[MLS] Soccer America's position-by-position rankings for the 2010 season continue as Ridge Mahoney rates the league's left midfielders.
Our arbitrary designations arise again; Landon Donovan could classified as an attacking midfielder, and so could other players, but is listed here for his importance to his team playing this spot. Most of the others are true flank players, and Steve Zakuani, Joel Lindpere, Bobby Convey, Marco Pappa and Ryan Smith gave the league one of the stronger left-sided attacking corps in its history.
Soccer America's Top 10 MLS left midfielders for 2010
1. LANDON DONOVAN (LOS ANGELES)
2. Steve Zakuani (Seattle)
3. Joel Lindpere (New York)
4. Bobby Convey (San Jose)
5. Marco Pappa (Chicago)
6. Ryan Smith (Sporting Kansas City)
7. Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake)
8. Brek Shea (FC Dallas)
9. Jamie Smith (Colorado)
10. Chris Tierney (New England)
Though he played several different positions during the season, Donovan ended the season at left midfield after Coach Bruce Arena had tried several options in that spot. He missed nine games yet led the league with 16 assists and also scored seven goals as the Galaxy shot to the top of the overall standings and stayed there for the entire season. Yet the best player in the league fell short of a return to MLS Cup when the Galaxy fell to FC Dallas in the Western Conference final.
Zakuani blossomed into an offensive force by melding some savvy with his aggression and pace; he finished second on the team in goals with 10 and also contributed six assists. Lindpere moved from the middle out left when the Red Bulls added Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez and prompted numerous attacks while defending resiliently. Convey put in a solid shift and got up the flank to cause danger in every game, including those when deployed at left back. Pappa, who also occasionally played on the right, bewildered defenses often and with a little more experience should boost his numbers of seven goals and five assists.
Ryan Smith terrorized defenses the first two months of the season, then injuries and rugged treatment slowed him down. Will Johnson’s tough tackling and sharp passing are staples of RSL’s midfield success. Jamie Smith had to fight through injuries yet still bagged eight assists. Inconsistency dogged Brek Shea but he also turned in some outstanding displays. Chris Tierney, who also played left back, made progress in his second pro campaign.