Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Josh Williams (talent+romanticism)

Chad Marshall took part in last Sunday's Reserve Game in NY which points towards a possible start this weekend in Montreal. He is likely to replace (Akron, OH born) Josh Williams.

Williams has become a favored player here at Helltown. In fact, I've got non-soccer watching co-workers and friends regularly asking me about how "the Cleveland guy" is doing (I've also heard "the BronBron guy" and "JWill" even "Ash's boyfriend" (long story)). No doubt that there is an incredible amount of affection for everything Cleveland around these parts and those that have that affection gravitate towards things from that area.

In a way, it's almost as if Williams is manufacturing mistake. Like a product of an Akron factory that normally only stamps quarter panels for the Chevy Cruze inadvertently stamping something that belongs on a Cadillac Ciel prototype.

Now, the guy Williams is filling in for is a Crew Legend and two time MLS defensive player of the year (Chad Marshall) who, in the off season, signed a contract that keeps him in Columbus till the end of his career.

There is no question that, when fully recovered, Marshall will start so the only remaining questions will be who starts next to him and who should start next to him.

First question is easy; Julius James will fill the other center back spot. The 2nd question? Who should start there? Let's take a look...

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) since the start of 2011

50 : Team Max
40 : Chad
34 : Julius
10 : Josh

GOALS AGAINST PER GAME (when starting)
0.80 : Josh
1.12 : Julius
1.20 : Team Avg.
1.33 : Chad

GOALS FOR PER GAME (when starting)
1.20 : Josh
1.16 : Team Avg.
1.15 : Julius
1.15 : Chad

1.60 : Josh
1.43 : Team Avg.
1.38 : Julius
1.28 : Chad

Summary Points:
• Josh has started in 20% of games since 2011 start
• Josh leads both Julius and Chad in every major KPI
• Josh leads team averages in every major KPI
• Chad is last in every major KPI


Chad Marshall is making $310k a year. He is the highest paid player on the Crew and 21st highest paid in Major League Soccer (in 95th percentile). As a defensive player, he is only behind Rafa Marquez in salary.

Julius James pulls in $100k a year. That puts him at 195th in the league in terms of salary. 13th on the Crew.

Josh Williams makes $44k a year... tied for 2nd lowest contract in the league (143 players make at or below him, ahh MLS you stifling "stack ranking" bastard).


It only gets down right strange for Marshall if we just look at 2012 stats. Were he not Captain, I wouldn't put this much weight into such a small sample set... Chad's 7 starts saw the Crew only go for 2 wins, 4 loses and 1 draw. Williams 10 starts have seen 4 wins and 4 drawn, only 2 losses. You could even argue that Williams has seen better competition. All KPIs point in Williams favor to start somewhere on the first XI at the very least.

The Romanticism here comes from what Josh Williams is. He's a taller, athletic kid who looks like he belongs under center calling go routes on snowy Sunday afternoons off Lake Erie... or batting cleanup for the Tribe on hot summer afternoons... or bombing three's from the two spot in THE Q as the boys push for the playoffs. He is exactly the kind of athlete that the American Midwest creates time and time again for the major sports in this country, it's just that this time one has found soccer.

The future growth of this sport in this area is not in the teenagers filling stands on Saturday nights right now, but it is those same teenagers 20 years from now who are Jack swigging, pot smoking - proud Iron Workers Union - hellraisers filling the stands and taking their kids out to the game.

Williams, to me, represents the kind of player MLS needs more of. He doesn't, nor will he ever have his name in lights across some marquee on some 65k seat stadium. Instead, he'll be the guy that puts in 90' shifts required to guide a team to a championship and then shake the hands of the folks that gave him the opportunity afterwards.

It could be said that he represents an area that just lost power for a week and didn't loot nor riot nor scream for outside help but will take the power company guys out for beers after their 16 hour shift in 100 degree heat.

"He's what makes US Soccer have a chance of being special," is the the the quote I got from a non-soccer, daughter of a lifelong Browns fan and season ticket holder, regarding Josh Williams.

"Browns Season Ticket Holder" has 'special persons' status here at Helltown Beer.

Happy July 4th.

Link to the conversation included in the illustration above.

Illustration above includes: Lou Groza (place kicker and offensive lineman for the Cleveland Browns, born in Martin's Ferry, Ohio), Paul Brown (Cleveland Browns Coach, 1946-1962, born in Massillon, Ohio,, Otto Graham (Cleveland Browns, 1946-1955), Bob Feller (Cleveland Indians Legend) and Joshua Williams (Columbus Crew 2010- , born in Akron, Ohio)

No comments: