Monday, May 22, 2017

US U-20 v Ecuador Player Ratings

It looks like I'll be doing these here, at least through the group phase.

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Jonathan Klinsmann (2) - Woof. Were it not for a sparkling save to temporarily keep things tied in the 57th minute, this mark would scrape the gutter. As is, he was spared giving up a bizarre penalty (and seeing red?) by the first Ecuador goal and foolishly toyed around to self-inflict their third. He owes his teammates a nice dinner for covering up his nightmare outing.

Aaron Herrera (4) - The surprise right back starter (to me, at least) was openly lost in the positional ether for the first 20-25 minutes, but pulled himself together to do some decent work on both sides of the ball until late, when he began to struggle again. He could have had a nice assist along the way, but he also could have been culpable on further leaks.

Tommy Redding (4)
- Sure, Herrera did him no early favors, but the Orlando City regular was utterly brûléed on Ecuador's first two goals. Redding only rallied a bit after that.

Erik Palmer-Brown (5) - It was certainly not the Sporting KC youngster finest hour; it was EPB's error that forced Klinsmann into the aforementioned fine save. However, the captain also came through with some emergency defense that helped kept the game close enough to salvage a point.

Danny Acosta (6) - Next to his back line mates, the RSL defender looked like an All-Star. Really though, it was a nice, solid, professional outing without any flash.

Tyler Adams (4.5) - The Red Bulls midfielder put in a kinda strange showing. He was sloppy with the ball and rarely slowed Ecuador advances. Adams also put a terrific chance over from close range. I expected more.

Gedion Zelalem (5) - Before leaving with an injury, the Arsenal vagabond underwhelmed. On one hand, he did offer some possession when it looked like the US might get shot from a cannon early. On the other hand, there was little else to trumpet about his efforts.

Eryk Williamson (4) - I honestly could not tell you what the role the U. of Maryland midfielder was supposed to be playing. He had a couple of moments here and there, but generally looked out of his element.

Brooks Lennon (6) - Until he put Sargeant's second on a platter with a divine cross, the Real Salt Lake winger wasted every good chance he had to create something. Then, he went back to being wasteful until stoppage time, when another one of his serves led to the equalizer. Fortunate for him, attackers can pull their grades out of the fire with just a couple of big plays. More consistency would be welcome, though.

Luca De La Torre (7.5) - The Fulham kid needed to see more of the ball, if not also a proper running mate to his left. I suppose he was meant to be that left-sider, but his gallop to set up the first US goal came right up the gut, as did the pinpoint stoppage time finish that was cooler than cucumber ice cream.

Josh Sargent (8.5) - The kid striker was terrific, easily the team's top performer. In addition to a pair of well-taken goals, Sargent provided some strong hold-up play and ran Ecudaor's defenders from sideline to sideline.

Coach Tab Ramos (4.5) - This is a tricky grade, with several factors. One that extends beyond a single game is squad selection. As is often the case with Ramos, I have some major bones to pick in that area (for example: where is Marco Farfan, dude??? I mean, really!!). Then, you narrow down ot the line-up, which openly had flaws. Then again, it also had young gun Sargent, so the mark comes back up a fair bit. And the coach also pushed the right buttons to guide the team back into the game. All in all, he can do a lot better, and it's not the first time somebody's noted that.

Subs:
Derrick Jones (7) - Yeah, he could clean up a bit on the ball; a couple of his turnovers were bothersome. That said, Jones single-handedly changed the game simply by entering it. His presence visibly spooked Ecuador's attack for a good half-hour after he came on. He also sparked the first two US goal plays. Why he didn't start the game is beyond me.

Lagos Kunga (-) - Though he played 18 minutes, Kunga made no discernible impact.

Sebastian Saucedo (6) - Bofo (yet another RSL player) lpayed less than 10 minutes, but got involved trying to invent something right away.











- Greg Seltzer

The Cardiac Kids

Suffice it to say that this highlight reel does not cover all the heart-stopping excitement the Baby Nats put early risers through in rallying twice for a 3-3 draw in their Under-20 World Cup opener against Ecuador.






