Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Is Portugal really in bad shape? (and other UEFA qualifying analysis)

Outside of CONCACAF, UEFA is my favorite confederation to watch when it comes to World Cup qualifying. I love seeing quality teams go at it, but what really excites me is the possibility that several of those teams could get left out. There are always a couple of surprise packages, and it's a guarantee that one of the "elite" teams (England/France/Germany/Italy/Netherlands/Portugal/Spain) will be in trouble.

From the US point of view, this is the single most important region to watch. I want us to advance as far as possible in the World Cup, and one of those elite teams missing out will help us more than anything. This time, it's Portugal and France that are struggling a bit. Now it doesn't look like the seeding (of the top 8 teams in 2010) would be affected much if either failed to qualify. BTW, that link goes to Football Rankings, a great blog for all your seeding and ranking needs: FIFA, UEFA, etc. Highly recommended.

Anyway, the top 9 teams in the world (the above 7 from UEFA and Argentina/Brazil) have a lock on the 7 available seeds for 2010. However, the big deal is in the UEFA pot for the 2010 draw. That's the most important of the four pots in the final draw. If all 9 of those teams qualify, then there's a 25% chance of drawing either Portugal/Netherlands in addition to the seeded team. The difference between those two teams and say, Serbia or Switzerland is huge. So even though the seeded teams would still be strong, a top team missing out would affect our chances greatly.

Current UEFA qualifying standings (FIFA.com)

What I'm going to look at now is how some of the groups may turn out. I want to assume some winners in the easy games, to see how misleading the current standings may or may not be. I'm using vajradaka from Bigsoccer's UEFA qualifying spreadsheet to project the results. Let's look at group 1 and Portugal first. Here is the current table:

Group 1

GP W D L Pts
1 Denmark 4 3 1 0 10
2 Hungary 5 3 1 1 10
3 Portugal 5 1 3 1 6
4 Sweden 4 1 3 0 6
5 Albania 6 1 3 2 6
6 Malta 6 0 1 5 1

It doesn't look great for Portugal. They've only earned one point against both Denmark and Sweden at home. In addition, both of those teams have a game in hand. But what I want to look at is, what if the top teams are victorious in all of the matches they should win? I'd have to include Hungary as an easy match. Despite their current position, they've only beaten Albania (x2) and Malta.

If I give Denmark/Portugal/Sweden wins in all their matches against the other three (and let's say Hungary beats Malta just to make things more complete), we get the following table:

W D L Pts
1 Denmark 7 6 1 0 19
2 Portugal 9 5 3 1 18
3 Sweden 8 5 3 0 18
4 Hungary 10 4 1 5 13
5 Albania 10 1 3 6 6
6 Malta 10 0 1 9 1

Portugal is still in bad shape, but not all is lost. It basically all comes down to the one match remaining where they can make a difference. That would be September 5th in Denmark. If they win that match, then they should be in the playoffs no matter what. Only a split between Denmark and Sweden would give them a chance to miss out as they'd be tied with Sweden and it'd come down to goal differential (but they should have a higher GD anyway).

If Portugal wins in Denmark, how the DEN-SWE games will affect them:

Denmark Portugal Sweden
DEN sweep 25 21 18
SWE sweep 19 21 24
1 win each 22 21 21
2 draws 21 21 20

However, if Portugal were to draw in Denmark, then only Denmark getting 4 points or more against Sweden would allow the Portuguese to finish in second. So Portugal really is in dire straights in that scenario.

If Portugal draws in Denmark, how the DEN-SWE games will affect them:

Denmark Portugal Sweden
DEN sweep 26 19 18
SWE sweep 20 19 24
1 win each 23 19 21
2 draws 25 19 23

So in summary, it would really help them Denmark dominates Sweden. But they really need to win in Denmark on 9/5. Even after all this, the playoffs would almost certainly await.

Group 7

Now how about France? I don't think there are any easy games in that group among the top 5. However, we can take the 6 remaining games against the Faroe Islands out of the equation.

