Right Back, Right Back, Right Back, Left

So, I put out to the world via twitter the following: “I’m curious, in soccer, how would one evaluate the performance of a full back? Clearances? Free Balls Won? Assists? Created Chances?” Of course I got an overwhelming response… not really. I get that it’s really difficult to asses a defensive player. But the problem is when you look at two specific examples… let’s say Justin Morrow of San Jose and Tony Beltran of Real Salt Lake there is one that is better than the other. They obviously have good qualities but what are they? What are good qualities to look for? I ask not because of some deeper reasoning, or in effort of trick or trap. But so that we might actually find something and start working towards. I feel like no one has answers because no one is every asking the questions.

There is so very little information out there to “mine” when it comes to data. But while there isn’t much, there is “some” out there. Though those data sets are incomplete they should still be able to help us make comparisons. When you look at both Marc Burch and Leo Gonzalez it’s obvious that one is slow and one is fast. But does being slow keep you from being adequate? I think most people, if given the choice between the two, would choose Gonzalez over Burch. I would. He’s a physical, strong back that has grown to be mediocre in supporting the attack. His speed, however, is obviously a liability at times and it’s been a cause of frustration to supporters.

I look at Adam Johansson right now and I do wonder with the money that he is owed does it make sense to bring in someone like Wilmer Crisanto to replace him. What happens if a one-year loan costs the Sounders around the same as it does for Mario Martinez (right around 50k)? That would be an incredible amount of savings and it would make a lot of sense as to why the Sounders are interested. But does it make sense to replace Johansson? Was he good for the Sounders? I think most people would agree that he’s stepped in nicely in lieu of James Riley last year. But does that really make him good? Was he effective during his time?

These are all pertinent questions that should

Looking at the Timbers newly acquired full back Michael Harrington I wonder how he’s going to be. There is a lot of general talk about him. But that’s just it. It’s all general. How do we know what he is good at it? What he’s bad at? I mean the guy had 877 minutes on the pitch which OPTA recorded. It can’t be too terribly hard to take all that information and put together some type of reasonable analytical thoughts together.

Just a bunch of just random thoughts this afternoon.


Topics: James Riley, Justin Morrow, Leo Gonzalez, Marc Burch, Tony Beltran

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