A Little MLS Salary Work: Top 15 Raises

TOP 15 Raises

1. Arturo Alvarez (FCD) – 406%, $32,819 to $166,250
2. Seth Stammler (RBNY) – 240%, $30,870 to $105,000
3. Matias Mantilla (RSL) – 218%, $48,000 to $153,000
4. Guillermo Barros Schelloto (CMB) – 183%, $150,000 to $425,000
5. Ryan Cochrane (SJE) – 158%, $51,149 to $132,000
6. Alan Gordon (LAG) – 135%, $30,870 to $72,504
7. Will Hesmer (CMB) – 127%, $30,870 to $70,000
8. Steve Cronin (LAG) – 116%, $34,728.25 to $75,000
9. Javier Morales (RSL) – 100%, $120,000 to $240,000
10. Ned Grabavoy (SJE) – 100%, $45,050.25 to $90,000
11. Collin Samuel (TFC) – 87%, $90,000 to $168,000
12. Christian Gomez (COL) – 78%, $216,000 to $385,000
13. Jon Conway (RBNY) – 77%, $65,000 to $115,000
14. Shalrie Joseph (NER) – 76%, $170,625 to $300,000
15. Brad Guzan (CHV) – 70%, $52,237.50 to $88,974.38

This is neglecting the upgrades from developmental contracts to the league minimum for Colin Clark, Stephen Keel, Joe Vide, Brad Evans etc.

So what do ya think? Alvarez has been a big part of FC Dallas for a good while now and it’s about time it jumped – but over 400%?

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Houston Dynamo 2007 Review: …the Bastards.

Houston Dynamo
Record (W-L-T): 15-8-7; 43 GF, 23 GA
Source Material: Schedule/match reports; roster

Overview
This one is pretty uncomplicated.  Houston had a straight-up kick-ass 2007.  It’s not just that they won MLS Cup (more on this later), but how well they carried themselves through a duo of international tournaments, the CONCACAF Champions Cup and the inaugural Superliga.  There’s also the incredible 11 games without a loss that carried them through June and July, a period when they went 8-0-3 in league play.  Houston’s didn’t enjoy start-to-finish dominance – they suffered spells where they just…could…not…score – but, on the most fundamental level, Houston started 2007 where they ended it: as the best team in Major League Soccer.

Before going any further, I want to get one thing out of the way: I should hate this club.  I probably want to hate them.  And yet I can’t.  They just seem so dang nice.  Getting back to it…

As almost every MLS fan can tell you, Houston had the best defense in the league, allowing just 23 goals over 30 games.  This is precisely what made MLS Cup, and its clichéd “Tale of Two Halves,” so outright bizarre.   They obviously won in the end, but no one watching the final’s opening 45 would have considered it possible: the New England Revolution had not only dominated the midfield, they had achieved the unthinkable: they totally flummoxed Houston’s vaunted defense.  While the change after the half stopped just shy of night-and-day, the Dynamo’s winning goal revealed what makes these guys champions.  I can still see it (and here’s about how my reaction sounded live): “Whoa…who’s that?  Shit!  It’s [Brad] Davis!  Close him down!  Close him…close him…wait!  No!  Dammit…” Continue reading

Expansion Draft: Yallop v. Me

Well, MLSnet.com finally posted the list of players Frank Yallop picked up for the New Model San Jose Earthquakes in today’s expansion draft (and thanks to all the good people out there who forwarded the list while I was blab, blab, blabbing away in another post). Here’s that list:

1. Ryan Cochrane (Houston Dynamo)
2. Clarence Goodson (FC Dallas)
3. Ned Grabavoy (Columbus Crew)
4. James Riley (New England Revolution)
5. Joseph Vide (New York Red Bulls)
6. Ivan Guerrero (Chicago Fire)
7. Brian Carroll (D.C. United)
8. Jason Hernandez (Chivas USA)
9. Gavin Glinton (LA Galaxy)
10. Chris Pozniak (Toronto FC
)

Now, let’s compare that to the list of players I selected yesterday (the picks we shared are in red):

1. Kevin Hartman: good veteran in goal.
2. Ryan Cochrane: only because he’s younger than Waibel.
3. Ned Grabavoy: What can I say? I’m a fan.
4. Abe Thompson: good depth at forward, instantly granted.
5. Willis Forko: He seemed useful.
6. Kelly Gray: hard, but instant depth tops Glinton’s super-sub upside.
7. Ivan Guerrero: unless the recent injury is serious.
8. Andy Dorman: I’ll take a flyer here and hope for a rebirth.
9. D. Mediate/J. Moose: flip a coin; this is getting hard.
10. John Wolyniec…on principle.

Now…to discuss…with myself…Frank left the building (actually, he was never in it).

RP, who commented on my original post, pointed out the biggest hole in Yallop’s picks: where are the forwards? Sure, there’s Gavin Glinton, but he’s a depth forward in my book. Even among the midfielders Yallop selected, one doesn’t see much in the way of attacking mids. This makes me think two things: 1) Yallop is building from the back; 2) he’s looking elsewhere for attacking talent. On one level, that’s a heck of a gamble.

