Saturday, June 24, 2017

Okay, this is driving me batty.

Every time I watch Chicago play, regardless of whichbroadcast team is on the call, I hear announcers repeatedly butcher Michael de Leeuw's surname. They all pronounce it "De Loo" when it is actually "De Lay-ow" (click the speaker tab in the translated box to hear the correct pronunciation).

Get it together, folks. All one needs to do is simply ask the guy.

- Greg Seltzer

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Arch Nemeses

Every team has (at least) one opposing player that they cannot stand to see, and every goal scorer has (at least) one club they absolutely love to face.


This count was simple: who has lit the lamp the most times against one unlucky opponent.

19 Landon Donovan v FCD (in 34 games)
15 Taylor Twellman v CHI (27g)
15 Landon Donovan v KC (28g)
15 Pat Noonan v RBNY (28g)
14 Landon Donovan v DC (18g)
13 Brian Ching v COL (21g)
13 Carlos Ruiz v COL (24g)
13 Landon Donovan v RSL (28g)
13 Taylor Twellman v RBNY (29g)
12 Ante Razov v RBNY (15g)
12 Robbie Keane v SEA (17g)
12 Jeff Cunningham v CHI (19g)
12 Landon Donovan v COL (30g)


Of course, due to inter-conference scheduling differences and shorter league tenures, some dudes don't have 20-30 games to pile up goals against their favorite foes. So I also made up a list with everyone who's chalked up a goals-per-game rate of at least 0.9 against one club (minimum five games played).

1.8 pg Thierry Henry v MTL (9 goals in 5 games)
1.5 Dom Dwyer* v MTL (9-6)
1.33 Bradley Wright-Phillips* v NYC (8-6)
1.29 Robbie Keane v TFC (7-5)
1.14 Roy Lassiter v CLB (8-7)
1.13 Cyle Larin* v NYC (9-8)
1 Juan Pablo Ángel v KC (9-9)
1 Sebastian Giovinco* v NYC (7-7)
1 David Villa* v DC (7-7)
1 Thierry Henry v COL (6-6)
1 Sebastian Giovinco* v OCSC (6-6)
1 Jozy Altidore* v OCSC (5-5)
1 David Villa* v CLB (5-5)
1 Ola Kamara* v NE (5-5)
1 Antony De Ávila v DC (5-5)
1 Jozy Altidore* v HOU (5-5)
0.92 Taylor Twellman v FCD (11-12)
0.9 Bradley Wright-Phillips* v TFC (9-10)

- Greg Seltzer

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Golden Boys

As promised, my preferences for the Gold Cup squad...

In goal: Brad Guzan, Bill Hamid, Sean Johnson

Yeah, Guzan will be about to become eligible for Atlanta, but it would be nice (and probably good for his initial club form) if he could start against Panama. The other two can fight over the remaining group starts, and Tim Howard can come in for the knockouts.

The back line stable: Matt Besler, Greg Garza, Matt Hedges, Eric Lichaj, Justin Morrow, Jonathan Spector, Graham Zusi

I'm still a bit miffed that Ike Opara is not available, but oh well. And  though I'm still not sure why we need to run Zusi as a right back, there's no better time to do it than this tournament's group phase.  We can go with a short staff for the group stage, and then bring Omar Gonzalez into the squad (replacing one of the green strikers) for the championship run. As with all the lines, I'd make sure everyone gets at least one start in the group games.

In central park: Alejandro Bedoya, Joe Corona, Dax McCarty, Darlington Nagbe, Kellyn Acosta, Cristian Roldan, Kelyn Rowe

I'd feel better if either Benny Feilhaber or Sacha Kljestan were around as a seasoned natural #10 option, but... oh well, part deux. The team will just need to play-make by committee until the knockouts (which is when we can bring Michael Bradley and let Joe Corona hustle off to Tijuana's preseason camp).

The attack squadron
: Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, Paul Arriola, Jordan Morris, Kenny Saief, C.J. Sapong

This was the toughest group to narrow down. In the end, I opted to leave Dwyer in KC for the time being. Agudelo gets the nod over him because a) he got the international experience edge, and more importantly b) he can also pull wing duty. When the knockouts arrive, I'd summon Clint Dempsey in for another one of these forwards.

