MLS Positional Rankings (Central Midfielders): Schweinsteiger's class headlines a myriad group

This is a hodgepodge category of two-way midfielders, and players shuttled between different positions and roles. Primarily defensive midfielders will be ranked separately.

Some of these players carried a fair amount of their teams’ offensive burden and did so from a deeper position than most attacking midfielders, so they are listed here. There are also classic No. 8s who covered a lot of ground on both sides of the ball.

These rankings are based on performances in league and playoff games during the 2017 season.
SA Top 10: Central Midfielders:
1. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Chicago)
2. Cristian Roldan (Seattle)
3. Darlington Nagbe (Portland)
4. Kevin Molino (Minnesota United)
5. Blerim Dzemaili (Montreal)
6. Marco Delgado (Toronto FC)
7. Maxi Moralez (New York City FC)
8. Ilie Sanchez (Sporting KC)
9. Tyler Adams (NY Red Bulls)
10. Haris Medunjanin (Philadelphia)
The injury bug, as feared, limited Bastian Schweinsteiger to 24 games and with him hobbled the Fire got doused in the Knockout Round by the Red Bulls. He scored three goals and notched six assists while orchestrating a Fire attack that times couldn’t be stopped. In a hustle-and-bustle league, his vision and poise shone through.

Among the young U.S. players most cruelly robbed of World Cup experience the case of Cristian Roldan is just as sad as that of the other Christian, Pulisic. In 2017, he showed his durability (33 starts), offensive chops (6 goals, 3 assists), and tenacity (team-high 3.5 tackles per game). On the other hand, not going to the World Cup will keep him away from international window-shoppers. Maybe.

Critics of modest offensive production by Darlington Nagbe (3 goals, 5 assists) just don’t get it. He was the primary feeder of balls to the Timbers potent attack force, and he also gets in an average of 1.5 tackles per game. He can be more effective, given his speed and mobility, in picking off loose balls and opponents passes; 0.3 clearances and 0.5 interceptions per game won’t cut it in Atlanta.

Kevin Molino played all along the midfield line for the Loons and sometimes suffered for all the adjustments. Seven goals and nine assists in 30 games, plus 1.5 tackles per outing is solid output for a team that won just 10 games and conceded 70 goals.

Not much fanfare fell to Blerim Dzemaili, despite his offensive prowess (7 goals, 10 assists, 2 key passes per game) and ability to draw fouls (2.7 per game). Playing for the Toronto FC juggernaut raised the bar for Marco Delgado, who scored three goals and bagged five assists in 26 games and marked up excellent figures of 2.5 tackles and 1.6 interceptions per game.

The decline of Andrea Pirlo dropped the NYCFC catalyst role squarely in the lap of Maxi Moralez, whose numbers of five goals and eight assists in 31 games were reasonable if not exceptional for a high-scoring team.

A debut season for Ilie Sanchez produced just two assists in 33 games, but he completed 85.7 percent of his passes and picked off nearly two interceptions per game in a disappointing showing by SKC. Tyler Adams responded well to being moved around into different spots at the tender age of 18. He scored two goals and registered four assists in 24 regular-season games (22 starts) and played every postseason minute while getting in 2.8 tackles per game.

A rough season for Philly required more offense from Haris Medunjanin than perhaps originally intended. He played every game and in addition to scoring two goals and logging eight assists, he completed 82.7 percent of his passes, and contributed 2.6 key passes per outing while also averaging 1.4 tackles and 1.3 interceptions.

1 comment about "MLS Positional Rankings (Central Midfielders): Schweinsteiger's class headlines a myriad group".
  1. Ben Myers, December 19, 2017 at 2:05 p.m.

    It does not look like there are many Americans in the list.  MLS is not exactly the place to develop elite center-mids to play on the USMNT.

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