Current standings:

GP W D L Pts
1 Serbia 5 4 0 1 12
2 Lithuania 5 3 0 2 9
3 France 4 2 1 1 7
4 Austria 4 1 1 2 4
5 Romania 4 1 1 2 4
6 Faroe Islands 4 0 1 3 1

Standings after giving wins to all remaining Faroes opponents:

GP W D L Pts
1 Serbia 6 5 0 1 15
2 France 6 4 1 1 13
3 Lithuania 6 4 0 2 12
4 Austria 5 2 1 2 7
5 Romania 5 2 1 2 7
6 Faroe-Islands 10 0 1 9 1

France is the only team which has two remaining games against them, so their position looks better when you take that into account. Plus, their other four games include three home matches (Lithuania, Romania, Austria). So I expect France to easily qualify for the playoffs at the very least. Now the top spot may still be in question, because Serbia also has 3/4 of the other matches at home and the only away match is Lithuania on the final matchday when they should already be eliminated. They've already beaten Austria and Romania away, so I assume they can do it at home too.

Serbia plays France at home on September 9. Even if they slip up and draw one of their other matches, they could conceivably still finish top of the group with a draw against France. It would come down to GD then. They probably would finish first in such a scenario unless France mauls the Faroes twice. So if France wants to finish first, they probably will need to win in Serbia. Otherwise they'll be taking their chances in the playoffs.

On a side note, I really hope that they don't seed the playoff teams like they did last cycle. If both Portugal and France make it, they should have a chance to meet each other. Don't protect the big countries, they already were seeded for the group draw.

What about other groups?

Group 3

If every team beats San Marino:

GP Pts
1 Slovenia 7 14
2 Slovakia 5 12
3 Czech Rep 6 11
4 N.Ireland 6 10
5 Poland 6 10

Slovenia is in a good position. They're the only team with two remaining games against San Marino (whereas Northern Ireland has faced them twice). They've also already played @ Poland and both games against the Czech Republic. They could be a good bet to finish in the top two (Czech's have 3/4 at home, should still finish 1st). However, it seems like the evenness of this group could cause it to end up as the group with the worst second place finisher, which means no playoffs. I think it's either this group or group 9.

Group 4

If the top three beat the bottom three every time:

GP Pts
1 Germany 8 22
2 Russia 8 21
3 Finland 8 19

10-Jun Finland-Russia
10-Oct Russia-Germany
14-Oct Germany-Finland

Group 5

If Belgium/Bosnia/Turkey lose to Spain but beat Armenia/Estonia:

GP Pts
1 Bosnia 8 15
2 Turkey 8 14
3 Belgium 8 13

1-Apr Bosnia-Belgium
9-Sep Bosnia-Turkey
10-Oct Belgium-Turkey

It really is vital for Turkey to get a result against Spain tomorrow. Bosnia's in good shape, and they have a home match against Spain on the final matchday when they'll have nothing to play for.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, March 29, 2009

MLS: 2-0 and 0-2 Starts

The first two rounds of the 2009 MLS regular season have been completed. At the top of table are Chivas and Seattle at 2-0, and at the bottom are Dallas and Kansas City at 0-2. What I want to know is, how many teams have started off with those records and how did they finish the year?

First of all, I will be counting shootouts from 1996-99 as draws (as is the norm on this blog).

In MLS history, 16 previous teams have started off 2-0, while 19 have started off 0-2. There have been a total of previous 149 MLS team seasons. If you take the average PPG that those 149 teams finished with, it comes out to 1.38. So how did those 16 and 19 teams do in comparison? Let's take a look:

Number PPG > AVG <.AVG
2-0 start 16 1.66 14 2
All teams 149 1.38

0-2 start 19 1.26 5 14

It appears that teams who started 2-0 are much more likely to do well than teams who started 0-2 are likely to do bad. I should note that for the starts I haven't taken into account home and away games.

