Earning a Place

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by beineke, Sep 25, 2003.

  1. beineke

    beineke New Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Throughout the early years of MLS, one of the biggest problems has been the lack of depth. As a result, once a guy establishes himself as a starter, he usually doesn't have to work too hard to keep his job.

    In the 2003 season, we've finally seen some signs that this is changing. Here are some players who could be starters, but aren't.

    The Bench 11
    GK - Joe Cannon, Colorado

    In 2002, he beat out Tim Howard for MLS keeper of the year. In 2003, he can't shake Scott Pepper, uh, Garlick.

    LB - Bobby Convey, DC

    National team regular, Premiership signee, and DC can't even squeeze him in at left back.

    CB - Eddie Robinson, San Jose

    Frank Yallop seems to think that Robinson has a national team future (and he's already won a call-up). But when Agoos and Dayak are healthy, they're the starters.

    CB - Alexi Lalas, LA

    Won universal praise as the anchor of the 2002 league champs; this season, he simply hasn't beaten out Bo ... maybe soon.

    RB - Ryan Suarez, LA

    After several call-ups, he finally earned a cap against Wales. It hasn't helped him break through on the Galaxy back line.

    LM - Freddy Garcia, Crew

    Guatemala's second-best player can't keep up with Brian West ... then again, few people can.

    CM - Leo Cullen, New England

    Another guy who has a national team cap in 2003 but can't win a place in his club team's line-up.

    AM - Andy Williams, Fire

    Earlier this year, he led Jamaica to a win against Nigeria ... but Chicago isn't too keen on him.

    RM - Pat Noonan

    In spite of some impressive outings, he's unlikely to be a starter once Joe-Max gets back.

    F - Manny Lagos, San Jose

    It's easy to forget how close this guy came to the 2002 World Cup squad. In 2001, he was terrific in MLS; in 2003, his minutes are mostly the result of injuries ... and he's been forced to play out of position at forward.

    F - Jeff Cunningham, Crew

    Healthy or not, this guy's not even close to the starting line-up ... not even close.

    Sub - Joselito Vaca, Dallas

    In Collin Clarke's new set-up, he seems to be the odd man out. Despite all of their struggles and injuries, it's impressive that Dallas has a player like him in reserve.
  2. 352gialloblu

    352gialloblu New Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    It's time to make an 11th team, then... ; )

    Well, ignoring the fact that a lot of these players, while quality, haven't played all that well this year (Williams, Vaca) or maybe just don't fit into the team chemistry (Like Rivaldo at Milan).

    It's great that we have depth to cover for injuries and give managers an option to get the mix right, or quality options off the bench. Yay contraction! But the addition of a few more teams would help some of the younger guys (and some of the guys on your list) get real playing time and experience. It's an exciting time for MLS.
  3. beineke

    beineke New Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    For the sake of balance, it's worth pointing out that MLS doesn't have depth everywhere. Here's the Hard to Pull XI:

    GK Tony Meola, KC

    Week in, week out, he's been the worst keeper in MLS.

    LB Orlando Perez, Chi

    No comment needed.

    CB Diego Gutierrez, KC

    Still good with his feet, but why the heck was he playing in central defense last week?

    CB Tenywa Bonseu, Dallas

    Having a dreadful year ... now that Dunseth is in Dallas, hopefully Bones is done.

    RB Wes Hart, Colorado

    A throwback to the bad old days.

    LM Chris Albright, LA

    Sometimes a talented player is simply a bust.

    CM Kyle Beckerman, Colorado

    Decent young player, but only in the line-up due to the Grimandi/Powell fiasco.

    CM Francisco Gomez, KC

    Gomez is a decent offensive player, but not a guy who breaks down a defense. And playing alongside Preki, he needs to play some defense of his own.

    RM Justin Mapp, Fire

    He's got a great future, but right now, he's a guy who plays no defense and has little endurance. He shouldn't walk straight into a starting line-up.

    F Alejandro Moreno, LA

    Offers roughly what his fellow Venezuelan Savarese did, minus all the scoring.

    F John Wolyniec, Metrostars

    Unbelievable goal last week, beautiful assist the week before. And now Juskowiak is in town ... thanks for the memories.
  4. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    It seems Sigi is politically forced to keep this "prized" (i.e. high priced) defender in the game b/c the FO has invested too much in marketing to San Jose Ultra-esque, tsunami hords of Koreans (all 17 of them).
  5. 352gialloblu

    352gialloblu New Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    Fair enough, but if these are the players we are complaining about, that's great! They aren't half as bad as some of the guys we used to have, and most of them still have time to improve. Or retire.
  6. The Voice of Reason!

    Jan 6, 2002
    Wethersfield CT
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Take that first Roster and put them in San Diego next year. sounds like they may even compete pretty well. in 05 when we have another supposed expansion we just rape the A-League. I thik this is sad, but it would likely bring enough guys in make 2 more teams with very little talent degradation. Depending on senior internationals of course.

    if the league expands again in 06, 07 I would then worry about talent levels. I would imagine we would gain some more youth players, but how many good players will we loose to retirement and Europe?

