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MLS's Top Central Midfielders
by Ridge Mahoney, November 19th, 2009 7AM
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[BEST OF MLS] The engine of any team is the midfield, and whether two or three players are asked to take up the roles and positions required centrally, how well they perform often dictates the outcome. In our three categories of midfielders - holding, central (two-way), and attacking - there are overlapping duties and shared responsibilities, and delineations will be arbitrary.

 

For Chicago, Logan Pause plays a holding role, John Thorrington would cover more ground as a two-way player, and Cuauhtemoc Blanco would obviously be the attacking element. As personnel and tactics and systems change from game to game, month to month, classification gets more complicated.

Blanco and Guillermo Barros Schelotto could be also classified as withdrawn forwards, but since they float all over the field, often underneath a lone forward, to prompt attacks, we place them in the attacking mid category.

An added quirk is that sometimes the attacking midfielder, as in the case of Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), plays out wide, yet the attack often goes through him regardless of how much he slides into the middle. And some teams don't play with an attacking mid, per se, and use dual midfielders with two-way responsibilities. Or there's Freddie Ljunberg, who started the season directing the Seattle attack, sometimes as a right mid, yet finished the season up top alongside Fredy Montero, and will be ranked as a forward.

Since Shalrie Joseph played midfield and up top for New England, we've placed him as a two-way midfielder, since there is no four-way category.

As with all our rankings, only performance in MLS regular season and playoff games are evaluated, and players missing time due to injuries, suspensions, or callups are downgraded. TFC midfielder Julian De Guzman, who signed late in the season and played just six games, was excluded for that reason. For attacking players, goals and assists and his team's success are the primary variables.

HOLDING MIDFIELDERS

1. Ricardo Alsonso (Seattle FC)
2. Jeff Larentowicz (New England)
3. Dax McCarty (FC Dallas)
4. Brian Carroll (Columbus)
5. Logan Pause (Chicago)
6. Clyde Simms (D.C. United)
7. Jesse Marsch (Chivas USA)
8. Carl Robinson (Toronto FC)
9. Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado)
10. Stefani Miglioranzi (Los Angeles)

CENTRAL MIDFIELDERS
1. Shalrie Joseph (New England)
2. Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake)
3. Ricardo Clark (Houston)
4. Amado Guevara (Toronto FC)
5. Nick LaBrocca (Colorado)
6. Brad Evans (Seattle)
7. John Thorrington (Chicago)
8. Paulo Nagamura (Chivas USA)
9. Mike Magee (Los Angeles)
10. Jack Jewsbury (Kansas City)

ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS
1. Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto FC)
2. David Ferreira (FC Dallas)
3. Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus)
4. Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Chicago)
5. Stuart Holden (Houston)
6. Steve Ralston (New England)
7. Christian Gomez (D.C. United)
8. Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA)
9. Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake)
10. Davy Arnaud (Kansas City)

 



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