The 2-0 teams include 4 MLS Cup champions and 5 Supporters' Shield winners. The only two teams in that group to finish below 1.38 were the 2004 Metrostars and the 2006 Kansas City Wizards. KC is the only not to make the playoffs. The median is exactly the same as the average of the 16 teams.

The 0-2 teams feature a couple of the worst teams in league history, but also some really good teams. The total haul includes an MLS Cup winner, 2 Supporters' Shields, and 3 Open Cups. Because of that, the median is a little lower than the average of the 19 teams: 1.22.

So I guess that Chivas and Seattle should be feeling very good at the moment, but Dallas and KC fans (and potentially RSL fans) shouldn't feel like they're doomed to a poor season. What's next? Well, only four teams in league history have started off 3-0, and only one has won their first four games (1996 LA). That team actually their first eight matches. On the flip side, eight teams have started off 0-3, two were 0-4, and only one team has lost their first five games (2001 NE). They started 0-6.

The 4 teams that started off 3-0 had a PPG of 1.49 (includes that KC team mentioned earlier), while the 8 teams that started off 0-3 had a PPG of 1.27.


Friday, March 27, 2009

The Next Week's Most Important World Cup Qualifiers

It's time (finally) for World Cup qualifying to pick up again in earnest. I thought I would take a look at the most important matchups in each confederation for each round of matches. Africa is only playing one round, and everyone else plays two (though many European teams only play once).

AFC (Asia)

3/28 - Iran vs Saudi Arabia
Group 1 is cut and dried with Australia and Japan easily out in front. Even the battle for third place in that group seems boring, because whomever is decent enough to get it will be a big underdog to the group 2 third place team.

So the real action is group 2, where Saudi Arabia is in deep danger of missing the 2010 World Cup. They really can't afford to lose in Iran. If they do, then they won't be eliminated but they'll probably be out of the running for the top two and would likely need to get 7 points in their final 3 games just to get third. It may end up coming down to the final matchday against North Korea for third place. Of course, if Iran loses then they'll drop to fourth.

4/1 - South Korea vs North Korea

The North Koreans normally wouldn't be taken too seriously away from home, but they always seem to play well against their neighbors to the south. They played three straight draws last year in qualifying action, with only two goals in 270 minutes of action. South Korea's schedule finishes with two home games again Iran and Saudi Arabia, against whom they've already taken 4 points on the road. So a draw here wouldn't hurt them much, but it greatly help the North Koreans.

CAF (Africa)

3/28 - Togo vs Cameroon
The African marquee matchup of the weekend comes from the group of death. This is a matchup between two of Africa's best players: Emmanuel Adebayor (if he plays) and Samuel Eto'o. Togo may have participated in the 2006 World Cup, but they are considered huge underdogs against Cameroon and Morocco. Looking at the draw, Togo was easily the toughest team in pot 4, while Morocco was one of the two to avoid in pot 2. So this was about as difficult of a group as could be.

Togo's results were not impressive in the previous round. They lost both away matches to Swaziland and Zambia, but they did win both of the "home" games. If they're going to qualify, they're going to have to take points from Cameroon and Morocco and at home will be the best place to do that. The problem is, they're not actually playing at home. They're currently banned from doing that, so once again they'll play in Ghana.

CONCACAF (North America)

3/28 - Trinidad vs Honduras
Costa Rica's visit to Mexico will grab the headlines, but this matchup should have more of an impact on who actually finishes third and fourth. Trinidad really should've beaten likely 6th place finishers El Salvador on the road. But they let it slip away, and now they'll face the team which is their biggest competition for the 4th spot.

The last time these two teams met in a qualifier was the infamous 1-0 Trinidad win in Honduras which may have cost the Central Americans a place in the 2002 World Cup. That was the only Trinidad win in the entire hex, and it was one of those games where one team dominates but can't score, and then the other team gets one opportunity and scores.

Trinidad needs to win this game, while Honduras can't lose another away game to their competition for 3rd and 4th. They've already lost to Costa Rica. Honduras will miss David Suazo due to injury, while Trinidad is missing a few key players (Yorke, Birchall, Ince).

