Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mulling over the midfielders

The midfield situation is a bit easier for the first couple slots and a bit harder for the last couple. So, here's the chart ranking our midfielders by minutes per point from 2011.



RankPlayerTeamM/PointG+A
1OchoaSeattle7.12
2GrazziniChicago12.49
3FagundezNew England12.63
4DeRosarioDCU12.928
5DonovanLA13.515
6HarrisVancouver13.95
7FerreiraDallas15.34
8ZakuaniSeattle15.64
9RosalesSeattle15.718
10FranklinLA15.87
11FernandezSeattle15.89
12RichardsNew York16.314
13FucitoMontreal16.64
14BeckhamLA16.717
15ChiumientoVancouver16.911
16MoralesRSL17.15
17DavisHouston17.120
18SheaDallas17.315
19EvansSeattle17.310
20TorresPhiladelphia17.65
21NyassiMontreal17.810
22ChavezSan Jose18.110
23PappaChicago18.210
24SmithColorado18.37
25ClarkHouston18.37
26SoolsmaTFC18.38
27PardoChicago18.46
28CruzDCU18.65
29PlataTFC18.68
30NagbePortland18.85
31LindpereNew York18.914
32FeilhaberNew England18.911
33JewsburyPortland19.015
34AduPhiladelphia19.03
35NajarDCU19.111
36BeckermanRSL19.212
37ZusiSKC19.212
38LaBroccaChivas19.414
39GavinChivas19.63
40MappMontreal19.67
41DukaColumbus19.75
42GavenColumbus19.76
43StephensonSan Jose20.09
44MarquezNew York20.05
45JacobsonDallas20.16
46GilRSL20.12
47BallouchyNew York20.33
48ThompsonColorado20.66
49JuninhoLA20.86
50LahoudChivas21.04
51M. FarfanPhiladelphia21.55
52LarentowiczColorado21.68
53JosephNew England21.79
54ZemanskiChivas21.96
55GardnerMontreal22.14
56TierneyNew England22.86
57HernandezDallas22.86
58CharaPortland23.16
59AlhassanPortland23.16
60McCartyNew York23.36
61AlonsoSeattle23.36
62SalinasSan Jose23.54
63ConveySKC25.63
64KitchenDCU26.51
65EspinosaSKC26.74
66EkpoColumbus26.93



As with the forwards, there are some players (Ochoa, Fagundez) near the top who simply won't get the playing time needed to be effective options. There are also a few players who have been reclassified this year that will hurt their value (Franklin, Harris).

There are a bunch more players owned at over 10% at the time of writing: DeRosario (76.9%), Donovan (56.1%), Lindpere (50.1%), Davis (48.1%), LaBrocca (38.3%), Shea (28.6%), Richards (25.9%), Jewsbury (23.0%), Beckham (21.4%), and Franklin (16.1%). Honestly, most of these guys would be fine picks. DeRo and Donovan are no-brainers that should be owned by everyone. Franklin is the only player that I would absolutely avoid since he spends a lot of his time along the back-line.

Injury watch
There are a few players I'm monitoring closely as they (or their teammates) recover from injury.

Ferreira - He was huge for fantasy managers in 2010 when he had a full season. Last season, his season was cut down by injury, but he managed to rank 7th in minutes per point earned last season during his short time on the field.

Morales - Morales has experienced a set back in his recovery. Not only that, but RSL has so many injuries, I'd be worried about owning anyone from their squad to start the season. He ranked 16th last season in minutes per point and was, like Ferreira, a key fantasy option in 2010.

Davis - Reports say he's on track to return for the season opener. He hasn't featured in either of Houston's pre-season matches. I'm not sure I'd pick him from the start of the season, but certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Zakuani - He won't be ready to start the season. Even if he were, I still wouldn't give him a go before seeing how much his horrifying injury effects not only his pace and touch, but also the mental aspect. As someone who's experienced a lengthy time on the bench due to injury, it really can mess with someone's confidence and aggression.

Ochoa - Ochoa isn't injured, but Eddie Johnson pulled up holding his hamstring in a preseason game today. It remains to be seen how serious it was, but Ochoa would be favorite to take over that role partnering with Montero. This would be a huge boost for fantasy owners paying attention. If Johnson doesn't recover soon, watch for Seattle's line up against Santos in the CCL to see if Ochoa starts. If he does, he'll be playing out of position and ranked first out of all players in minutes per point last season, though he only played 100 minutes, making the sample size extremely small.

New signings and transfers
Montreal - Mapp, Sanna Nyassi, Arnaud, and Fucito should all be starters. Fucito should probably start up front with Braun but he is classified as a midfielder. This would be a much better pairing for Fucito and he should produce more than he did in Seattle.

Songo'o - He's been good in preseason. He's been setting up a lot of Portland's attacking play. He's got La Liga experience with Zaragaza. Probably not worth a spot yet, but should Portland's new-look attack be more potent than last year's, Songo'o seems to be a part of that improvement.

Castillon - I honestly don't know much about him other than his Wikipedia page, but he seems to be a goal-scoring midfielder and has 29 caps with Colombia. Might we actually see a less-defensive formation from Colorado this year?

Mirošević - He was scoring in 42% of games at this last club. That stat alone is making me consider him. As with all new signings, I tend to wait a few games to see how they are being used with their new club and with how they mesh, but an attacking midfielder could score well in Columbus.

Players I'm actually considering for my own team
There are some players who automatically go into my squad and should go into just about everyone's: DeRosario and Donovan.

Now for some of the second-tier choices. Shea, Davis, Rosales, Grazzini, Chiumiento, Ferreira, Morales, and Jewsbury. Injury doubt precludes Ferreira, Davis, and Morales for me at this point. Shea seemed to run out of steam last season due to simply being overplayed, he should be a fine choice to start this season. Jewsbury is on set pieces, but plays a bit too deep for my taste in open play. Rosales and Grazzini ranked very high in minutes per point last season and I expect both Seattle and Chicago to be high-scoring teams again this season - both are currently in my squad. Chiumiento is my dark-horse pick in the middle. He ranked 15th last season in minutes per point earned and Vancouver has improved their attack (on paper at least).

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