Thursday, November 29, 2012

2013 Crew: Doomed to be Average

Ain't no man can avoid being born average, but there ain't no man got to be common. - Satchel Paige

Looking at the past two years there is clear evidence to support exhausting all resources to keep as many players together as possible. This is of course challenging as Major League Soccer salary cap restrictions work against consistency.

Back in October I took a look at roster turnover on each club. What I found was that successful teams in 2012 retained players from their 2011 roster. It's not just a case of good teams keeping good players, either. San Jose topped the league this year after being a bottom feeder in 2011. You would've thought that they flipped their roster to improve this year, instead it's just the opposite. They had the 3rd highest player retention rate in the league. 60% of the Earthquake players that saw minutes in 2012 also saw time in 2011.

The team retaining the most talent from 2011 to 2012? MLS Cup co-participant, Houston Dynamo (67%).

What I've found is that retaining and playing >54% of the same players year over year greatly increases success in the league.

54% : Top Half of Table (53% AVG)
45% : Bottom Half of Table (43% AVG)

• Only three teams in the top nine were under 50% retention (NY, CHI, SEA).

• Only ONE team in the bottom half was above 50% (FCD)

The dust hasn't settled on the Crew offseason yet but right now, at best, the Crew have retained 15 players for the 2013 season that were on the team at the start of 2012. 50% puts them right in the middle of the table. If I subtract Aaron Horton due to him not seeing a minute of MLS time (in keeping with October post) the Crew drop to 47% retention. Removing Ben Speas' appearance in the last game takes the club down to 43%.

Unless you have one of the best players in a generation on your team you will likely be out of the playoff with a 43% retention rate of players seeing time in both last year and this year.

Has the Crew already relegated themselves to the middle of the 2013 table? My honest answer to that is "yes". Of course there is still a lot of time between now and the end of next year and there could possibly be re-signings (recommended).

CAVEAT: If I've learned anything in this league it's that MLS likes to tinker and that opens the door for crazy. That said; No expansion team this year should allow teams to keep more players together thus (fingers crossed) improve the overall quality of play in the league.


MLS changes and modifies rules constantly. There seems to be a strong movement to build "Homegrown Talent" with some of the clubs right now. Brian Bliss and company have really grabbed hold of this trend (see more at Top Drawer Soccer) and this year seems to be shaping up as the YEAR OF THE HOMEGROWN (Trapp, Weit and Barson for the Crew). Some of the cuts this year might be in anticipation of a trio of local players joining the club.

Here is the list of % players retained by club and listed by rank (descending 1-19) on the final 2012 MLS table.

60% : San Jose
60% : Sporting KC
54% : D.C.
30% : New York
61% : Real Salt Lake
44% : Chicago
48% : Seattle
50% : Los Angeles
67% : Houston
46% : Columbus
45% : Vancouver
- : Montreal
59% : FC Dallas
45% : Colorado
38% : Philadelphia
39% : New England
45% : Portland
28% : Chivas USA
48% : Toronto FC

One of the first things I'll be doing when predicting table in February is comparing rosters year over year.

Some good reading out there for those looking to make sense of offseason club moves.

1. Salary Cap Realities Harsh For Seattle Sounders, David Clark.

2. Real Salt Lake see more players victimized by MLS salary cap and roster policies, "denz"

The wise are instructed by reason, average minds by experience, the stupid by necessity and the brute by instinct. - Cicero
One cannot develop taste from what is of average quality but only from the very best. - Goethe

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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