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Major League Soccer positional Top Tens: RIGHT MIDFIELDERS

Feb 25, 2013, 2:10 PM EDT

Houston Dynamo v Columbus Crew Getty Images


First things first: Landon Donovan would be at the top of this list, and easily so – but he’s not eligible! Feel free to check back April-ish.

As we roll through our positional rankings, the outside midfield position gets tricky; the players manning these flank midfield spots aren’t as sharply defined as, say, center backs, goalkeepers or outright strikers.

(Heck, even Donovan could be classified as a Top Ten at three different spots. By the way, who cares what the guy is doing to the LA Galaxy — look how this rascally troublemaker is mucking up our rankings!)

Plus, an “outside” midfielder in a 4-3-3 is mostly a central mid who leans to one side. In those arrangements, the highest right-sided presence is more of an “outside midfielder.” So, apologies if a couple of names here don’t qualify as flank factors in your book.

Disclaimers aside, here is how we see the league’s Top Ten in right-sided midfielders going into Major League Soccer’s 18th season.

(now revised … reflecting Mauro Rosales as a right-sided midfielder rather than an attacking midfielder)

1. Houston Dynamo’s Oscar Boniek Garcia

2. Columbus Crew’s Eddie Gaven (pictured) >

No, the Crew’s longtime Steady Eddie is not a name brand, not exactly, anyway. But he delivers reliably in a system that demands so much from that spot. And several times a season he goes from work-a-day to outright difference maker.

3. Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi >

SKC’s U.S. international can certainly play interior roles, where he has been found most frequently in Peter Vermes’ 4-3-3. But Zusi usually finds himself outside when national team opportunities arise, and given Kei Kamara’s departure (a tough gap to fill), we can probably expect to see the skillful attacker leaning further to the flank in SKC’s personnel alignment.

4. San Jose Earthquakes’ Marvin Chavez

5. Seattle Sounders’ Mauro Rosales

6. D.C. United’s Nick DeLeon

7. FC Dallas’ Jackson

8. Portland Timbers’ Kalif Alhassan >

This is where we see a wide man in a 4-3-3 stand in as a flank midfielder. There certainly are tracking duties and other defensive chores with these guys. It’s not like they get to stand on the sidelines waiting for their next chance to dribble and cross.

9. New England Revolution’s Kelyn Rowe

10. Philadelphia’s Sebastian Le Toux >

He can sometimes lose tactical discipline, but that little dimple may be mitigated in 2013 since his defensive duty will be slightly reduced; Le Toux will probably be more of a right-sided forward in John Hackworth’s new 4-3-3. Plus, you always get the dependable two-way work from Le Toux.

(MORE: the entire roster of ProSoccerTalk’s Major League Soccer previews and predictions)

  1. pensfan603 - Feb 25, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    Zusi is 2, Rosales 3, Chavez 4, and Gaven 5.

  2. Steve Davis - Feb 25, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    I’ve been saying Gaven was underrated for a year or more. Gotta “rate” him now.

  3. east96st - Feb 25, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    Thanks for showing Gavin some love, Steve. Grossly overlooked player who just works harder than anyone else for 90 minutes plus, game after game after game. I really don’t understand why he doesn’t get more recognition – even in Columbus. Plus, he does it all while essentially getting mugged. I’ve never seen any player in the MLS get hit more and get fewer calls. If anyone hit Landon the way they hit Eddie, they would be shown a red. Eddie doesn’t even get a whistle. Hard to believe this will be his 10th year in the MLS.

  4. Steve Davis - Feb 25, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    If he was in a market that got more attention (D.C., for instance, or take your pick of Pacific NW clubs) we’d be singing his praises every week.

  5. tylerbetts - Feb 25, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    I love Eddie Gaven. I don’t know that I’d rate him higher than Zusi, but I do love him. Maybe for what he brings to an MLS team, you can argue better value, better piece, etc. For my money, he’s the best “glue guy” in the league – those guys that do a little bit of everything, don’t do anything at a level that makes you say “wow”, but always find a way to make their team better, and can fit in with a host of lineups, tactics, and formations.

  6. ravegreenstreet - Feb 25, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    This list is awful.

    • east96st - Feb 25, 2013 at 9:09 PM

      Submit a better one.

      • mvktr2 - Feb 26, 2013 at 9:09 PM

        Post such as the one above are nothing more than internet graffiti … well actually some graffiti is artistic, this is just tagging.

        If you’re going to post please offer something. If not I suggest such drivel be removed from PST.

  7. Nicholas Fedora - Feb 26, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    I’m surprised to not see Patrick Nyarko on this list. He’s one of the more dangerous set up guys in the league and dangerous on the dribble. His defensive work rate is really high too.

  8. mvktr2 - Feb 26, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    To me the E Gavins of the soccer world are what make a league what it is. Over the years of watching MLS I’ve come to appreciate his skill and work rate. However #2 is a bit high for me.

    I’m tempted to place Rosales #2, however he’s as reliable as Freddy Montero’s scoring touch come playoff time. I love the guy, he’s one of the best in MLS, but after this past year’s disappearing act in the playoffs and the so-so performance the year before I’m not sure I’m willing to place him #2 in a league where the playoffs are so vital to measuring success.

    I like Zusi and have high hopes for him. I simply want more from him more consistently.

    Add to this the fact that Boniek Garcia has played all of 1/2 of a season and this is a really fluid position and a rather touch call.


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