[MLS] Soccer America's position-by-position rankings for the 2010 season continue as Ridge Mahoney rates the league's holding and central
midfielders. Central midfielders are defined as those tasked with both defensive and offensive responsibilities, holding mids are primarily assigned a role of breaking up plays and winning balls.
Assessing midfielders who normally play in the middle involves some arbitrary classification of some players. Duties are often shared amongst players depending on situations and opponents and can also vary from game to game.
Soccer America's Top 10 MLS holding midfielders for 2010
1. JEFF LARENTOWICZ (COLORADO)
2. Daniel Hernandez (FC Dallas)
3. Logan Pause (Chicago)
4. Brandon McDonald (San Jose)
5. Oswaldo Alonso (Seattle)
6. Brian Carroll (Columbus)
7. Rafael Marquez (New York)
8. Stefani Miglioranzi (Philadelphia)
9. Chris Birchall (Los Angeles)
10. Paulo Nagamura (Chivas USA)
Colorado swung a trade with New England to add Larentowicz’s bite and experience in midfield; his consistently smart, strong play earned a selection to the All-Star Game and formed a powerful tandem with Pablo Mastroeni to propel the Rapids’ championship run. At age 27, he’s at his peak and Colorado can count on him to buttress its midfield for several more seasons at least.
Veteran Daniel Hernandez anchored FCD’s potent midfield in a 4-1-4-1 formation that enabled it to throttle teams in midfield; his passing and vision also set in motion a potent attack. Pause held the fort for a very inconsistent team and his lone goal – a bending screamer from more than 30 yards -- took the team’s top prize. McDonald received far too little credit for his resilient work in the back line as well as midfield. Alsonso drifted out of games until paired with Nathan Sturgis yet could have been stronger in the playoffs.
Carroll dropped a notch from his previous seasons and though still capable, has moved to Philadelphia. Marquez looked very good in several games and annoyingly average – fatigue, perhaps? – in others. Miglioranzi has the tools but needs to cut down on errors. Birchall’s skill set is limited yet he uses what he has. Nagamura – tough, sharp, smart -- had too much to do in a jumbled, confused midfield.
Soccer America's Top 10 MLS central midfielders for 2010
1. PABLO MASTROENI (COLORADO)
2. Dax McCarty (FC Dallas)
3. Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake)
4. Juninho (Los Angeles)
5. Nathan Sturgis (Seattle)
6. Shalrie Joseph (New England)
7. Tony Tchani (New York)
8. Michael Stephens (Los Angeles)
9. Nick LaBrocca (Toronto FC)
10. Adam Moffat (Columbus)
Mastroeni reveled in a stronger lineup and the support of Jeff Larentowicz as his midfield partner to captain the league champion. He still picked up his share of fouls (30) but was cautioned only five times. He also scored two goals and registered three assists while starting all but one game. Aside from the numbers, Mastroeni used his first full season away from the U.S. national team to devote himself to the club, and captured its, and his, first title.
Both McCarty and Beckerman missed about one-third of the season with injuries; as conduits between the back line and the attack, they brought energy and stability to two of the league’s stronger teams. Juninho, in his first MLS season, showed he can thread through balls and take the occasional crack at goal from distance. Sturgis played a vital role in Seattle’s midseason revival yet will be in Toronto next season.
Joseph again took on a lot of the attacking burden while missing one month attending a substance-abuse clinic. Tchani’s robust, sometimes reckless play gave the Red Bulls a physical presence it missed while losing in the playoffs to San Jose. Stephens picked up eight assists while starting most of the games until the final third of the season. LaBrocca lined up on the right as well as the middle to shore up TFC’s muddled midfield. Moffat’s rugged play earned an Expansion Draft move to Portland.