Union Dues: Rating the Midfield in 2010
Last week in the Dues, we examined how the forwards played in 2010 for the Philadelphia Union.
Highlighted by the French maestro Sebastien Le Toux and Rookie of the Year finalist Danny Mwanga, the Union had a number of attacking options in the final third that managed an impressive 35 goals.
The question now is how did the guys supplying them the ball do this season? Given that the list of players is a bit longer than the forwards, we’ll get started now, ranked by their overall performance.
Stefani Miglioranzi: Starting and playing in the most games for a Union midfielder this season, Miglioranzi’s savvy veteran play stabilized a shaky Philadelphia team that started the year slowly. He may be getting up in years, but in 2010, Miglioranzi was fantastic.
Fred: Brought in on draft weekend through a trade with D.C. United, Fred had an up-and-down season for the Union, but for the most part, he was a productive member of the midfield four. Though some questioned his low output, the Brazilian worked well with Miglioranzi and was dangerous going forward.
Justin Mapp: A midseason addition, Mapp is as engrained in MLS culture as you can get, having been in the league since 2002. A crafty wide player, Mapp added a new dimension to the Union’s attack despite drifting in and out of matches at times. He’ll start in 2011.
Roger Torres: Brought in on loan from América de Cali, a club in his native Colombia, Torres was a handful for teams early in the season in 2010. An injury slowed his growth, but fans seemed to really enjoy the spice he brought to the team. His adjustment to MLS was slow, but if the Union are able to keep him, he should be better next year.
Kyle Nakazawa: Taken by the Union in the third round of this year’s SuperDraft, Nakazawa didn’t see the field until midway through the season. His precision service and high work rate won him playing time as they are two traits Peter Nowak values. He’ll see much more action next year.
Eduardo Coudet: Initially a trialist with the Union, Coudet officially signed with the team in July and was tenacious in his role as holding midfielder alongside Miglioranzi. His vision and accurate long balls helped to push the team’s offense forward at a time they had previously struggled.
Andrew Jacobson: Another guy getting time when he could, Jacobson did a lot of things right when he got minutes but also showed how unpolished he still is. With a hammer for a shot and a big, athletic body, Jacobson should have a chance to prove his worth again in year two.
Shea Salinas: His season was hindered by injury and it showed at times as the team played with little width for long stretches. When he was on the field, Salinas showed pace and enthusiasm and netted my pick for goal of the year against Houston. Was also a top guy in the locker room.
Amobi Okugo: The rookie out of UCLA still has a lot to learn about MLS, but showed signs that he is beginning to understand the fundamentals. Was a bit overzealous with his holding role when he did make the lineup, Okugo will improve with an offseason to work on his patience.
Nick Zimmerman: Personally, I liked what Zimmerman did when he made the pitch. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very often as he only managed 159 minutes of playing time. Quick and determined, he showed flashes of really being a solid player. It remains to be seen whether he’ll be in Union colors next year.
Player of the Week: Sebastien Le Toux
Though Danny Mwanga didn’t win the Rookie of the Year award, there is some silverware heading to the City of Brotherly Love this year as Le Toux won the MLS Fair Play Award. A consummate professional, Le Toux only committed 10 fouls all season and has never been issued a yellow card in his two-year career in the league.
Little-Noticed Observation of the Week
I noted that Salinas is a quality locker room presence earlier in the Dues and that even goes all the way to his Twitter account as well. Watching the Green Bay Packers-Dallas Cowboys game on Sunday night, he openly criticized Cowboys running back Marion Barber for celebrating after a short rushing gain, stressing the need to be that effective on every play. You have to play the right way.
Nowakism of the Week
Speaking to Nowak in a phone interview on Friday (which will be soon be published in its entirety), I asked the Union’s Team Manager his favorite part about running the team in their first year. His response? “The Doop song. Without question.” More on that to come.