2008 MLS Pre-Season Collective Power Rankings: Featuring Collectives Within The Collective

Here comes another first for Center Holds It: Major League Soccer (MLS) Pre-Season Collective Power Rankings. All I do here is take every single posted power ranking of which I’m aware, add up all the numbers for each given team, and then post the average – plus some other data and commentary. The idea is to divine the collective wisdom on MLS’s 14 teams. Does it work? Don’t know. Never thought of it that way…I just find it interesting.

NOTE: If you compile power rankings yourself, or if you see a set of rankings out there that I’m not using in this poll, PLEASE forward word to me (comments or email – jeffbull71[at]yahoo.com – will do). If they get to me before I post the collective rankings on any given Thursday, I can include them. The guiding principle is, the more the merrier, the more the better, the more the smarter. It’s a cornucopia of wisdom we’re wanting.

OTHER NOTE: Last year, a couple readers joined in by posting rankings in the comments to my power rankings post (like this one, posted today) and that is welcome. I imagine, however, there is some kind of upper limit for what I can process without letting this hobby consume my life. I’ll let you know when I get there. For now, though, fire away…next week, that is…fire away for next week’s edition.

One last thing before getting to the rankings and commentary: the list of pundits. As with last year, some rankings come from individual’s (like me and Luis Bueno’s for Sideline Views), while others grow from on-site collectives (ESPN.com’s and Blue Blooded Journo’s); in other words, we’re dealing with collectives within collectives (and our solar system could be an atom contained in the thumbnail of some giant, etc. etc.).

It being early in the year, this is a small sample – only 7 pundits. But I have faith it will grow as the season progresses. Here’s the list for today (with links embedded, so you can check my math): Continue reading

Advertisements

Crew Swings Wildly, Dominates Salvadoran Champs

You can read about the Columbus Crew’s win over El Salvador’s Isidro Metapan, noting that new-man Nicolas Hernandez not only looked active and all right, but also scored the game’s lone goal; you’ll also read that the new-look back-line, anchored by Chad Marshall and Danny O’Rourke, held pretty well.  But you can’t really appreciate how lopsided this game was until you check the box score at the bottom of this one: the Crew fired 20 shots to Metapan’s 3.

And you tell yourself, good stuff….until you do some math: 1 goal on 20 shots.  Rut-roh.

I wish I had time to dwell on this a little more, but, because I’m pinned under life today, this will be a link-fest.  And it’s a great thing that Crew coverage looks pretty good this year, so there’s plenty to pass on:

Columbus Dispatch (main paper, with all its dryness)
Covering the Crew (Columbus Dispatch blog; elbows are a little sharper on play and attendance)
An American Game (I like the vibe I’m getting from this guy)

According to the Crew’s official site, Columbus closed pre-season 6-4-0 – though I’m pretty sure they omitted a warm-up or three against college teams.  Not great, but, in MLS, that’s playoff bound ain’t it?

Before I, or anyone else, gets too cocky, I feel compelled to point out that Soccer By Ives included the Crew in a post on what teams aren’t ready for the regular season.  Another point – perhaps only somewhat related – bears noting: Toronto FC, the Crew’s opening day opponent, got on the wrong end of a public dumping by their head coach.  What am I getting at?  Even a three-legged bear can be dangerous when cornered – in other words, don’t all y’all go napping on opening day just because TFC looked like crap in pre-season.

Though it also bears mentioning that TFC made Soccer By Ives’ sorry short-list as well….and with considerably more justification…

One Main, Late Thought on LA Gals v. Hong Kong Union

Yeah, I actually watched this game in the wee hours of Saturday night.  I know this is almost absurdly late to post on any game, never mind a warm-up, and many of you have already read good write-ups on the game – for instance, Soccer America’s entirely deserved praise of David Beckham’s play or the LA Offside’s notes on promising contributions from Ely Allen and Sean Franklin (I second jen’s thoughts on Franklin, especially, though Allen’s not bad).

Given my tardiness, both comparative and real, I’ll only say I enjoyed the game enough, though LA’s difficulty with making more of their edge over Hong Kong surprised me more than a little; with a defense balanced between green (rookies/youngsters) and gray (geezers), they need that offense to fire cleanly and often.

Generalities aside, one thought stuck with me since Saturday: after being fairly impressed with Alvaro Pires play, particularly against Sydney FC, his limitations stuck out like a sore thumb wrapped in ten feet of gauze on Saturday.  He runs at players well enough and he can play a decent short pass, but after that…it’s pretty bad.  He put several hundred pounds too much weight on lofted passes, through-balls, etc.  In other words, anything other than a short, possession pass and Alvaro brought too little for a pro.  The only upside I see in him over Kyle Martino?  He’s healthy.  That’s it.  I’d pass on him and, so far, LA has.  We’ll see what they do down the road.

Claudio, tell me what you really think…

Michael Lewis of Big Apple Soccer got a story’s worth over in Salzburg as he was over there for Red Bull New York’s training at their sister club’s complex. Apparently, a scrimmage today between the Salzburg reserves and New York got chippy and prompted a normally quiet Claudio Reyna to say this…

“I played in Germany and this is how it is always with Germans and Austrians, diving and cheats,” he said. “It’s how they are. That’s how they always play. It’s a shame.”

Bold statement, but frankly, many would agree. Dane Richards is now injured with a sprained MCL thanks to an errant tackle from one of the Salzburg reserves. If you read the rest of the article you will see that Reyna wasn’t the only one with harsh words to say…

What do you think? February’s BEST XI to come later…

Crew TSII: Wait, what? Make that 4-3-0.

