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Looking at value in two key MLS men recently back from injury: George John and Osvaldo Alonso

Jul 20, 2013, 3:31 PM EDT

Real Salt Lake v FC Dallas Getty Images

Backward as it may seem, the true measure of individual value in sports is often in how the team goes in the tank without their key men.

Sure, it’s more fun for supporters to gauge value in what the key elements actually bring when they are around.

But to truly know their value, look at how things might fall completely to pieces without them.

One we talked about a little earlier is Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso. As we told you in the preview of Seattle’s match today, the Sounders record is measurably better with their Cuban ball hawk around. Seattle is a fairly sickly 2-4-1 without Alonso in the lineup, but a rather healthy 5-3-2 with him.

And what about George John (pictured) and Dallas? The big center back was having a fantastic season around FC Dallas Stadium before a hamstring issue began exacting an ongoing toll.

He missed games in May, returned  shortly in June but has been out for the last four contest. Dallas’ record during that time: 0-2-2 with seven goals allowed.

Big D Soccer did the digging here, reporting that Dallas is 9-2-4 with 14 goals conceded when John is in the lineup. That record is how Dallas climbed to top of the West for much of the late spring. When he doesn’t play, the goals concession total shoots up to 13 in seven games, or about double the rate of strikes allowed. And that’s how Dallas has fallen so quickly lately.

That report goes on to talk about John’s ability to organize the back line. But perhaps understated is that Dallas’ other starting figures in defense are either quiet, steady type (Matt Hedges and Zach Loyd) or figures still quite limited in their English speaking abilities. As good as goalkeeper Raul Fernandez has been this year, he speaks very little of the language, and that is hardly ideal.

John is expected to be back in FC Dallas’ lineup tonight when the Texans go north of the border to face Montreal.

  1. hildezero - Jul 20, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    Both John and especially Alonso needs to be called up the national team.

    • talgrath - Jul 21, 2013 at 2:11 AM

      Alonso, unfortunately, is ineligible. Alonso is capped with the Cuban team, FIFA does not make exceptions for players that defected as far being capped by a national team. The only way for Alonso to play for the USMNT is for Cuba to say it is okay; I don’t see them doing a favor for someone that defected to a state they consider their enemy.

  2. talgrath - Jul 21, 2013 at 2:19 AM

    You never notice the value of a defensive type of player until they aren’t there anymore; with a forward or attacking midfielder you can count the assists and goals and it is measurable when they are gone. It’s hard to really measure the value of a defensive player in statistics, you could try to track clean tackles that got the ball vs misses and foul tackles, you can try to track dispossession rate when one on one with opponents, but none of those stats tell the full story. Great defensive players don’t just dispossess opponents, they cut off routes and make people doubt themselves, force them to abandon runs in favor of a pass that might be intercepted. Great defensive players help organize the rest of the defense and give confidence to the offense that if they go forward and the play gets broken up, the defense can stop the counter attack.

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