4/1 - Honduras vs Mexico
Depending on the Costa Rica result, there will either be an enormous amount of pressure on Mexico or only just a lot. 3 points after two games would still not be good for a country with the expectations of Mexico, and losing two out of three probably would not save Sven's job. And remember, Mexico just lost in Honduras this past fall. That made it three straight WCQ matches in Honduras where they Mexicans have lost.

Maybe they can also settle the battle of who's the most expensive player in CONCACAF history: Palacios or Castillo?

CONMEBOL (South America)

3/28 - Uruguay vs Paraguay
When you think of the top team in South American soccer, you don't think Paraguay. But that's exactly where they are 10 games into the 18 game qualifying marathon, ahead by 6 points over Brazil and 7 up on Argentina. With 23 points, they should be considered a lock to qualify. The number needed for 4th place was 28 and 30 in the last two cycles.

Uruguay, meanwhile, always seems to be a middle of the pack team in CONMEBOL. They've barely finished 5th two straight times. Guess where they currently sit in the standings? Paraguay is by no means an unbeatable team, and certainly more ripe for defeat than either of the traditional powers. If the Uruguayans want to take the leap to the automatic places, then they need to win this game. Chile and Colombia are probably going to win in this round so they need to win to keep pace.

Uruguay won this fixture last cycle, but lost in the 2002 and 1998 cycles.

4/1 - Chile vs Uruguay
After the first round this weekend, Chile should still be ahead of Uruguay by 3+ points. This is a great chance to put some space between one of their rivals for the final automatic place. Basically, you have four countries fighting for one automatic place and the playoff position. It's these two, Colombia, and Ecuador. Chile is already 5 points up on Colombia, who have two easy games, while Ecuador should drop some points against tough competition. If all goes right, Chile could be up by 5 points on all three of those teams for fourth place at the week's end.

However, Chile hasn't won this fixture since the 1998 cycle.

UEFA (Europe)

3/28 - Portugal vs Sweden
The Portuguese are the currently the top team worldwide in danger of missing out on South Africa 2010. Sure, France is also not doing so hot. But they've lost points in away games, whereas Portugal have gotten one point from two home games against Denmark and Albania. That's not a recipe for success. Being in a group with two other very good teams (Denmark and Sweden) means that there is little margin for error. Already they've failed to beat both of those teams.

The first match between these two teams finished 0-0 in Sweden. Now the Swedes have already tied Albania as well, so if Portugal could beat them here they would be right back on track. Sweden is missing quite a few players (including Ibrahimovic, see the first link), so this a great chance for Ronaldo and company to win.

This is the biggest matchup in all of qualifying this window. Could the 2006 semifinalists be virtually knocked out already?

4/1 - Greece vs Israel
They'll play each other twice over the next week. This will go a long way in determining who is going to snatch that top spot. Or, they could both leave it wide open for Switzerland. The group has no obvious favorite, and all three have suffered disappointment so far. Switzerland famously lost against Luxembourg, while Israel could only draw in Latvia. Greece lost at home to the Swiss, who've also held Israel to an home draw. So with 4 points from the two toughest games, Switzerland would be in great shape if not for the 3 points they threw away.

Israel went undefeated in 2006 qualifying against the likes of France, Switzerland, and Ireland, yet missed out on even a playoff place. Here's the problem: too many draws. They've already drawn at home against the Swiss as mentioned above, but they did come back from two goals down to do it. But they'll have to win eventually.

Greece were seeded and got an extremely easy group as a result. If they can't qualify from this group, then they might as well give up. I'd say due to Israel's draw with Latvia, if the results from this two games series are split it would help Greece more than Israel. But neither team can expect to qualify ahead of the Swiss unless they get 4 points or more.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

MLS Week One - Notable Stuff

1) Lots of news on the age records. I've updated the top 25 youngest players, oldest players, and oldest debuts for MLS. I suppose the biggest thing would be Kasey Keller's debut with the Sounders. He now holds the record for the oldest debut in league history (39.30), beating out Lothar Matthaus (39.01).

