With the 2010 season officially in the books, it's time to take a look back at the year as a whole. Marc Narducci's analysis in today's Inquirer covers a lot of the ground, so here's something more to supplement it. I've compiled all of the Rank and File ratings from this season to get a season-average number for each player.
Before we get to that, though, here are the ratings for Sunday's game at Columbus:
Chris Seitz: 3.75
- "The team doesn't seem to play as well in front of him as they do for Knighton." (Steve O.)
- "Tough to blame him for any of the goals specifically. The backline hung him out dry. He was still caught off his line too often, and failed to pounce on the ball on the breakaway goal. He also misplayed a clearance straight up and into the wind." (Ed Fagan Jr.)
Danny Califf: 3.88
- "Wouldn't mind if we didn't protect him in the expansion draft, which about says it all about our captain." (Erik L.)
Jordan Harvey: 4.50
- "He didn't make the glaring, obvious mistakes that others had but he still didn't do much to prevent 3 goals." (Ed Fagan Jr.)
Michael Orozco Fiscal: 4.13
- "Part of the defensive problem or solution? After year one, still not sure." (Erik L.)
Sheanon Williams: 5.00
- "Sheanon Williams was the only member of the defense who looked competent for the entire game." (Osager)
Eduardo Coudet: 3.63
- "Probably one of his worst matches in a Union shirt. His foul outside of the penalty area was just close enough for an MLS referee to mistake. He was at fault for the first goal and it was all downhill from there. For a defensive midfielder, he just doesn't play much defense." (Ed Fagan Jr.)
Andrew Jacobson: 4.67
Justin Mapp: 4.57
- "He doesn't bring much to the attack. His lack of creativity is even more noticeable when Torres is brought on." (Ed Fagan Jr.)
Shea Salinas: 5.28
- "Salinas should win the team "most improved" award. At the season's beginning he was tentative and ineffective; since the Houston goal he's become the only real speed threat the Union have." (Peter N.)
Roger Torres: 5.63
- "Needs to get stronger to handle the physical aspects of the MLS, but certainly adds great vision and imagination to the field." (Erik L.)
Sebastien Le Toux: 6.75
- "MVP, MVP!! (Just one complaint: set pieces need to improve)." (Erik L.)
Alejandro Moreno: 4.83
Danny Mwanga: 4.36
- "He was not listed on the injury report but I have to believe that shoulder is still nagging him. The offseason will do him a lot of good. He's a finesse striker by trade and he hadn't really been himself since he dislocated/separated his shoulder about a month ago." (Ed Fagan Jr.)
Now for the full-season ratings. A total of 26 players were on the roster for league games this season. Twenty-three of them got on the field in a match, and thus got ratings at some point during the year.
There is one player who played this year but did not get a rating, though: David Myrie. The Costa Rican was in the starting lineup for the season opener at Seattle, and was cut immediately afterwards because he got torched all night by Steve Zakuani on the left flank. We did not start Rank and File until the second game of the season, so Myrie gets no rating.
It's kind of a shame, but then again, that game was over seven months ago. Hard to believe, isn't it?
Okay, here we go.
Brad Knighton: 5.67
Brian Perk: No rating
Chris Seitz: 4.92
Cristian Arrieta: 4.79
Danny Califf: 4.97
Juan Diego González Alzate: 5.00
Jordan Harvey: 5.25
David Myrie: No rating
Michael Orozco Fiscal: 5.08
Toni Stahl: No rating
Shavar Thomas: 3.85
Sheanon Williams: 6.15
Eduardo Coudet: 5.31
Andrew Jacobson: 5.29
Justin Mapp: 5.79
Stefani Miglioranzi: 5.26
Kyle Nakazawa: 5.07
J.T. Noone: No rating
Amobi Okugo: 5.04
Shea Salinas: 5.90
Roger Torres: 5.91
Nick Zimmerman: 4.70
Sébastien Le Toux: 6.81
Jack McInerney: 5.30
Alejandro Moreno: 5.51
Danny Mwanga: 5.85
The MLS Cup playoffs start tonight, as Columbus visits Colorado at 9 p.m. Here's the TV schedule and my predictions for the first round:
Colorado Rapids vs. Columbus Crew
First Leg: at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, tonight at 9 p.m. on ESPN2
Second Leg: at Crew Stadium, November 6 at 4 p.m. on Telefutura
Prediction: Colorado gets the upset. The Crew come into the playoffs reeling. Yes, they routed the Union this past Sunday, but that was their first win in league play since September 4 - and that was only a 1-0 result against D.C. United. The Rapids, meanwhile, are playing well and scoring lots of goals. They only lost two games total in September and October, and scored three or more goals five times.
Colorado also has a really annoying ability to jam the midfield and absorb pressure from an opponent, then strike on the counter-attack with forwards Omar Cummings and Conor Casey. I expect that to happen in this series. The bigger question is whether either game will draw a decent crowd, as both clubs have struggled at the gate all year. Expect to see a lot of empty seats on your TV screen.
FC Dallas vs. Real Salt Lake
First Leg: at Pizza Hut Park, Saturday at 5 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel
Second Leg: at Rio Tinto Stadium, November 6 at 10 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel
Prediction: Real Salt Lake in a close and entertaining series. Both of these teams like to play their soccer on the ground, with David Ferreira pulling the strings for FC Dallas and Javier Morales doing so for Real Salt Lake. Both have only lost one home game all year, and both results between the two clubs this year were 2-0 wins for the home side.
