Friday, November 23, 2012

The Crew Forward Market

Now that I've looked at Crew Defenders and Midfielders, it's time to take a look at the Crew's attacking group. Just as in the last post I'm going to touch on which players are a hit and which are a miss in regards to contract.

You'd figure that writing about the Forward position might be the most exciting, but it really isn't. Why this is probably has a lot to do with the Columbus Crew switching to a single forward attack over the two that they preferred all of last year and at the start of this year.

The rise of the 4-2-3-1 as Robert Warzycha's primary formation comes from the lack of any target man. The injury to Tommy Heinemann, impatience with Olman Vargas and generally 'rookie-ness' of Aaron Schoenfeld almost forced the oh so mighty hand of Warzycha to go with what was his secondary formation (the: 4-2-3-1) last year.

Since that formation change - the club rode the Jairo Arrieta train from summer on. What that means is that there isn't a whole lot to hang our hats on here at the "forward" position. All is not lost though. How about we look at it from a "attacking" position perspective.


Federico Higuain
Value: $195k, Contract: $162k
Notes: Contract was cut in half to adjust for MLS rules regarding players starting half way through the season.

Emilio Renteria
Value: $163k, Contract: $134k
Notes: Renteria's Goal p90 rate tanked this year but most of that was due to the change in his role. Renteria took his positional change really well and actually earned three assists.

Jairo Arrieta
Value: $134k, Contract: $113k
Notes: Arrieta is another contract I cut in half due to MLS rules on players coming in halfway through the season.


Olman Vargas (released)
Value: $79k, Contract: $175k
Notes: Olman contract option was not picked up by the Crew.


Turns out that even my modest predictions for him back in February were too lofty. I predicted 3-5 goals, no assists and 1200 minutes of playing time with a scoring rate of 0.12. Turns out I was dead on the scoring rate. In MLS he got 0.13 but only half the 1200 minutes I foresaw. Also, he registered 0 (nowt) assists, just as I thought (mu-hahaha).

On other thing I tried to predict was his salary. I called it at $140k. Turns out it was slightly higher; $175k. What's frustrating to me is that armed with only public information I was able to predict what this player would do and the salary he would make.

Vargas was the only real loss the Crew took at the forward position. In fact, the forward position was the only group that was in the black.

It's surprising to me is that for all the fan discontent with the Crew attacking capabilities the players classified by Stats, Inc as Forwards actually did very well (in terms of value). Much better, in fact, then both Defenders and Midfielders.

-$186k: MIDFIELD
+$127k: FORWARDS


Justin Meram and Aaron Schoenfeld are underpaid when comparing what they did to the rest of Major League Soccer. I value Meram at $169k and Schoenfeld at $80k. Both are clear values based on 2012 production. The earned well above their current salaries.


Robert Warzycha will ride Higuain and Arrieta till the wheels come off. Problem will be - the wheels will inevitably come off. You can't win in this league with just one playmaker and one opportunistic forward. Banking an entire season on that combo is league table suicide. Aaron Schoenfeld and Tommy Heinemann will have to play a role in order for this team to make some noise in 2013. Look at the best teams in this league. Hell. Any league.

Simply put: You cannot survive on a poacher (Arrieta) and an advanced playmaking forward (Higuain) to create all your goals over a 34+ match season.


Of the players that saw time, Ethan Finlay and Ben Speas are the only other players I haven't talked about. I like both of them. It appears that they will be spending time in unnatural spots. Speas seems to be destine for the Left Mid spot and Finlay? Anywhere else under King Warzycha. I like him anywhere that allows him to run.

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