why I wasn’t such a huge fan of Soccernomics. I had the wrong expectations of the book.

Number-crunchin'

Beyond the chapter that TSG reader Patrick pointed out on the Champ’s League Final where Edwin Van Der Saar plays a little game strategy with the Chelsea penalty kick-takers, I think one reason I wasn’t enamored is that I wanted more on the in-game play.

What metrics can we put on in-game play, like Billy Beane does with the Athletics, like Daryl Morey does with Houston Rockets, to determine if a player has played a good game or a poor game?

I’m not looking for tendencies, I’m looking for evaluations.

In terms of statistics, we’ve seen a few individual statistics start to creep into the broadcast of the game. The one that pops into mind is showing a player’s “pass completition” when they get subbed out.

I’m not sure how that lone statistic really gives the audience a read on just how that player contributed, or deducted for that matter, from his team’s play.

So in that vain, I’m going to take a shot at some individual statistics that may or may not give you a better idea of how player made an impact on the game:

Goalie:

Traditional: Saves

Saves is a tough one for goalie, a necessary one, but it doesn’t communicate the quality of those saves.

Additional:

Paries: A judgement call here–much like an error in baseball. A parry is a save where it is ruled that the goalie’s was unable to keep possession on the save because of the quality of the shot. Tim Howard would pretty much lead international competition in these.

Service Possession Maintained/Service Possession Lost: Not sure this one works. You tell me. How would we be able credit a player like Pepe Reina who’s service is a weapon. Let’s remove outlets to defenders from this one; so no defender pass completion in the stats.

When a goalie winds up and punts the ball, does his team maintain possession? I like this one also, because if you’re a goalie you are going to start punting it away from someone, like a Robbie Findley, who’s not going to win that reception.

I'm betting these defensive numbers would show that Simon Kjaer (right) is closing in on top defender status...

Defender:

Traditional: N/A

Additional:

Tackles Made/Tackles Failed: Make a tackle and earn possession or disrupt the play? +1. Miss a tackle that concedes an offensive chance? -1. That simple.

Attacks Defended/Attacks Conceded: This likely the best wingfull defensive statistic. A winger possesses the ball and initiates an attack. Initiating the attack is important because it’s putting pressure on the defense. If a defender concedes a shot on goal, a cross or a completed pass still in attack to another offender, then it is a Run Conceded. No dice, Run defended.

Offsides Called/Errant Runs/Errant Runs Scored: Love this one. It’s a team statistic, but much like a penalty in football, you can label the guilty party in this one.

First, the definitions. Offsides Called, again self-explanatory. Errant Runs? This is when an offender, like a Charlie Davies, get behind the defense, another offender finds them with the ball and the defender has to track back and make a play or the goalie does. If the player on the run scores, Errant Run Scored.

The box score for a match might look this might look like this:

OC: 9

ER: 3 (Bornstein (2), Spector)

ERS: 1 (Spector)

Now for an offensive one:

Passes Completed Not Under Duress: I’ve been trying for over 6 months to work this “frustration” into a column. One of my biggest frustrations in game play is when a defender who is not under any sort of duress, makes a simple square or just a check down to the goalie that is imprecise and puts the receiver under duress. I don’t understand how players can’t be more precise at the highest level of soccer. It irks me to no end when a team may create an advantage through quick, precise ball play and the simple first pass is off-the-mark and the chance is gone.

Now I have a rather lengthy definition to take care of it for me. Look out Carlos Bocanegra and you too Jonathan Bornstein, you’re under my microscope.

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