Thursday, July 18, 2019

What's right is right.

First of all, bonus points for anyone who noticed my "The Detour" reference. Now to business. I wrote that the Clipboard ranks would expand now that the Gold Cup is in the rear view mirror. But that does not apply to every depth chart. For right back, I'd make it a three-man dogfight for now.

DeAndre Yedlin
Reggie Cannon
Nick Lima

After his largely excellent title game showing against Mexico, I was tempted to give the top spot to Cannon. And it's true that we have not seen Yedlin's best in a USMNT shirt for a long while. However, I'll need to see a little more for the kid to supplant the young vet. Perhaps the new boss can help the Newcastle (but for how long?) defender regain top form. Lima is a solid choice to round out the lead trio.

There are a few others that can have a say eventually (Rosenberry? Moore? Araujo? Perhaps even Herrera?), but we'll just keep that crowd on watch for the time being. 

- Greg Seltzer

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Long Game

I will get back on the Clipboard later today to tackle the right back position, but first let's get into the transfer scene surrounding Red Bulls defender Aaron Long. This technically rates as an Offside Flag because I can confirm that rumored suitor Southampton is in fact not after the reigning MLS Defender of the Year - but the true parts of the story are actually more interesting.

As noted over the weekend by FS1 commentator Brian Dunseth, Long has been the subject of multiple transfer offers out of the EPL. What he did not note was that a) both offers came from the same club trying twice and b) the Red Bulls are thus far (according to Long's agent) "not willing to even entertain a negotiation." This is in spite of the fact that c) the US international wants to make the move.

Long also has interest from elsewhere in Europe; I highly suspect at least some of it is coming from the Bundesliga, but as of yet have been unable to confirm that.

- Greg Seltzer

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

And so it begins again...

The Gold Cup (i.e. competitive matches) are beyond us for a few months, which makes it a fine time to crank up the ol' Clipboard. And as there is no proper tourney on the horizon, I'll be expanding the depth charts a bit. As usual, we'll start with the guys in goal...

Zack Steffen
Ethan Horvath
Sean Johnson

In the frame: Stefan Frei, Bill Hamid, Tyler Miller

There really should be no surprise with the first two. Yeah, Steffen had a couple of nervy moments early in the Gold Cup, but he's the real deal. Horvath, who's made great strides in the last year, has repeatedly shown he can raise his level to meet scary opponents. Johnson takes the third spot for now because he has some experience and distributes pretty well (a big plus in Gregg Berhalter's system).

I, for one, am not ready to just chuck Frei aside without a look. He has just been too good for too long to be ignored, regardless of his age. Hamid might still be the best pure shot-stopper in the bunch, so it seems silly he has yet to bust 450 field minutes for the Nats. Miller has quietly remained a decent depth choice.

- Greg Seltzer

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Cap Cultivaters

The Gold Cup has come and gone, so I'll be kicking off a new Clipboard tomorrow. First though, let's wade in some stat nerd biz. I got into a discussion about MLS academies and the qualities of their scouting process. Personally, I'd say to come up with the top shelf prospects on a consistent basis, clubs need to make sure they don't forget to give at least as much value to technical and mental attributes as they do to athletic skills.

To have a long career, guys need to be able to receive and pass, they need to be able to think the game quickly, to play quick touches, to be able to train for improvements, to persevere, to battle hard, to problem solve, to maintain confidence, to be creative, and so on. That's why you see some attackers shine early before petering out and why defenders tend to bloom later. The guys at the back get smarter and more well-drilled, which means the guys relied on produce offense need to come up with new methods or new ways to set up their favorite tricks after their tendencies become more studied.

For academies to churn out pro players is impressive, but the ones who bloom high level players are the ones to watch as MLS proceeds forward. Ya gotta create your own players to win consistently, even if the checkbook can strike like Thor. Which teams create the biggest depth of quality  youngsters (spoiler alert: Toronto FC, FC Dallas, Vancouver and the Red Bulls)? And which ones can grow the most guys that can have lasting impact at the international level (spoiler alert: not necessarily all of those clubs)? And while we're at it, which ones will start creeping up the list before long (spoiler alert: Sporting KC, Real Salt Lake, Seattle, Philadelphia, Atlanta and the LA Galaxy).