And here's the line-up I'd likely use for the Panama opener:

- Greg Seltzer

Spot Checks

After sticking my usual summer breather in between the latest round of World Cup qualifiers and the Gold Cup, I am now back. Later, I will offer up my picks for that CONCACAF championship tourney roster and a preferred group phase starting line-up, but for now we go back to the ol' abacus. Instead of tallying up stats for Americans who play overseas, I focused on some MLS stuff and things.

Today, we'll kick off this latest round of stat lists by concentrating on the penalty kick. Who makes 'em the best, who stops 'em the best and which teams make the most of 'em.

PK Perfection

First, I compiled a list of the 13 players (with at least five tries) that never missed a spot kick in MLS play. This count covers all regular season and postseason attempts, including those in playoff shootouts. You can see that four of the five most deadly shooters here are still active (as designated by an asterisk) and able to build on their perfect PK records.

It's also worth noting that three guys (two of whom still work in MLS) came so very close to topping this chart: Lee Nguyen (who has been successful on 16 of 17 PK's), Pedro Morales (15-16) and Sebastian Le Toux (13-14).

11-11 Jeff Larentowicz*
11-11 Érick Torres*
10-10 Patrice Bernier*
10-10 Benny Feilhaber*
10-10 Jovan Kirovski
8-8 Michel
7-7 Camilo
6-6 Vicente Sánchez*
5-5 Roland Alberg*
5-5 Marco Etcheverry
5-5 Jason Kreis
5-5 Andrés Mendoza
5-5 Raul Díaz Arce

Glee Clubs

Next, we'll see which current MLS teams have gained the most joy from placing the ball on the dot. As above, all regular season, playoff and shootout tries have been tabulated to see which club has taken the best advantage of the penalty kicks they've stepped up to.

For obvious reasons, I did not include expansion sides Atlanta United (who've only had one, which was buried by Miguel Almiron) and Minnesota United (for whom Kevin Molino has bagged two of three this season)

92.6% Montreal (25 successful PK's out of 27)
88.9% New York City FC (16-18)
85.3% Philadelphia (29-34)
82.9% Portland (34-41)
82.9% Vancouver (34-41)
82.8% Colorado (77-93)
79.8% Real Salt Lake (71-89)
79.8% FC Dallas (67-84)
78.6% LA Galaxy (77-98)
77.8% New England (56-72)
77.3% Sporting KC (68-88)
76.9% New York Red Bulls (63-82)
76.6% San Jose (36-47)
76.4% D.C. United (68-89)
75.2% Chicago (64-85)
74.0 % Columbus (71-96)
72.1% Toronto FC (31-43)
71.4% Houston (40-56)
70.2% Seattle (33-47)
64.3% Orlando City (9-14)

The Buzz Kills

Finally, we had to show some love to the keepers who have been most likely to turn away spot kick efforts. Once again, we've limited the count to MLS regular season and playoff contests. I did make a volume cut-off; a guy has to have faced at least 10 penalties to make the list. You may notice that we are in a golden age of PK rejection artists; 10 of the top 15 here are still active in the league (as always, look for the asterisk).

37.5% Chris Seitz* (6 saves out of 16 PK's faced)
32.2% Nick Rimando* (19-59)
30.8% Jon Conway (4-13)
30.8% Kasey Keller (4-13)
30.0% Tim Howard* (3-10)
28.6% Zac MacMath* (4-14)
27.3% David Ousted* (6-22)
27.3% Tim Melia* (3-11)
26.7% Will Hesmer (4-15)
25.0% Jeff Attinella* (3-12)
23.8% Dan Kennedy (5-21)
23.1% Greg Sutton (3-13)
22.2% Sean Johnson* (6-27)
22.2% Joe Bendik* (4-18)
21.9% Luis Robles* (7-32)


Tomorrow, I shall return to rank the goal scorers that have been especially deadly against a particular foe (or particular foes, as the case may be).

- Greg Seltzer

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Your USMNT Line-Up v Mexico

I really did not expect to see quite so much turnover. And I'm not sure what formation this group will take up (3-6-1??). Oh, and I can't stand these new line-up reveal GIFs they are suddenly using. 

- Greg Seltzer

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Your USMNT LIne-Up v. Trindad & Tobago

This group will almost certainly fill out one of four different formations (4-3-3, empty bucket, 4-4-2 diamond & 4-2-3-1). You all know my preferences. See you all later with player ratings at MLSS.

- Greg Seltzer