Also, Pat Onstad is now the second oldest player in league history, passing Carlos Valderrama. At this rate, he'll pass Preki for the top spot sometime next season.

And of course Tony Sanneh is now the top 25 list of oldest players.

2) How many MLS Cup champions have won their first game? The answer is "a lot." A total of 9/13 future title winners won at the first attempt of the season. Overall, the 13 champions are 9-2-2. The only ones to lose are 1996 DC and 2005 LA.

So that's good news for Chicago, Chivas USA, New England, Seattle, and Toronto. RSL still to play their opener.

3) Fredy Montero is the hot name in MLS right now after scoring a brace in the season opener. With Montero and Juan Pablo Angel, there's a pretty good pair of Colombian strikers in the league. But when it comes to non-American goalscoring, Colombia is only second in MLS history. The top foreign country? El Salvador. They've only had six players in the league, but the quality's been good (Cerritos, Cienfuegos, Diaz Arce, Zarco).

The reason I wanted to mention this is that Colombia was only 9 goals behind El Salvador entering the season (220-211), and that number is now 7. So it's just a matter of time before we have a new foreign leader.

Where's Mexico? 7th, right behind Jamaica.

4) By my count, 29/60 draft picks were on an opening day roster. However, that does include 14 who were listed as senior roster players including several drafted in the later rounds. Last year, only a couple guys were in that position. I know Brian Edwards was one, and I think Shea Salinas and Eric Brunner were too. So it appears that many of the extra senior roster spots are going to rookies.

Let's look at the draft positions. The highest drafted player to fail to make a roster was Ryan Maxwell of New England. He was drafted with the last pick of the first round (15th), but his age (25) worked against him. Brad Ring (17th) is injured and out for the year, while Babajide Ogunbiyi (18th) didn't show up for camp and will test his luck in Europe.

If you were drafted after the first round, your chances were 15/45 = 33% to make a roster. I believe the only 2009 undrafted rookies on rosters are Yohance Marshall (LA), Zack Simmons (NE), and Alec Dufty (NY).

Labels: ,

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Which MLS teams are best on opening day?

Updated for 2009 (EDIT: Now with RSL's game included). KC's record streak of 7 straight opening days without a loss is history. Meanwhile, Chivas USA is starting to develop a good opening tradition themselves.

Technically, I should mention that this post counts the opening matches for each team, not just those on "opening day." The numbers don't add up perfectly below because an opening game for one team might not be for another team.

Opening Game Records

1 SEA 1 0 0 3 3.00 3 0 3
2 CHV 3 1 1 10 2.00 8 4 4
3 KC 7 4 3 24 1.71 31 26 5
4 CHI 5 3 4 19 1.58 19 14 5
5 DAL 4 4 6 18 1.29 22 21 1
6 DC 5 6 3 18 1.29 22 23 -1
7 LA 4 4 6 18 1.29 18 23 -5
8 HOU 1 1 2 5 1.25 6 6 0
9 SJ 4 5 3 15 1.25 16 18 -2
10 NE 4 5 5 17 1.21 18 18 0
11 NY 4 5 5 17 1.21 18 19 -1
11 CLB 4 5 5 17 1.21 18 19 -1
13 TOR 1 2 0 3 1.00 3 6 -3
14 COL 2 7 5 11 0.79 19 25 -6
15 RSL 0 2
3 3 0.60 3 9

TB 4 2 0 12 2.00 17 13 4

MIA 1 1 2 5 1.25 5 6 -1

Yearly Breakdown

Blue = home game, red = away game.

