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Who are the contenders starting?
by Paul Kennedy, September 25th, 2012 12:51AM

TAGS:  mls


[MLS SPOTLIGHT] As MLS moves into the home stretch, 12 teams are solidly in contention for playoff berths. What's the makeup of their typical starting lineup? How many Americans are they starting? How many players have been acquired in 2012? And how many have been acquired since the season started? A few of the findings: less than half the starters are Americans, and only slightly more than a quarter of the starters not in MLS last season are Americans, underscoring the reliance of MLS's top teams on imports.

-- Of the 132 starters on the 12 playoff contenders, only 64 are Americans, or just 48 percent.

San Jose leads all teams with seven Americans in its typical starting lineup; Seattle and Vancouver have the fewest with three each.

-- More than 30 percent of the starters (41 of 132) are in their first season with their current club.

New York leads all teams with seven first-year starters and Chicago and Vancouver have six. Only Real Salt Lake has no first-year starters. Indeed, every RSL starter has been with the team three or more years.

-- Five first-year starters are rookies.

They were taken in the SuperDraft (Chicago's Austin Berry and D.C. United's Nick DeLeon, both from Louisville, FC Dallas defender Matt Hedges from North Carolina, Vancouver's Jamaican Darren Mattocks from Akron) or signed to a homegrown contract (New York's Connor Lade).

-- Of the rest, 19 of the 36 first-year starters have been acquired since the start of the season.

They included players who became eligible or were acquired during MLS's summer transfer window. The red-hot Chicago Fire is starting five players acquired since the start of the season. (German Arne Friedrich's paperwork didn't go through until after the start of the season; Brazilian Alex wasn't eligible until the transfer window re-opened.)

-- Of the 41 first-year starters, 25 were imported from teams abroad.

Of the rest, all but one were signed from college teams or acquired in trades with other MLS teams. (Vancouver goalie Brad Knighton spent last season in the NASL.)

-- Of the 31 starters brought into MLS this season, just eight are Americans.

They consist of four rookies, three players brought back after stints abroad -- Chris Rolfe (Chicago), Ricardo Clark (Houston) and Eddie Johnson (Seattle) -- and Knighton.

-- Years indicate continuous years of service with the team.
-- Starting lineups are typical lineups in recent weeks.
1-PS-first-year signed in preseason;
1-MS=first-year pro signed in midseason.
*Signed from a team abroad.


3 Johnson (USA)
2 Anibaba (USA)
1-MS *Friedrich (Germany)
1-R Berry (USA)
8 Segares (Costa Rica)
5 Nyarko (Ghana)
10 Pause (USA)
1-MS *Alex (Brazil)
1-MS *Fernandez  (Uruguay)
1-MS *Rolfe (USA)
1-MS *MacDonald (Netherlands)
5 Americans
6 First-year players

7 Gruenebaum (USA)
2 Miranda (Chile)
9 Marshall (USA)
2 James (Trinidad & Tobago)
3 Williams (USA)
7 Gaven (USA)
6 O’Rourke (USA)
1-PS *Mirosevic (Chile)
3 Duka (USA)
1-MS *Higuain (Argentina)
1-MS *Arrieta (Costa Rica)
6 Americans
3 First-year players

D.C. United
3 Hamid (USA)
2 Korb (USA)
2 McDonald (USA)
4 Jakovic (Canada)
2 Kitchen (USA)
1-PS *Saragosa (Brazil)
1-R DeLeon (USA)
3 Najar (Honduras)
4- Pontius (USA)
1-MS Pajoy (Colombia)
1-PS Maicon Santos (Brazil)
6 Americans
4 First-year players

FC Dallas
3 Hartman (USA)
4 John  (USA)
3 Loyd (USA)
4 Benitez (Colombia)
1-R Hedges (USA)
3 Jackson (Brazil)
2 Jacobson (USA)
4 Ferreira (Colombia)
1-MS de Guzman (Canada)
5 Shea (USA)
1-PS *Perez (Panama)
6 Americans
3 First-year players

4 Hall (USA)
2 Sarkodie (USA)
5 Boswell (USA)
2 Taylor (Jamaica)
4 Hainault (Canada)
2 Luiz Camargo (Brazil)
1-MS *R.Clark (USA)
9 Davis (USA)
1-MS *Garcia (Honduras)
1-PS Kandji (Senegal)
2 Bruin (USA)
6 Americans
3 First-year players

Los Angeles
7 Saunders (USA)
4 Gonzalez (USA)
4 DeLaGarza (USA)
5 Franklin (USA)
4 Dunivant (USA)
1-MS *Wilhelmsson (Sweden)
3 Juninho (Brazil)
1-PS *Sarvas (Brazil)
6 Beckham (England)
8 Donovan (USA)
2 Keane (Ireland)
6 Americans
2 First-year players

New York
1-MS Gaudette (USA)
1-R Lade (USA)
1-PS *Holgersson (Sweden)
1-MS Pearce (USA)
1-PS *Conde (Colombia)
2 McCarty (USA)
3 Marquez (Mexico)
2-Solli (Norway)
1-MS *Cahill (Australia)
3 Henry (France)
1-PS Cooper (USA)
5 Americans
7 First-year players

