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Davis, Ljungberg top ranks of the flanks
by Ridge Mahoney, November 20th, 2009 6:45AM
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[BEST OF MLS] A few names might seem to be missing from our ranking of outside midfielders, and that is because they have been, perhaps arbitrarily, placed in other categories, either as a central or attacking midfielder or one of the forward positions. Freddie Ljungberg finished the season as a forward for Seattle, with Nate Jaqua listed as the right mid, yet Ljungberg played various midfield positions for most of the season and did it well enough to top the list of wide midfielders. Dynamo Brad Davis notched 12 assists to head a good cast of left-siders.

Other names are missing, or rate lower than in past years, due to subpar seasons. Many teams also used a bevy of players to solve problems on the outside, and not all of them succeeded. Moving Sacha Kljestan inside or to the left side, for example, gave midseason import Jesus Padilla a real chance to make the Chivas USA right mid slot his own, but he didn't. (Kljestan was classified as an attacking midfielder.)

TFC gave rookie Sam Cronin as much time as it could, but not always in the middle, since already aboard were Amado Guevara and Carl Robinson and Dwayne De Rosario, and then Julian de Guzman showed up late in the season. And Stuart Holden made the move inside for Houston this year, after playing both flanks since arriving in MLS three years ago.

Teams such as Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake, due to midfield alignments, sometimes played with a wide player -- or both -- tucked in tight. In most cases we've tried to place a player where he most often appeared, or enjoyed the most success. And a few players showed up on both sides.

1. Brad Davis (Houston)
2. Dave van den Bergh (FC Dallas)
3. Claudio Lopez (Kansas City)
4. Colin Clark (Colorado)
5. Marco Pappa (Chicago)
6. Steve Zakuani (Seattle)
7. Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake)
8. Sam Cronin (Toronto FC)
9. Jeremy Hall (New York)
10. Eddie Lewis (Los Angeles)

1. Freddie Ljungberg (Seattle)
2. Chris Rolfe (Chicago)
3. Eddie Gaven (Columbus)
4. Chris Pontius (D.C. United)
5. Emmanuel Ekpo (Columbus)
6. Clint Mathis (Real Salt Lake)
7. Brian Mullan (Houston)
8. David Beckham (Los Angeles)
9. Arturo Alvarez (San Jose)
10. Atiba Harris (FC Dallas)


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