- Greg Seltzer

Your US U-20 Line-Up v. Ecuador

For those of you who will brave the wee hours for the US Under-20 national team's World Cup opener against what looks to be their toughest group foe...











- Greg Seltzer

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Invasion Of Primacy

Folks, there were just too many great choices among all the transfers in from abroad during the recently closed primary/winter window, that I could not help myself. Instead of two XI's, I made three (even if the third is in a kooky formation). With many of these position, it was incredibly difficult to differentiate between the first and second (and sometimes even the third) choices. All of the midfield spots were hell to call, and on another day I might have had them shuffled around.

I've judged these guys based on how they've performed so far this season, but you'll notice one player who has yet to appear. However, he was plucked during the window in question and I've gone ahead to give him the benefit of doubt on what he will do when he arrives.

Let's roll them out, starting with the "bronze medal" group:





An on to the silver:





And, finally, the gold standard crew:





Tomorrow, we go top 5'er, counting down the clubs I say killed the greatest transfer window in MLS history the most.




- Greg Seltzer

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Best. Window. Ever.

For weeks now, I've been telling anyone who will listen that the recent primary (or winter) transfer window was the best damn transfer window in MLS history by light years. The clubs did a ton of great business to give the league easily its best ever concentrated infusion of talent. One could make teams upon teams of ace XI's from all the standouts new to the scene this year, and still have some left over to debate about how they should have been mentioned - so I did.

Today, I'll start with a rookie XI and then offer up an All-Star team made up solely of players who moved to new teams within the league, via either a trade or one of the re-entry drafts. Tomorrow, the real fun starts when I show how much of a bitch it will be pick a Newcomer of the Year by posting a first and a second team of players that have come into MLS from a foreign league. On Friday, I'll name the clubs that are my top 5 Transfer Window Winners.

First up, the rookies. And so you know, I'm not sticking to the league's Rookie of the Year award requirements. If they've not played top flight ball, they count here. I see no need to exclude guys enjoying their debut campaign in MLS because they were hot stuff in the USL or NASL - this is a whole different world, folks.




And now those who made switches within the league (who really only count as newcomers to their respective teams, but still deserve a little shine)...







- Greg Seltzer

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Last Line

Do forgive my tardiness with this post, the extensive research lasted until it was time for last night's MLS game. Aaand then I dozed off about two minutes before Toronto FC started their rally. In any event, we now turn to the defenders that have racked up some pretty big numbers across the Atlantic.

Unless otherwise stated, these lists all also cover top division play, select second flights (England, Italy, Germany, France, Netherlands, Portugal), domestic cups that offer a ticket to Europe for the victors and all UEFA tournaments.

GOALS

Defenders don't just prevent goals, they also often act as big restart targets that score them. And some of these guys really spread their offense around. Thomas Dooley scored Bundesliga goals for four different teams, Oguchi Onyewu struck for five different teams in seven different competitions and Carlos Bocanegra hit the back of the net for four clubs in six different competitions.

37 Thomas Dooley
25 Oguchi Onyewu    
17 Gregg Berhalter    
17 Carlos Bocanegra    
15 Charles Kazlauskas
12 Clarence Goodson    
10 Jay DeMerit    
9 John Anthony Brooks*
8 Steve Cherundolo
7 David Regis
6 Rhett Bernstein
6 Tony Sanneh


WINGBACK ASSISTS

Obviously, most defender goals go to the center backs. However, the helpers are typically the domain of the wide backs, and this is your American expat top 10. Just over 1/3 of Fabian Johnson's assists have come while he was on the back line, with half of those happening while he was with Hoffenheim. It seems unlikely at this juncture that he'll ever get enough time in defense to take this record, which makes Timothy Chandler and Eric Lichaj the main threats... at least until DeAndre Yedlin passes them all (one would hope).

