Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Preseason unit rankings: midfielders

Part three of four of my preseason unit rankings. The midfield units were difficult to sort through. From about 4-9 or so, the teams were very evenly matched and you can't go wrong interchanging the units there. But the dropoff is severe towards the bottom.

1. Houston. Dwayne De Rosario leads quite a deep squad, which Dynamo will need for its various tournaments it will play this year. Ricardo Clark needs to stop kicking fallen players, though. Brian Mullan is solid on the right while Stuart Holden is very promising. May have to deal away a mid or two to get some help up front, though.

2. Colorado. Without Christian Gomez, the team had a pretty deep midfield. With the former MVP, they've got one of the best overall in the league. Gomez gives Colorado the centerpiece the Rapids have lacked for years. Pablo Mastroeni is still imposing presence while Terry Cooke has a great soccer mind.

3. Chivas USA. No Gomez or De Rosario but plenty of depth. Sacha Kljestan could take next step toward stardom this year if he can maintain his MVP-esque play from July to October of last year. Raphael Wicky brings wealth of international experience.

4. DC United. Marcelo Gallardo replaces his countryman but is it an upgrade? It seems so, but how quickly can Gallardo adapt to MLS? The supporting cast is strong with Clyde Simms, Fred and Ben Olsen providing support on both sides of the ball.

5. Los Angeles. David Beckham's credentials speak for themselves and he is a giant asset no matter where he plays. There are questions about the depth in the middle of the park but the makings are there for a stable and above-average midfield.

6. New England. Shalrie Joseph one of most talented players in MLS while Steve Ralston ages like fine wine. The addition of Mauricio Castro will help out the left side of the Revs' midfield.

7. Chicago. Cuauhtemoc Blanco is listed as a forward but he's essentially a midfielder. His ability is unquestionable. Beyond that, though, the dropoff is severe. Justin Mapp is a fine player but his health hampered him all of 2007.

8. FC Dallas. Juan Toja is a solid player with great upside. Arturo Alvarez had a lot of success a year ago but needs to prove that was no fluke. Pablo Ricchetti, Dax McCarty and Marcelo Saragosa offer depth. Andre Rocha is an intriguing addition.

9. Kansas City. Nothing flashy but the Wizards have decent depth and solid players in the midfield. Carlos Marinelli, though, is a very talented player.

10. Colubmus. Guillermo Barros Schelotto is quality but there is not much to get excited about elsewhere. Eddie Gaven is a decent player but rather inconsistent. Not a lot of scoring options here.

11. Real Salt Lake. Javier Morales is promising and will be good to have from the start of the season. Kyle Beckerman is very solid while Nathan Sturgis has good upside, but RSL has seemingly a lot of role players in the midfield.

12. New York. The potential for ugliness is there. Injury-prone Claudio Reyna is getting slower by the minute. Dane Richards is an asset but there aren't too many of those around in New York.

13. Toronto. Carl Robinson and Maurice Edu are a solid duo but who else will step up?

14. San Jose. The depth here is terrible. San Jose focused on defense and goalkeeping and building from the back up, which given recent expansion teams' failures in that area was smart. But the 'Quakes have a dearth of talent in the midfield.


Anonymous said...

As for the Galaxy Midfield
the centre is the most crowded part...

right: 2 Klein (Becks)

centre: Becks, Tudela, Harmse, Gray, Vagenas and maybe that Alvaro guy currently in training...

left: 0 unless you count Randolph/Martino


Landis said...

Ronnie O'Brien at TFC isn't a top player???

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge Galaxy fan but I think you're crazy to rate us higher then 8-9th. What has our midfield accomplished the last several years? Nothing. We've not upgraded it at all this offseason and we're still woefully short of options on the outside of midfield.

I think you just felt bad about justifiably rating us last in defense and goal and inflated this ranking.

L.B. said...

I knew that the bias issue would come up so I wrote these all on the weekend so it wouldn't affect me. I just make a few minor changes before plugging them in.

just another one of you said...

LB, any chance you can list who you think the best Offensive midfields are and which are best at Defense. A top 5 should suffice.

The Hammer said...

Actually, I like LA's midfield, and if we had ANY left midfielders, we'd definitely be pushing the top spots.

Beckham and Donovan impact this team very heavily. Klein was solid last year. Harmse, Gray, and Tudela all stepped up when required. They're all solid MLS players who could challenge for a starting spot. So that's 6 above average MLS midfielders.

Left side is a problem, but word around the fire camp is that Mike Randolph NEEDS to be a left mid. That helps, but we're still weak there. #5 seems fair to me. Beckahm and Donovan's talent are too big to ignore.

PS. Will somebody please clarify what's Pete's contract situation? Wasn't he out of a contract at the end of last season?

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

Let me stand up for Luis: His rankings of Chivas USA's midfield, defense and goalkeeping are accurate, in my book. Chivas USA is a legitimate MLS Cup contender as it currently stands. Of course, that would change dramatically if Guzan leaves in mid-season for Europe (which is why I don't understand Chivas USA not getting a legitimate backup to date). The only thing the Galaxy is contending for is a mid-season implosion.

brucio said...

if ronnie o'b is healthy he is the best right midfielder in the league

but carl robinson? good? did we watch the same guy play last season? talk about over paid. hell, i thought andy welsh might have been better than robinson

Gene said...

Luis, if tonight's game is any indication, you may need to serious revise your ranking. I was at the Earthquakes' Sat. tie against Houston. The Quakes might still be learning each other's names, but they were nowhere near the poor form the Galaxy is showing tonight. If they continue to play Beckham somewhere other than the central midfield position, they'll have a very long year.

Dave Martinez said...

You really depress me with the reality of the Red Bulls midfield. But add Vandenbergh to the mix, and keep in mind we will be playing a 3-5-2ish formation.

Our three backs and our two forwars will be solid. The midfield will include two good wingers in DVB and Dane, as well as Stammler Reyna and Kovalenko in (gulp) CAM and CDM positions.

We will be ok. Our depth stinks. Quite a fall off to Ubiparapovic.

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