On another, though, there were few of what I’d dub a lot of top-quality attacking players in the mix, at least not reliable, or reliably healthy, ones (see: Casey, Conor). Another thing on the credit side of Yallop’s picks comes with the fact that he essentially picked up a starting defense (Goodson, Cochrane, Riley, and Hernandez), entirely credible options at holding mid (Grabavoy, Carroll), plus a nifty player in Guerrero, while leaving plenty of money available for those attacking players he’ll find elsewhere. A quick check of each player’s 2007 guaranteed pay (and a little rounding) puts Yallop’s current total at $622,617. After accounting for a designated player (or two) and assuming a $2.3 or so salary cap, it looks like Frank got the New Model ‘Quakes off to a respectable start on the field and has some room to spend.

Expansion Draft: The Unprotected, Shock Parade + My Picks

A man misses a thing or two when his eyes are looking elsewhere. While I know that, tomorrow, Major League Soccer (MLS) will hold the expansion draft that will begin building the New Model San Jose Earthquakes (NMSJE, from here forward), I’ve been too busy to poke around to see who MLS’s 13 current teams left unprotected.

Fortunately, Goal.com (and probably the rest of the known world) pulled the unprotected players into one list. I have to say, I’m seeing some shocks in this big list, players that new NMSJE head coach Frank Yallop can use for a pretty solid foundation. And, being the wagering sort, I’m going to pick the 10 names I would pick – which could translate (extremely) roughly into the 10 picks I’d expect Yallop to make.

UPDATE: OK, I ‘fess up.  Climbing the Ladder picked through the expansion draft as well, but with about half the snark and about three times the data.  If you want to get smarter, go read his; if you’re in the mood for a lark and examining this whole issue through a barely decipherable sheen of ethical conduct, keep reading here.

But I wanted to start by registering my personal shock at some names I’m seeing on the “up-for-grabs” list. Taking it team-by-team, then, here’s my personal “Shock Parade”: Continue reading

MLS Cup Preview: The Revs’ O versus Houston’s (Formidable) D

(UPDATE: Blue Blooded Journo is plugging away at match-up previews of his own. Do check out his latest on Shalrie Joseph (and others) v. Dwayne DeRosario (and others).)

Ever start a project only to realize you’ve built in some redundancy? It only occurs to me now as I’m sitting down to write this, how much of the offense/defense stuff I covered in yesterday’s post on the midfield match-up. That said, I’ll be tightening the focus today, keying in on how, and how well, each team’s forwards coordinate with their midfield. And, for no particular reason, I’m going to start with New England’s offense versus the mighty, mighty Houston Dynamo back four.

By coincidence (and we’re talking big coincidence ‘cause I really haven’t poked around much today) MLSnet.com posted an ode to the Dynamo back line by freelancer and Very Smart Man, Steve Davis. There, you’ll find both bang-up stats and some entirely valid thoughts as to what makes the four-man team of Craig Waibel, Ryan Cochrane, Eddie Robinson, and Wade Barrett effective to the point of making history.

In his piece, Davis points to the mystery of why these four clearly quality players have earned so few caps for the U.S. National team. The answer centers on the Dynamo’s one weakness, one that focuses, in the main, on one man: Eddie Robinson. And what’s that answer? Robinson plays hard – if a little too hard; in my mind, he pushes the “thug” envelope to the breaking point; when the bitter sets in, I tend to view him as a dirty player. Robinson’s 70 fouls put him second in the league (behind Juan Toja) and his 11 cautions put him in first (stats here, but you’ve got to find ’em), both of which tell me that the refs see at least some of what I do. So, to answer Davis’ question directly, Eddie won’t get a call up because he’ll confront his teammates with a conga line of free kicks.

So, yeah, I’m no fan of Robinson. And his problems with fouls have a meaningful practical downside – not just the free kicks I alluded to above, but there’s also card trouble and what that will do to his play if he picks up one early. Fortunately, he’s got first-rate help all around him: Waibel holds down Houston’s right brilliantly with hard, clean play (take note, Eddie); I rate Cochrane higher than Robinson on both offensive and defensive terms; and I think Barrett is pure class, one of the league’s most complete and accomplished left backs. Add ‘keeper Pat Onstad and it’s no wonder these cats made history in 2007.

And, with regard to how this group works together, do note the stats at the end of Davis’ piece – specifically, the shots and shots on goal allowed.

What do the Revolution bring against this highly formidable back four – a unit that receives useful, at times ample, help from midfielders like Richard Mulrooney and Brian Mullan? Put it this way: I don’t know how many free-kicks “Red Rage” Robinson would have to surrender before the Revolution can exploit one, but suspect it’s higher than he’ll achieve over the course of 90, or even 120, minutes. So, let’s take a look at Plan B (I kid, I kid; this is Plan A). Continue reading