    Expansion in 06-7 would be tough to sell to me as a win win situation.

    I would be really Psyched if we had 14 teams simular to todays talent level playing in MLS in 2007 but I will not be holding my breath thats for sure.
  7. BenC1357

    BenC1357 Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Don't catch the Wizards games that often huh? (Although I admit with the way they're playing I could see why you wouldnt watch.)

    Gutierrez has been "forced" to CB for two reasons. 1) We've got no one else besides Carey Talley. 2) Diego just isnt fitting anywhere on the field in the 3-5-2. For him to be fully effective he needs to be a LB in a 4-4-2. But he's still one of our best 11, so Gansler seems to want to get him on the field.

    Gomez hasn't played "alongside" Preki all year. Instead Gomez has been playing alongside Zavagnin in the DMid roll. He brings offensively to the back half of our midfield what Talley and Zavagnin can not. Gomez main job seems to be try to help on defense (which he's not good at), get the ball from Zavagnin after he wins it, then get the ball forward to Preki as soon as possible. In our 3-5-2 theres only one AMid, no one is alongside Preki.

    I'm not saying the roles these two are currently playing are good decisions, but thats what they're doing.
  8. FlashMan

    FlashMan Member

    Jan 6, 2000
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The original comment re Gutierrez still remains: he's a misery at CB. Donovan abused him like a schoolgirl. Talley's twice as good back there but I guess hasn't been the same since his injury (or something).

    When he said Gomez played "alongside" Preki, I don't think he meant it quite as literally as you seem to be interpreting it. You guys won a lot more than you lost when Gomez was on the field, and now that he's been benched, the Wizards have stunk. Maybe or maybe not a coincidence but you watch your team a lot closer to be able to make that decision.
  9. beineke

    beineke New Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    IMO, player losses to Europe are going to take a big toll, especially in terms of our star players. As our talent pool matures, that's just inevitable.

    Retirement, however, shouldn't become a significant issue until later. MLS player development didn't really get going until 1998. As a result, the great majority of current MLSers were born in 1976 or later. At the start of 2007, we still won't have many players over 30.

    BTW, good comments so far ... just one nitpick: I do realize the linking role that Gomez plays; by "alongside Preki" I meant "along with," not "beside" (edited to note that FlashMan already pointed this out).
  10. ojsgillt

    ojsgillt Member

    Feb 27, 2001
    Lee's Summit MO
    It is true that star american players will be lost. I think this is a good thing. I am not looking from a national team point of view either. I am looking at the quality of the league. I see this as going in cycles. As an American player gets older and better his salary increases as well as their playmaking responsibility. Less salary is available to forgien acquisitions, and thus the quality goes down.

    The young players of today are without a doubt better than the young players 6 years ago. So better forgien players will help that learning curve even more, until one day they take over the salary and then move onto Europe. This is will ebb and flow like a rising tide, with each wave the water level rises. It will, however, stop rising unless the salary cap is increased.
  11. ojsgillt

    ojsgillt Member

    Feb 27, 2001
    Lee's Summit MO
    I forgot to add that retirement will never be a problem. Only the few that survive the salary cap will ever retire willfully from soccer. As young players get better the older vetrans will either take lower salaries to stay on the team or they will move to the A-leauge. The days are numbering when a player will come to MLS to play out his final days.
  12. Ringo

    Ringo Member

    Jun 10, 2002
    Rough and Ready
    Yeovil Town FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    i guess it was easy to forget. He had one game played in 2001 and 2002. 2 games in two years, no points .... exactly how close could that get a person?
    He was a stud in MLS in 2001, but let's not get carried away.

    ok rants done .... that was a good list, a good thought. enjoyed it.
  13. 352gialloblu

    352gialloblu New Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    Is this where retirement becomes a problem? ;)

    Even if we have to dilute the talent a bit to come up with 2-4 teams in the next 2-4 years, at least they'll be young guys for the most part, and it can't be too bad to let the kids play a bit more.
  14. beineke

    beineke New Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Re: Re: Earning a Place

    Here's the way I look at those two caps. They were our first two matches following the 2001 season, and both were pretty serious (both against South Korea). Lagos played all 90 minutes in the first and also started the second, which was the Gold Cup opener. The other players who started both games were Agoos, Armas, Donovan, and McBride.

    In that second game, Lagos played poorly and was subbed out. Damarcus Beasley entered as a sub and scored the winning goal that triggered his breakthrough. And as the Gold Cup progressed, Eddie Lewis and Cobi Jones (who replaced Lagos in the starting line-up) solidified their positions on the team.

    Lagos wasn't the 24th man or anything, but he was in the mix at a critical point in time. Then he took a step back, and some other guys knocked him off the radar.
  15. McGinty

    McGinty Member

    Aug 29, 2001
    Sporting Kansas City
    I would add that Gutierrez is back there because Gansler probably wanted a defender who could distribute the ball. Sure would like to have Burciaga to take care of that problem.

    Gutierrez is playing more like a sweeper really.
  16. Great first post.

    That's one more reason why MLS needs to expand.

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