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.


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


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


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*


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

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