In the end, I think RSL has more depth, and they certainly have more experience having won MLS Cup last season. Having the second game at home will also help. FC Dallas will have to push harder in the first game, and as long as RSL can keep the first game close they'll benefit from the crowd and perhaps the altitude in the second game.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. New York Red Bulls
First Leg: at Buck Shaw Stadium, Saturday at 10 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel
Second Leg: at Red Bull Arena, November 4 at 8 p.m. on ESPN2
Prediction: New York wins relatively comfortably. The only way I see San Jose winning this series is if Chris Wondolowski turns into the next incarnation of Reggie Miller. That's entirely possible, but New York has a much stronger and deeper midfield that should be able to keep posesssion of the ball. The late-season acquisition of Mehdi Ballouchy might just be what puts the Red Bulls over the top, as he can play either behind a striker or as a substitute for midfield linchpin Joel Lindpere.
Thierry Henry might not be fit for the first game, and if he doesn't play I can see San Jose heading east with a lead. But I expect New York to win at home and take the series that way. I will be at Red Bull Arena for that game, and I'm looking forward to seeing whether this is finally the year that New York breaks through. It might just be.
Seattle Sounders vs. Los Angeles Galaxy
First Leg: at Qwest Field, Sunday at 8 p.m. on ESPN2
Second Leg: at the Home Depot Center, November 7 at 9 p.m. on ESPN
Prediction: Los Angeles wins, but if I had any spine I'd pick Seattle for the upset. This is the marquee series of the first round, and well it should be. On one side, you have the superstar trio of David Beckham, Landon Donovan and Edson Buddle; on the other, you have the electric atmosphere created by Seattle fans and one of the hottest teams in MLS right now.
Yet even though the Sounders have won five of their last six games, they still have a tendency to not quite be able to put all the pieces together on the field. The Galaxy are much better at grinding out results when they have to, and unless Seattle wins big at home I think L.A. takes the series.
From a Philadelphia perspective, the season is pretty well over now. The Union will keep training until November 12, but there aren't any more games to look forward to until next year. Before we go our separate ways, though, I'd just like to offer my sincere thanks to all of you for reading this blog all year, and for the incredible job you've all done in creating a community of soccer fans across the Philadelphia region.
When I decided after college that I wanted to live in Philadelphia full-time instead of going back home to D.C., I knew that one of the things I was giving up was having a soccer team in my city. There were rumblings every once in a while that MLS was considering putting an expansion team here, but it took a while before those rumors became reality.
But in the winter of 2008, those dreams that were held for so long by many of you finally came true. Just over a year later, on a gray afternoon outside City Hall, the Philadelphia Union came into existence. Once the NSCAA Convention set up shop here in January, soccer had taken hold in Philadelphia once and for all.
I could not possibly have imagined the wild ride that followed. Traveling to Seattle to start the season was an awesome experience, and I will not soon forget seeing the Sons of Ben standing there in the rain surrounded by a sea of Sounders green and blue. There were also trips to Toronto, New York, Chicago and Washington, each of which was also memorable for its own reasons.
Although the results on the field were not what fans hoped for, there were nonetheless bright spots. In Roger Torres, Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga, the Union have a core of attacking players who can lead this team for years to come. There is further depth across the field in players like Sheanon Williams, Kyle Nakazawa, Shea Salinas and Jack McInerney, and the right coach to bring it all together in Peter Nowak.
Let's not forget about the Independence, by the way. They brought some of the top international players in women's soccer to our region and made the WPS Championship Game in their inaugural season. If the club can find a home that is more accessible to local soccer fans, then it will give Amy Rodriguez and Caroline Seger the kind of stage that they deserve.
It will always be hard for women's soccer to thrive and be profitable, but there's no question that having a professional league in America is the best way to grow the game. As just one example, Lori Lindsey became a mainstay with the U.S. national this year because of how well she played with the Indepdendence.
Above all, though, this year was about the fans. The atmosphere at Lincoln Financial Field and PPL Park immediately vaulted Philadelphia into the upper echelon of fan bases in North America, right up there with Seattle and Toronto. Here's hoping that remains the case in the years to come.
One person deserves special credit for everything that's happened this season. I've been friends with Bryan James, the president of the Sons of Ben, for many years. We used to go to games together in Washington, and even back then I knew how much he wanted there to be a team in Philadelphia.
He worked tirelessly to create the Sons of Ben and to bring a team to this region, and much of what he did took place well out of the spotlight. I know how rewarding this season has been for him, and I think we can all appreciate that.
So now we go our separate ways. A lot of us have come from different places on the local sports landscape. I know that a lot of you are Flyers fans, and that the Sons of Ben are having a get-together and charity fundraiser at a Flyers game soon. Others of you are 76ers fans, or college basketball fans like I am. Still others are just soccer fans, who will spend their winter days watching European games on TV.
If you see me out somewhere, whether at the Palestra, the Wells Fargo Center or just at a bar watching games on a Saturday morning, please do say hello. I've gotten to know more than a few you this year because you've come up to me at PPL Park and told me what your alias is in the comments here.
It has really been an honor to have become a part of the local soccer community, and to be back among the greater community of American soccer. I am sure that we'll have plenty to talk about in the offseason, but as we wind this year down I wanted to make sure I got a chance to just say thank you.