22 Steve Cherundolo
19 Charles Kazlauskas
16 Fabian Johnson*
15 Timothy Chandler*
12 Eric Lichaj*
12 Michael Parkhurst
10 Hunter Freeman
7 DeAndre Yedlin*
6 Tim Ream*
6 Frank Simek
6 Jonathan Spector



SHUTOUT PARTICIPATIONS

I've listed the top 25 here, with Gooch unsurprisingly taking the top spot despite playing fewer games than three of the guys listed below him. Of course, he usually played with teams at or near the top of their respective leagues. Whether he will eventually be able to say the same or not, it seems likely John Anthony Brooks will one day top this chart.

I also want to give it up to John O'Brien, who piled up 25 shutouts participations in less than 50 games as a defender, and A.J. Soares, who managed his 17 clean sheet days in just 44 games overseas. It's a real shame that injuries shortened their careers so.

86 Oguchi Onyewu
81 Steve Cherundolo
77 Carlos Bocanegra
73 Gregg Berhalter
54 Jay DeMerit
54 Thomas Dooley
54 Eric Lichaj*
53 Jonathan Spector
45 John Anthony Brooks*
43 Geoff Cameron*
42 Charles Kazlauskas*
34 Tim Ream*
34 David Regis    
31 Danny Califf
30 Michael Parkhurst    
29 Clarence Goodson
28 Leo Krupnik    
30 Timothy Chandler*
30 Zak Whitbread
26 Clarence Goodson
25 John O'Brien   
17 Greg Vanney    
15 Robbie Russell
15 A.J. Soares   
14 Ramiro Corrales
14 Cory Gibbs
14 DeAndre Yedlin*



LONGEST SHUTOUT STREAKS

It's simple: every consecutive minute you spend in defense without your opponent scoring counts. Unlike the other lists, this one only covers league play. It would have been difficult and exhaustive to include everything as info gets scarce for some of the lower leagues and older players when it comes to domestic cups, so I kept the field level for everyone. I was going to do the top 25 here also, but eventually decided to list everyone with a stingy streak of at least 325 minutes. A handful of other guys fell just short of that cut-off.

Michael Parkhurst remains the king here, and for those who are mathematically challenged, it would take more than seven straight regular season games worth of clean sheets plus another half-hour to pass him. Onyewu has six of the streaks below, including two of the top three and five of the best 11. He's also one of only two guys, along with Danny Califf, to stretch one of these streaks across transfers to second team.

Worth noting: Yedlin will kick off next season with a 189-minute streak going.

659 Michael Parkhurst (FC Nordsjælland, 2012)647 Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liège/FC Twente, 2009-11)637 Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liège, 2005)
440 Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest, 2016)
440 Charles Kazlauskas (Helmond Sport, 2010)
429 Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes, 2008)
426 Jay DeMerit (Watford, 2007)
422 John O'Brien (Ajax, 2002)
416 Tim Ream (Bolton, 2014)
414 Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liège, 2008)
406 Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liège, 2009)
398 John Anthony Brooks (Hertha Berlin, 2015-16)
374 Zak Whitbread (Derby County, 2014)
373 Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96, 2006)
373 Jay DeMerit (Watford, 2007)
371 Danny Califf (Aalborg BK, 2008)
370 Thomas Dooley (Kaiserslautern, 1990)
369 Alexi Lalas (Padova, 1995)
365 Danny Califf (Aalborg BK/FC Midtjylland, 2008)
365 A.J. Soares (Viking, 2015-16)
363 Greg Vanney (Bastia, 2003)
360 Oguchi Onyewu (Standard Liège, 2004)
359 Jonathan Spector (Birmingham, 2015)
352 Clarence Goodson (Brøndby, 2011)
352 Babajide Ogunbiyi (Viborg, 2014-15)
351 A.J. Soares (Viking, 2015)
346 Jonathan Spector (Birmingham, 2015)
339 Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting CP, 2011)
336 Geoff Cameron (Stoke City, 2015)
330 Jay DeMerit (Watford, 2006)
328 Gregg Berhalter (1860 Munich, 2008)
327 Cory Gibbs (Feyenoord 2005)
325 Gregg Berhalter (Energie Cottbus, 2006)





- Greg Seltzer