[BEST OF MLS 2011: Right midfielders] A Supporters Shield and MLS Cup didn't go to the Galaxy by default; that accomplishment was powered by numerous excellent performances, with Landon Donovan's contribution among the most important.
SA's Top 10 Right Midfielders
1. Landon Donovan (Los Angeles)
2. Andy Najar (D.C. United)
3. Dane Richards (New York)
4. Sanna Nyassi (Colorado)
5. Joao Plata (Toronto FC)
6. Michael Lahoud (Chivas USA)
7. Lamar Neagle (Seattle)
8. Jamie Smith (Colorado)
9. Michael Farfan (Philadelphia)
10. Darlington Nagbe (Portland)
During the Galaxy’s run to the title Donovan played forward and elsewhere in midfield, yet once the other pieces fell into place Landon Donovan took over the right flank.
Donovan epitomized the credo of Coach Bruce Arena that games are won in certain areas of the field, and for Donovan that often meant getting at the opponent from the right wing. Injuries and national-team commitments limited him to 23 games and just three assists yet he netted eight goals from the run of play in addition to converting all four of his penalty kicks.
Several players often stationed on the right flank -– Mauro Rosales (Seattle) and David Chiumiento (Vancouver) to name two -- have been classified as attacking midfielders and are ranked in that category. The designation of TFC’s Joao Plata as a right mid is somewhat arbitrary, since he also played up top, but after the arrival of Danny Koevermans often Plata found himself on the flank, and at 5-foot-2 he’s more suited to the wide open spaces out wide.
Najar, the 2010 Rookie of the Year, came back to score five goals and six assists in 31 games, several of which he dominated by brazen runs and incisive serves. Richards relies too much on his speed and acceleration that can take him down blind alleys, but seven goals and seven assists is a decent haul.
Nyassi moved to forward at times as the Rapids tried to compensate for injuries that sidelined Conor Casey and several other attackers. He still labors through the inconsistency that perhaps contributed to Seattle’s decision to trade him and who knows if a coaching change will produce better stats than the five goals and five assists he registered in 2011. Plata’s elusiveness and skill brightened more than a few tough days for the TFC faithful.
Lahoud didn’t play much as a true wide player in the Chivas USA system but the right side was where he’d be required to close down opponents and funnel balls into the attack. Neagle started just nine games in the Sounders’ veteran-laden lineup, and still managed five goals and two assists. Another season shortened by injuries (20 games, 18 starts) limited Smith, still one of the league’s better wide players when healthy, to three goals and four assists.
Farfan earned the starting job in late season and while not the equal offensively of Roger Torres and Freddy Adu, established himself as a smart, reliable player.
One of Nagbe’s two goals was a Goal of the Year finalist and in his rookie season he showed some remarkable attacking talents.