Ryan Nelsen Best XI?

Discussion in 'D.C. United' started by Allan Quatermain, Oct 22, 2004.

  1. Allan Quatermain

    Oct 23, 2001
    The Lost City of Gol
    DC United
    That is the question I pose to you.

    Some say yes (Steven Goff, for one, today. I think someone on MLSNET.com suggested as much too).

    I disagree. He only played 17 out of 30 games. One of those games he won for the other team with a disastrous own goal. Another game he blew a similar type of shot on the offensive end (one of those "impossible to miss" shots).

    My impression is that, defensively, he played well in some spots (last week, for instance, he played very well), while in others he didn't appear to play as well as last year.

    Now, "Best XI" is a relative measure, begging comparisons to others around the league. I don't really want to go into who should be on the list instead, but I am curious to hear others' opinions about what sort of season Nellie had.

    I know we had something of this discussion on the team MVP thread last week. I guess my point is that though we are used to thinking of him as a really super-caliber player, did he really perform to that level this year?

    Just asking.
  2. gnat

    gnat New Member

    Oct 1, 2003
    I honestly don't know about the rest of the league as i've stopped caring about them except in relation to DCU's ranking (and if they are the game of the week), but I would say that he is at least worth considering.

    Except for the own goal, I can't really think of anything else that he has done wrong. As far as the "missed" goal, our strikers have missed a lot of those this season, and he's a defender (him almost being the Teams goal scoring champion two (or was it last?) years ago aside).

    The big thing that Nellie does is manage the defense. He is exceptionally good at keeping everyone coordinated so that we have a solid defense. In essence, he is as close to the perfect all-round defender that I think MLS will see for some time. Not necessarily flashy, but he is a solid and dependable workhorse like most of our team (most notably being Benny and Josh) which is what I want on my defense (why I liked Llamosa so much too).

  3. Allan Quatermain

    Oct 23, 2001
    The Lost City of Gol
    DC United

    I'll grant you that. The D does play better as a unit when he's in the game. True, true.
  4. ursula

    ursula Member

    Feb 21, 1999
    Republic of Cascadia
    Calling someone "best" is a bit difficult. "Best" over the whole season? Or "best" when he was peaking in a shorter span of games? Nellie, as we know has been injured much of the season and he had one or two clunkers but when he was on he was- is- the best central defender in MLS, no question.
  5. sch2383

    sch2383 New Member

    Feb 14, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    Nelsen is the best defender in the league when healthy. Its just a shame that he hasn't been healthy this season. If he was, I think we have about 8 or 9 more points.
  6. Daniel le Rouge

    Daniel le Rouge New Member

    Oct 3, 2002
    under a bridge
    This year has been leaps and bounds better than last year, when Ryan's been reasonably healthy. His composure on the ball, passing accuracy, vision and leadership are all a notch above what they were.

    Not just the defense, but the start of our attack is like night and day when he's in compared to when he's out. So yes, I'd say he's a Best XI and MLS Best defender candidate, despite the fact that Bryan Namoff was steadier and more consistent all season long. Ryan has that extra special something that brings out the best in everyone around him.
  7. Funkfoot

    Funkfoot Member+

    May 18, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    When he takes a free kick from the defensive end, he is remarkably accurate - he usually plays the ball right to an open team mate. That's something I don't see people giving him much credit for here. He does well with the long passes in the run of play, as well.
  8. Tyler66

    Tyler66 New Member

    Apr 22, 2004
    if he played a couple more games I'd put him on the Best XI. Bocanegra was Defender of the Year last year and only played 19 games!
  9. ursula

    ursula Member

    Feb 21, 1999
    Republic of Cascadia
    Actually I'd say that his better distribution has more to do with Nowak's positionng of his midfielders than Nellie's kicking ability. Hudson just didn't have a clue about how to build an attack our of the back. Nellie now has reliable targets in places he can reach (and so do Petke, Namoff, Hendrickson, Prideaux, and yes! Stokes- if he chooses to use them. :) )
  10. JoeW

    JoeW New Member

    Apr 19, 2001
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Ranking Ryan this year is tough b/c of the callups and injuries and then 2 clunkers of a game. That said, he's shown in the past he's a best XI and now he's playing at that level again.

    Look at it this way--who's ahead of him? Conrad has played well but not as good as Nellie. Pope? Not this year. Parke and Marshall have played exceptionally well but not good enough to say they're among the best 11 players in the league. Maybe Fraser with Columbus. SJ's central defenders have played poorly and been injured more than Nellie. Curtin? Impressive in spots but ultimately not a great season.

    Our defense without him was a sieve--we defended by attacking and not letting the opposition have the ball. Now we're pitching shutouts (and don't forget that Metro has a fine offense--but they didn't look like it against us). Nellie has a lot to do with that.

    I think you can make a case for why Nelsen had a fine season despite the callups and injuries. We're a hot team in MLS playing great "D" and he has a lot to do with that. But it's even easier to make a case that there aren't more than 2 defenders in MLS better than him right now.
  11. Arisrules

    Arisrules Member

    Feb 19, 2000
    Washington, DC

    This is the best approach for me. I'd put him up there, simply because not many defenders have stood out. In my book, Frasier on C-bus has been superb, and should be defender of the year. The man has really organized and held that team together, just as much as Pope has been ineffective with the Metrostars.

    Segwaying into my next point. How is it that individuals like Marc Connolly can actually say that Pope was a top 3 defender this season. That is a disservice to Pope I think, because he was woefully ineffective for the Metrostars. We needed someone in the back to lead the team, and everyone was looking at Pope. He didn't do it. Instead we relied increasingly on Parke, who was not great at the end of the season, while he was fantastic for the first half. Obviously it didn't help that our midfield and forwards barely helped out the backline, but Pope was a massive question mark this season.

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