With that set-up, here is the list of MLS teams with products that have achieved senior caps. Yes, I know some guys below were not around for too long and that not all international teams are created equal, but one has to draw the line somewhere.

I have not included any players that entered the corresponding clubs' academy past the age of 20. There are some included that started in another youth set-up before reaching the MLS academy. The four guys wearing an asterisk have played in a World Cup.

FC Dallas - 158
(Eddie Johnson 63*, Ramiro Funes Mori 24, Kellyn Acosta 23, Moisés Hernández 15, Weston McKennie 14, Kenny Cooper 10, Reggie Cannon 6, Emerson Hyndman 2, Rogelio Funes Mori 1)

Toronto FC - 128
(Doneil Henry 28, Jonathan Osorio 27, Russell Teibert 25, Ashtone Morgan 15, Mark-Anthony Kaye 10, Michael Petrasso 9, Raheem Edwards 4, Marcus Godinho 4, Jay Chapman 2, Jordan Hamilton 2, Ricardo Ferreira 1, Quillan Roberts 1)

Seattle - 92
(DeAndre Yedlin 59*, Jordan Morris 33)

New York Red Bulls - 90
(Juan Agudelo 28, Matt Miazga 17, Derrick Etienne Jr. 16, Tyler Adams 10, Andrew-Jean Baptiste 10, Timothy Weah 8, Matthew Olosunde 1)

Vancouver - 83
(Russell Teibert 25, Alphonso Davies 14, Dever Orgill 13, Randy Edwini-Bonsu 10, Kyle Porter 9, Marco Bustos 6, Sam Adekugbe 3, Kianz Froese 2, Ben McKendry 1)

DC United - 59
(Andy Najar 36*, Michael Seaton 14, Bill Hamid 6, Iyassu Bekele 2, Romain Gall 1)

Montreal - 52
(Karl Ouimette 18, Maxime Tissot 13, Anthony Jackson-Hamel 9, Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé 5, Wandrille Lefèvre 3, Ballou Tabla 2, Maxime Crepeau 2)

LA Galaxy - 51
(Gyasi Zardes 51)

Chicago - 51
(Jonathan Spector 36, Chris Rolfe 10, Djordje Mihailovic 5)

Real Salt Lake - 36
(Carlos Salcedo 32*, Corey Baird 3, Romain Gall 1)

Columbus - 19
(Wil Trapp 19)

Philadelphia - 15
(Zack Steffen 15)

New England - 12
(Zachary Herivaux 12)

Portland - 12
(Emery Welshman 12)

San Jose - 7
(Nick Lima 7)

Sporting KC - 2
(Erik Palmer-Brown 2)

- Greg Seltzer

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Your USMNT Line-Up v Mexico

The ladies had their title turn for Sunday. Now it's the USMNT's shot at the prize, and they'll take it against the arch rival El Tri. Gregg Berhalter has kept the same side from their semifinal win, which I suppose can't draw too many complaints (though I would have gone back to Boyd for this match-up). It has been 12 years since Benny Feilhaber's magical winner gave the team its only Gold Cup final win over Mexico to date.

Can the boys finally make it two? Hmm, I don't know. The visitors (their line-up for the championship match as about as you'd expect) are still the favorites and we'll need to come up with a top effort. Bradley and McKennie must win the midfield takeaway/giveaway battle, probably by a decent margin. No big mistakes at the back and the wingers will need to help the fullbacks quite a bit. And of course, Pulisic and Altidore need to find good spaces to operate and pass well in the final third. It's all rather straightforward at this point in the tourney. The team simply has to be better in obvious ways to win this one.

I'll catch you on the other side with US player ratings over at MLSS.

- Greg Seltzer

Play It Again, Fam

The USWNT are repeat World Cup champs for the first time, winning their fourth title in total with a confident 2-0 victory over the Netherlands. Hats off to the ladies, who got second half goals from Megan Rapinoe and (my favorite player of the tournament) Rose Lavelle. I also must give it up for the Dutch, who've made huge leaps in recent years.

- Greg Seltzer