Real Salt Lake
6 Rimando (USA)
5 Beltran (USA)
5 Olave (Colombia)
5 Borchers (USA)
6 Wingert (USA)
6 Beckerman (USA)
4 Grabavoy (USA)
5 Johnson (Canada)
6 Morales (Argentina)
6 Espindola (Argentina)
3 Saborio (Costa Rica)
6 Americans
0 First-year players

Sporting KC
3 Nielsen (Denmark)
2 Sinovic (USA)
4 Besler (USA)
2 Collin (France)
5 Myers (USA)
2 Julio Cesar (Brazil)
1-PS Nagamura (Brazil)
5 Espinoza (Honduras)
4 Zusi (USA)
4 Kamara (Sierra Leone)
2 Sapong (USA)
5 Americans
1 First-year player

San Jose
3 Busch (USA)
3 Beitashour (USA)
5 Hernandez (USA)
1-PS *Bernardez (Honduras)
3 Morrow (USA)
1-MS Ballouchy (Morocco)
2 Baca (Mexico)
3 Cronin (USA)
2 Dawkins (England)
4 Wondolowski (USA)
2 Lenhart(USA)
7 Americans
2 First-year players

1-PS *Gspurning (Austria)
1-PS *Johansson (Sweden)
3 Parke (USA)
4 Hurtado (Colombia)
4 Gonzalez (Costa Rica)
1-MS *Tiffert (Germany)
4 Alonso (Cuba)
4 Evans (USA)
4 Zakuani (DR Congo)
1-PS *Johnson (USA)
4 Montero (Colombia)
3 Americans
4 First-year players

1-PS Knighton (USA)
1-PS *Lee (South Korea)
1-PS *Bonjour (Argentina)
2 DeMerit (USA)
2 Harvey (USA)
2 Rochat (Switzerland)
2 Koffie (Ghana)
1-MS *Robson (Scotland)
1-MS Richards (Jamaica)
1-R Mattocks (Jamaica)
2 Camilo (Brazil)
3 Americans
6 First-year players

  1. Jim McCabe
    commented on: September 25, 2012 at 8:02 a.m.
    So what? Totally pointless implications of this article. You suck.

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: September 25, 2012 at 8:48 a.m.
    Hey Jim...I didn't even have a chance to review the article as your comment of Paul Kennedy is out of line! However, everyone is entitled to their opinion! Now, when it comes to "the game" and the the "point" regarding statistics provided, you are absolutely CORRECT! POINTLESS! Where the "POINT" lies is "WITHIN THE POINT" meaning a PROPER DOMESTIC LEAGUE which "finds itself" at the other end of our PROFESSIONAL LEAGUES (MLS, NASL, USL!) Soccer America REPORTS about the "Promotion" of Eintracht Frankfurt! THIS IS THE POINT...PROMOTION-RELEGATION! When will we join the REST OF THE WORLD? Season after season, year after year, decade after decade...come on US SOCCER...IMPLEMENT PROPER DOMESTIC PROFESSIONAL will CHANGE THE GAME in every aspect which then will PROVIDE A POINT that Paul Kennedy is "trying" to make! Until then, the US will struggle, POINTLESS comments and articles will be written and round and round we go! Regarding Paul Kennedy...comments made by Jim McCabe comes with the territory I suppose...

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: September 25, 2012 at 9:12 a.m.
    Hey Paul...48% of MLS Playoff Contenders are are Americans. Could you please provide statistics for MLS Non-Playoff Contenders? And what the about the NASL and USL? FYI, concluding in 1984 the North American Soccer League had a minimum of 36% Americans starting Playoff contenders or not...4 mandatory! That's an increase of about "1" American per 11 starters in 28 years in an MLS that doesn't even compare to the North American Soccer League's FOREIGN PLAYER! Numbers have most obviously skyrocketed regarding players, coaches, interest on the playing fields in the United States but has the quality? Look at your numbers!

  1. eric olmstead
    commented on: September 25, 2012 at 12:25 p.m.
    The avg. % of Englishmen starting in the EPL for 2011 was less than 50%. If you only look at the "top teams" (Arsenal, Fulham,Chelsea, Man U,Liverpool,Man City, Everton and Aston Villa) the avg. percentage drops to 30%. The list goes from least Englishmen to most. The MLS, like the EPL, is in the entertainment business. The emphasis is on business. They have to put out a product that people are willing to pay to see. The EPL is thriving w/o putting Englishmen quotas in place. The MLS would be wise to do the same. IMO US soccer patrons want to see games at the highest quality regardless of the nationality of who is playing. Don't confuse national pride with the business side of the game. For what it is worth I would love to see more US players on the field but not at the expense of quality. Those 2 things may seem conflicting but I hold out hope.

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: September 25, 2012 at 3:53 p.m.
    ...At the expense of Quality...where? The MLS? Unfortunately, the league is a continuation of the NCAA...oh dear...Please Eric. However, just like yourself, I am awaiting! By the way old are you? Why? has everything to do with your position! No offense buddy! I will clarify!

  1. Susan Atherly
    commented on: September 26, 2012 at 6:16 p.m.
    No Montreal? And why emphasize USA players on the Canadian teams? Shouldn't they be pro-Canada (which they aren't)?

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