1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
CHI xxx xxx W W L D W D D L L W D W
CHV xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx L W W D W
HOU xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx W D L D
RSL xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx D L D D L
SJ W D D L L W W W L D xxx xxx L L
SEA xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx W
TOR xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx L L W

TB W W L L W W xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
MIA xxx xxx L D D W xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx

Home Game Percentage

Of course, just looking at those records doesn't tell us the full story. Due to weather issues, some teams have had an unbalanced number of opening day home or away games, as you can see above. Here's a list:

Home Away Home PCT
SEA 1 0 100.0%
DAL 13 1 92.9%
CHV 4 1 80.0%
HOU 3 1 75.0%
KC 10 4 71.4%
LA 10 4 71.4%
CLB 9 5 64.3%
SJ 5 7 41.7%
RSL 2 3 40.0%
NY 5 9 35.7%
DC 4 10 28.6%
COL 3 11 21.4%
CHI 2 10 16.7%
NE 1 13 7.1%
TOR 0 3 0.0%

MIA 4 0 100.0%
TB 5 1 83.3%

Longest Streaks

Most Consecutive Wins

4 KC 2005-08
3 SJ 2001-03

Most Consecutive Losses

The record is 2, which has been done 13 times, including a current streak by San Jose.

Most Years Unbeaten

7 KC 2002-08
6 DAL 2003-08
5 NY 2004-08
5 LA 1996-00
4 CHI 2001-04
4 NE 1997-00

Most Years Winless

11 COL 1996-06
8 NE 1998-05
6 CLB 1999-04
5 LA 2005-09
5 NY 1996-00
4 CHI 2003-06
4 DAL 2001-04
4 DC 2006-09
4 SJ 1997-00
4 SJ 2004-09

SJ's current streak is from 2004-05 and 2008-09.


Friday, March 20, 2009

MLS 2009 Survey Results

Thanks for participating. The results from the similar surveys I did in 2007 and 2008 are linked, if you're interested. This year's survey was posted here, as well as on the MLS General forums at Bigsoccer and Soccerpubs. Thanks to a link from Dan Loney, this survey received more responses than either of the past two.

My intention was to cut off the responses when the first game started, but I forget to check the option which sends you a copy of each survey at the time it's taken. So a few responses may have gotten in after the game started.

MLS 2009 Survey

(337 responses. Percentages are rounded.)

1. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Don Garber is doing as MLS commissioner?

Approve 80%
Disapprove 11%
Unsure 10%

I have asked this question multiple times now:

Apr-07 85-2 +83
Aug-07 87-6 +81
Mar-08 87-3 +84
Nov-08 76-8 +66

Everybody still loves the Don. Speaking of which, great article in the Sports Business Journal this week.

2. Do you approve or disapprove of the job ESPN is doing with their MLS broadcasts?

Approve 44%
Disapprove 34%
Unsure 22%

Third time asking this question (previously phrased as "ESPN2/ABC"):

Apr-07 55-22
Mar-08 53-29
This is actually a more negative response than in either of the past two years, which surprised me a bit. It seems like we as a soccer community have more important things to talk about now. I suspect either the people answering this survey were different than in years past (most likely) or maybe MLS is attracting more fans that they were previously.

Incidentally, a couple days ago I received an ESPN Fan Zone survey on soccer. They asked a ton of questions about their soccer coverage, and it was great to get the chance to tell them what I felt. I posted the questions they asked here.

3. Two years later: Do you approve or disapprove of the signing of David Beckham?

Approve 71%
Disapprove 19%
Unsure 10%


Apr-07 91-4
Mar-08 91-4
The drop from the past two years is expected, but it wasn't as big as I thought it would be. Fans have little regrets when it comes to this decision, and why should they? Most people who are paying close attention to the league realize the benefits of his signing to the league (maybe not if you're a Galaxy fan).

4. Do you feel that MLS as a whole is too "traditional," too "Americanized," or just right?

Too traditional 2%
Too Americanized 32%
Just Right 59%
Unsure 7%


Apr-07 2-24-55

Mar-08 1-30-62


Very little change. The majority of people are pretty happy.

5. For MLS teams, do you prefer "American style" nicknames (Galaxy, Rapids, Wizards) or traditional "soccer names" (United, FC, Real)?

