Thursday, February 13, 2014

MLS Carryover Minutes (early, East)

One of the things MLS observers have noticed over the past 2-3 years is that just bringing back players from the previous season correlates with some success. Makes sense in a league that is structured in such a way as Major League Soccer where oftentimes a player a team wants to keep has to be dismissed because of roster rules.

About once a week during the offseason I'll pull down the rosters of MLS teams. I use a combination of what teams have on their official league site and the folks that like to update wikipedia. It's loose but the best we have right now.

Most MLS teams will be cutting their rosters down to size by the end of day tomorrow, so lets take an early look at who will look a lot like they did last year. I'll use round numbers since it is very fluid right now.

90% : SKC
85% : MTL
85% : NER
80% : PHI
80% : HOU

75% : CHI
70% : CLB
70% : NY
60% : TFC
55% : DCU

It's pretty clear that MLS teams must have gotten the memo on keeping a squad together. Last couple years 60% retention would have been top 5.

With that, something else I'm tracking is sides that are returning MLS minutes and not just minutes with the same team. I value MLS minutes because each league (especially a physical one like MLS) has their own quarks. Want to make the playoffs in an ever expanding league? Find players experienced in the league.

95% : DCU
95% : SKC
90% : CHI
85% : NER
85% : PHI

85% : MTL
85% : HOU
80% : TFC
80% : CLB
75% : NY

Total league mins means 33660. That's 34 matches x 90 mins x 11 positions.

DC used just about every mechanism possible to bring in experienced league players to go from last to first. I'll be keeping an eye on my hometown team for that, if nothing else. They are sort of a Frankenstein team that, if they do well, will be mimicked for the next five years.

As for the others, I like what KC, New England, Chicago, Montreal and Houston are doing as far as putting themselves in a position to succeed.

NY depends on how interested Henry is. I know he signed a TV deal to commentate during the World Cup. So there's that. Toronto is banking on talent but reminder: it's a World Cup year. Even if they are in the race their star players will be preoccupied.


MLS teams, at least in the East, that are bringing back this many players means the quality might actually be slightly better... were it not for the World Cup.

Then, of course, next year is more league expansion. One day we'll get there.

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