Monday, May 22, 2017

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

Monday, May 8, 2017

Lucky Strikers

There's scoring goals, and then there's scoring the goals that matter most. Today, we tackle a few categories that specifically honor big strikes. As always, the tallies include all European topflights, select second flights (England, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal), domestic cups and continental cup action. And as always, players still active in the Old World sport an asterisk.

MATCH/TIE WINNERS

He's endured a rather lost season, but that didn't keep Aron Jóhannsson from rising to the top of this category before an injury cost him a starting role at Bremen. Combined with his skill at bagging openers (see below), he's got quite the knack for putting his team in the lead. Bobby Wood has quickly climbed into the top 15, and could soar a lot higher if he could simply join a team that wins more. And FYI: Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, Maurice Edu and Mix Diskerud are the only four Americans who've fired the decisive goal in a UEFA tourney tie.

19 Aron Jóhannsson*
17 Earnie Stewart
14 Clint Dempsey
14 Andrew Wooten*
12 Brian McBride
11 Alejandro Bedoya
11 Jermaine Jones
9 Jozy Altidore
9 Thomas Dooley
8 Roy Wegerle
8 Oguchi Onyewu
7 Carlos Bocanegra
7 Terrence Boyd*
7 Maurice Edu
7 Joe-Max Moore
7 Claudio Reyna
7 Bobby Wood*
7 Eric Wynalda



FIRST GOALS

It's pretty amazing that nearly half of Dempsey's European goals broke the ice. Jóhannsson and Terrence Boyd have a similar proclivity for openers, but could really use his line-up regularity.

33 Clint Dempsey
29 Aron Jóhannsson*
28 Earnie Stewart
24 Brian McBride
22 Jozy Altidore
17 Terrence Boyd*
17 Joe-Max Moore
16 Charles Kazlauskas* 
15 Alejandro Bedoya
15 Sacha Kljestan
14 Thomas Dooley
13 Roy Wegerle
12 Eddie Lewis
11 Bobby Wood*
10 Conor Casey
10 Andrew Wooten*



LATE RESULT-CHANGING GOALS

Fabian Johnson certainly tends to save his goals for the rescue jobs. Just about a quarter of his tallies have either turned a draw into a win or a loss into a draw during the final 15 minutes of a game or in extra time. The only person on this list with a better late hero rate from his European strikes is Gregg Berhalter (6 of 20).

10 Clint Dempsey
8 Earnie Stewart
7 Roy Wegerle
6 Fabian Johnson*
5 Gregg Berhalter
5 Alejandro Bedoya
5 Terrence Boyd*
4 Carlos Bocanegra
4 Charlie Davies
4 Mikkel Diskerud*
4 Andrew Wooten*
3 DaMarcus Beasley
3 Aron Jóhannsson*
3 Eddie Lewis
3 Oguchi Onyewu
3 Eric Wynalda


--

Tomorrow, we'll give the defenders some statistical love.




- Greg Seltzer