"American style" nicknames 30%
Traditional "soccer names" 47%
Unsure 23%

Again, virtually unchanged from last year's results (27-48-25). I could've provided a "nice mix" option but I like to see people forced to go one way or the other.

6. Assuming that it was feasible, would you prefer a multi-division MLS with promotion and relegation, or an NFL style large league with playoffs?

Multi-division with promotion and relegation 58%
Large league with playoffs 37%
Unsure 5%

This year's results are very consistent (last year: 56-39-5). I really should change the wording of this question to "Assuming that either were feasible." Without getting back into the pro/rel debate, I will say that if the league gets to 20 teams in 2012 that it will certainly come up over and over because 20 is the normal limit for leagues. Should be some interesting expansion speculation at that point.

7. Which team has the nicest soccer-specific stadium?

BMO Field (Toronto) 10%
Columbus Crew Stadium (Columbus) 6%
Dick's Sporting Goods Park (Colorado) 6%
Home Depot Center (Los Angeles) 26%
Pizza Hut Park (Dallas) 2%
Rio Tinto Stadium (Salt Lake) 39%
Toyota Park (Chicago) 12%

The new broom makes a clean sweep, which is pretty hard since it's named after a mining company. Last year the HDC was the clear winner with 43%. DSG Park is off by 10% as the newness wears off. I bet Rio Tinto will drop by at least as much next year too. Part of that because Red Bull Arena will be open, taking away some support.

8. Which foreign signing will have the greatest impact on MLS this season?

Alberto Celades, NY 9%
David Ferreira, DAL 4%
Santiago Hirsig, KC 3%
Dejan Jakovic, DC 5%
Sebastien Le Toux, SEA 4%
Eduardo Lillingston, CHV 1%
Freddie Ljungberg, SEA 22%
Fredy Montero, SEA 45%
Donovan Ricketts, LA 2%
Pablo Vitti, TOR 6%

Montero's off to a good start. Hopefully he fairs better than Marcelo Gallardo who won last year's poll by a 2-1 margin over Claudio Lopez. A season ago, two of the Newcomer of the Year finalists weren't even included; Darren Huckerby arrived midseason while Andre Rocha didn't make my top ten list. If I had to pick someone who was underrated here, I'd say Ferreira. Hirsig a close second.

9. Which American signing will have the greatest impact on MLS this season?

Bobby Convey, SJ 42%
Ty Harden, COL 2%
Andrew Jacobson, DC 1%
Kasey Keller, SEA 40%
Matt Pickens, COL 7%
Steve Purdy, DAL 1%
Tony Sanneh, LA 1%
Zach Scott, SEA 0%
Michael Videira, NE 2%
Cam Weaver, SJ 4%

This didn't include draft choices. There were really only two choices here, and Convey barely edged Keller. I thought there would be more distance between them. I had a hard time finding eight others to include. The last guy I put in was Scott, and he ended up being the only option in any of these questions to get exactly zero votes. But he did start the opener. I also thought Weaver would easily take third, but it's Pickens instead.

10. Who is the best MLS player at this moment in time?

Juan Pablo Angel, NY 16%
David Beckham, LA 1%
Cuauhtemoc Blanco, CHI 3%
Jimmy Conrad, KC 0%
Kenny Cooper, DAL 1%
Dwayne De Rosario, TOR 6%
Landon Donovan, LA 33%
Shalrie Joseph, NE 5%
Freddie Ljungberg, SEA 2%
Guillermo Barros Schelotto, CLB 33%

Schelotto won by exactly one vote, 111-110. First he beats Donovan for the MVP and now this. Can you guess who won this question last year? It was De Rosario, coming off back to back titles with the Dynamo. Donovan came in 6th and Schelotto was 8th. Beckham went from 9% to only 1%. I wonder if people even count him as an MLS player any more? I wanted to include Sacha Kljestan and Javier Morales but I was limited to 10 options. I had to have a defender in there even if I knew he would do poorly (one vote).

Previous Surveys

Labels: , , , , , , ,