Wednesday, January 8, 2020

USL Best: Ball Winning Playmakers

This is a look at USL Championship midfield players that are good defensively as well as strong in the attack. I realize that this is being very specific, as opposed to just looking at "best passer" or "most goals," but ball-winning / defensively active midfield players are an extremely rare beast. Especially in the United States.

Usually what you see in MLS or USL are mids that are either good at winning the ball and then distribution OR attacking activity. I was looking for both here.

The Defensive categories I took into consideration (per 90):
1. Interceptions
2. Tackles Won
3. Duels Won
4. Ariel Duels Won

Attacking Activity considered (per 90):
1. Assists
2. Key Passes
3. Shots on Target
4. Non-Penalty Goals + Assists

After ranking every player in the USLC, I teased out the players with the best average rank between my Defensive and Attacking activities.

Here are the highest-rated midfield players:

NameAgePOSValueHighest LevelNationality
Eryk Williamson22CM342kMLSUnited States
Carl Haworth30RW285kUSLCCanada/Wales
Wal Fall27CM257kUSLCGermany/Senegal
Leo Fernandes28LM228kMLSBrazil
Harry Forrester29LW314kEng. ChampEngland
Kris Tyrpak27RW200kMLSUnited States
Marcus Epps25RW342kMLSUnited States

Eryk Williamson0.642.120.60
Carl Haworth0.502.030.70
Wal Fall0.251.471.00
Leo Fernandes0.492.460.60
Harry Forrester0.331.430.70
Kris Tyrpak0.750.641.20
Marcus Epps0.321.431.20

NameStrength 1Strength 2Strength 3
Eryk WilliamsonAssistsKey PassesOverall Attacking
Carl HaworthKey Passes
Wal FallDuels WonOverall DefenderGood Passer
Leo FernandesAssistsKey PassesOverall Defender
Harry ForresterDuels WonTackles Won
Kris TyrpakNPG+A per 90Shots on TargetTackles Won
Marcus EppsShots on TargetDuels Won

Eryk Williamson22CMDCU Ac., Maryland, PDXII/Portland Timbers
Carl Haworth30RW2012 MLS Pick, with Ottawa Fury from 13-19
Wal Fall27CM10 Years in German ac./lower level teams, J. Jones cousin
Leo Fernandes28LMWith Phil Union '13-17, Tampa since
Harry Forrester29LWA decade in England/Scotland
Kris Tyrpak27RWin MLS 2014-15, USL since
Marcus Epps25RWSigned with Phil in 17. NYRB loaned him to RBII / Memphis 901

ERYK WILLIAMSON is clearly at the head of the class here. His age combined with his activity in attacking has made him a player that Portland seems to like, but not want to fully commit to.

If you are looking to add a rock-solid overall midfield player, I'd inquire about Wal Fall, Harry Forrester, Kris Tyrpak. Picking up a late 20s journeyman probably isn't on the menu for most but Fall and Forrester have strong pro resumes and would hit the ground running. Even at the MLS level, they could contribute.

I'll have more on this topic soon. This was just a look at mids. Next up is Ball Winning Forwards (USL has many).

Any questions, contact me at:

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