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Wednesday 31 July 2013

First Person View - MLS All-Star Game: The Future Looks Bright (All Youth Teams for Each Conference)

    With everyone suitably aflutter for this evening’s All-Star Game between MLS and AS Roma, I figured I’d kill an hour or so in the process of updating my club roster database – yes, that is something I do (for posterity) – by looking at what the teams may look like if restricted to young players.

    Some have wasted time fretting over the highly-publicized, commercial exercise that is the MLS All-Star Game – did they pick the right players? Who will win? What does a win or loss mean for the league? – But relax; it’s just a bit of fun.

    So - with the caveat that this is a very unscientific process based solely on my own observations and that I will not be investing the time to produce actual stats - what would the game look like if East played West and players had to be 24 year of age or younger.

The East

football formations

    Notes on the diagram – I had to put both Rosell and Kitchen in; same with Fagundez; wanted to get Porter in on the left, but Osorio has been better, even if he doesn’t play on that side – McInerney likes to drift and Brovsky can cover a ton of ground, so Osorio can tuck in-field anyways.

Goalkeepers: Joe Bendik (Toronto – 24), Zac MacMath (Philadelphia – 21), Sean Johnson (Chicago – 24), Bill Hamid (DC – 22).

Full-Backs: Andrew Farrell (New England – 21), Jeb Brovsky (Montreal – 24), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston – 22), Chad Barson (Columbus – 22), Jalil Anibaba (Chicago – 24), Richard Eckersley (Toronto – 24).

Centre-Backs: Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia – 22), Doneil Henry (Toronto – 20), Austin Berry (Chicago – 24), Ethan White (DC – 22), Conor Shanosky (DC – 21).

Defensive Midfielders: Oriol Rosell (KC – 21), Perry Kitchen (DC - 23), Scott Caldwell (New England - 22), Matias Laba (Toronto – 21), Wil Trapp (Columbus – 20).

Midfielders: Kelyn Rowe (New England – 21), Jonathan Osorio (Toronto – 21), Kyle Porter (DC – 23), Warren Creavalle (Houston – 22), Antoine Hoppenot (Philadelphia – 22), Felipe (Montreal – 22), Ben Speas (Columbus – 22), Andres Romero (Montreal – 23), Danny Cruz (Philadelphia – 23), Leo Fernandes (Philadelphia – 21), Roger Torres (Philadelphia – 22).

Forwards: Jack McInerney (Philadelphia – 20, Diego Fagundez (New England – 18), Giles Barnes (Houston – 24), Juan Agudelo (New England – 20), Will Bruin (Houston – 23), Soony Saad (KC – 20).

The West

football formations

    Notes on the diagram: so many forward to choose from in the West, while is a paucity of defensive midfielders.  I really wanted to leave Gonzalez out, he hasn’t been sharp this season, but figured there was no valid reason to rate anyone over him – that said, those others listed below would likely have surpassed him with a few more matches under their belt.

Goalkeepers: Clint Irwin (Colorado – 24), Brian Rowe (LA – 24).

Full-Backs: Chris Klute (Colorado – 23), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle – 20), Greg Cochrane (LA – 22).

Centre-Backs: Shane O’Neill (Colorado – 19), Omar Gonzalez (LA – 24), Andrew Jean-Baptiste (Portland – 21), Matt Hedges (Dallas – 23), Carlos Salcedo (Salt Lake – 19), Walker Zimmerman (Dallas – 20).

Defensive Midfielders: Gershon Koffie (Vancouver – 21), Servando Carrasco (Seattle – 24)

Midfielders: Dillon Powers (Colorado – 22), Luis Gil (Salt Lake -19), Juninho (LA – 24), Rafael Baca (San Jose – 23), Carlos Alvarez (Chivas – 20), Fabian Castillo (Dallas – 21), Kalif Alhassan (Portland – 22), Tristan Bowen (Chivas – 22).

Forwards: Olmes Garcia (Salt Lake – 20); Darlington Nagbe (Portland – 23), Russell Teibert (Vancouver – 20), Deshorn Brown (Colorado – 22), Jose Villarreal (LA - 19), Joao Plata (Salt Lake – 21), Darren Mattocks (Vancouver – 22), Gyasi Zardes (LA - 21), Kekuta Manneh (Vancouver – 18), Jack McBean (LA – 18).

    Only a few players from the actual All-Star team qualify – Omar Gonzalez, Jack McInerney, and DeAndre Yedlin – not too surprising, as half of the reason for this match is to attract foreign eyes with the glamourous names of designated players.

    Lots of young talent in this league and a few general observations emerge:

    New York has nobody – Conor Lade and Ryan Meara have been sidelined with injuries – perhaps indicative of their failings to build a well-rounded team, while Los Angeles, despite their plethora of experienced talent, always find space for quality youngsters who contribute. One team has won championships, the other has not.

    Shockingly, there is a lack of young goalkeeping talent in the league, yes there are several worthy of nomination, but given this is North America, as bastion of goalkeeping – what with our hand-eye co-ordination – there should really be more.

    Perhaps the success of Clint Irwin, a virtual unknown prior to his emergence when injury hit the Rapids, indicates that the talent is still there, but chances to flourish.

    Philadelphia is an incredibly young team – they’ve always been that way since their inception; watch for them in the coming years. Colorado, New England, Vancouver, Salt Lake, and DC too – all to varying degrees.

    Was disappointed to leave out Montreal’s local youth, but they have not seen enough time - I may have a bias towards Canadian teams.

    Come to think of it, it may not be a bad idea for the league to have a Young Stars match between the two conferences.

    Would give exposure to the top talents – much like the Generation Adidas tours do – and would be pretty fun; plus a good number of those mentioned above do not play every match, so the extra time on the pitch, against quality, if equally inexperienced players, would do them well.

    Take Jack McBean and Gyasi Zardes for a second, they’ve both looked promising, but not yet spectacular – Zardes’ pass to himself was special – but it is too easy to forget they are playing against men in MLS.

    Give them a match against their peers and a truer picture of their talents may emerge, providing a glimpse of things to come.

Did I miss anyone? Which conference do you think would win? What would an all-league team look like and could they give the actual All-Star team a game?

    The future looks bright.

Edit: Forgot to remark that including Roger Torres was a bit of a snark - I've been a big fan of his since seeing him live in an impressive cameo in Toronto a few years ago and am scratching my head as to why he continues to get absolutely no time. Free Roger Torres!


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    Compared to the league all-star team I prefer the original, very cool with their football team shirts

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