Covering the Crew is telling me that the Columbus Crew lost to the Ventura Co. Fusion, a team whose name I feel compelled to abbreviate for reasons unknown. No word yet (that’s 2:36 p.m. PST) on the official site and I can’t say I blame ’em. I’d had that one like a drunk uncle. This is the team, after all, Real Salt Lake (RSL) fuckin’ shellacked a couple weeks back. Covering the Crew’s makes no mention of the score – though the url for the post hints at a 1-0 loss – so…if you add up the goals, this like losing to RSL 8-0. (What? Don’t you tell me what is and is not mathematically valid. I’m a scientist!)

At any rate, the talk of the Crew’s record in yesterday’s post seems rather cocky in retrospect. I’m not expecting a whole lot this season, but I do expect games like this to spark a little optimism all the same.

UPDATE: With a happy hat-tip to du Nord, I can now pass on a local write-up on the game, though that’s as much a thumbnail sketch of how to build a PDL team than a match report.  There’s also something I forgot to mention: Covering the Crew points out that a few Crew trialists played with the Fusion.  For what it’s worth, this excuses nothing.

Bueno Throws Down Gauntlet: Nostalgia and Questions

I think it was yesterday that Sideline Views’ Luis Bueno posted pre-season power rankings for Major League Soccer’s (MLS) 14 teams. Now, I’m missing the 2007 like a bitch, with its power rankings and the collective power rankings I ran on this site….and will soon run again.

Bueno took a fairly scientific approach, basing his rankings on the rankings he assigned to each position and you can find links to those through Laurie’s post on this subject for the MLS Offside. And, if you go to the comments, you can see that surprisingly deep and persistent love for Toronto FC, a team whose off-season moves (see the bottom) have 1) only just begun, and 2) haven’t been of an order to make me think they’ll rise super far above 2007’s on-field horror-show (again, people, the crowds are cool and nice, but they don’t but anything in the standings). That is to say, I don’t know why people think 11th is such a strange call for Toronto in 2008. Still, the comments – even those Toronto-philic ones (the Crew will beat you this year; the as-yet unnamed (meaningless) trophy will be ours!* You’ll see!) – are worth the gander.

Anyway, getting back to it, what Bueno put down for his rankings appears below (and I’m borrowing this from The Offside’s post, ’cause their copy is cleaner). I was tempted to try to compile rankings of my own, but, if I’m being honest, I can’t get my head around variables like the new players, tested or otherwise. I’ll just post the questions that come to me upon seeing Bueno’s rankings – e.g. a man who has actually gave this some thought. I will only say this: Bueno pulled together his rankings in a way that made each team the sum of its parts. Respectfully – and I say that ’cause he’s killer – I don’t think that’s the correct approach: teams can compensate for weak spots – e.g. a good defense can help a dodgy ‘keeper and route-one play can cover a sub-par midfield. Not every time, of course, but a team can get away with it if the replacement parts are strong enough. So, yeah, I’ll just pose some questions…

…and to show my respect for the difficulty of what Bueno did, I’m going to preserve the crack at power rankings I started, but failed to complete. You’ll see that all the way at the bottom…and – woo! – it’s just non-sensical.

(* Holy crap!  I think I’m pulling for the Crew!  How’d that happen?  No wait.  Why does that happen?)

Continue reading

Rapids TSII: Pre-Season Game(s) and Early Analysis

Given the low frequency of these posts, it no doubt seems I’ve stopped keeping tabs on the Colorado Rapids. If any Rapids fans out there feel chagrined, don’t fret: I posted something on the Crew a couple minutes ago with an introduction that reads exactly the same, only with the names changed around (or does it?).

The same explanation applies here: I can’t see practices (and they probably aren’t open anyway), the Rapids have a tight-lipped presence online, they haven’t done much since the Gomez trade, etc. So, as with the Crew, I’m kind of biding my time till the regular season starts. In fact, I was going to post on the basic notion of biding my time about Major League Soccer (MLS) generally, when it occurred to me this was 1) self-evident, and 2) no one wants to read about my personal problems with soccer coverage (does anyone want to read this? Hmm….).

That said, as with the Crew, I’m going to post something – anything – on the Rapids at least once a week. A round-up, some thinly-supported observations about the road ahead: something. I’ll try to make it worth your while, but no promises.

Fortunately, a couple things showed up today (and days earlier this week) that reveal signs of life out of Colorado. For one, the Rapids played two simultaneous games against every MLS club’s pre-season warm-up favorites, the United States U-17s (seriously, is there an MLS team those youngsters haven’t played?) View from the Couch turned in a report based on (inevitably) the write-up on the Rapids’ official site. Unsurprisingly, View from the Couch’s report reads better and he flags potential injury issues for a couple players.

In another bit of good luck, I stumbled across a couple massive early analyses on Class VI. Informally polling some Rapids fans/bloggers, Class VI made an apparent stab at creating the conventional wisdom on the various parts of the Colorado Mark ’08. One clocked expectations for the (Christian) Gomez-powered midfield, while the other looked at prospects for the defense, a unit that performed very well last year and experienced little turnover. A look at the forwards is in the pipeline, no doubt, and I fully expect an invitation to participate; I don’t know why, in fact, I wasn’t invited to participate on these two… (NOTE: I’m KIDDING. All those polled look like actual fans, whereas I’m, really, just a tourist at this point with more to learn than say). Anyway, these are educational, both for the awareness of the personnel and for seeing what Colorado fans think of their team’s chances.

What do I think of Colorado’s chances? In all honesty, I can’t say I have really even thought about it. It occurred to me today that I’ve essentially reserved judgment on anything to do with all MLS clubs’ regular season performance until after the March 3 roster cut-off. Too many things remain in flux and, empiricist that I generally am, I feel like too many variables remain in play. In fact, March 3 looms rather large in my head. I’ll start cranking out previews and generally prognosticating shortly after, and not just for the Crew and Rapids, but for all MLS clubs. So, look for ’em then.