Certain players’ contribution goes beyond stat sheets and what appears in the extended highlights. The hardcore fans from each team know them. They are the Most Irreplaceable Players (MIP). Not every club has one, and they may not be all-stars, but they are essential to success.
An obvious example this year is Thierry Henry, however last season every New York Red Bulls supporter recognized that their season hinged on Colombian centerback Jamison Olave’s presence in the starting XI. In the 2013 season the Supporters’ Shield winners were 0-4-2 including a loss in the second leg on playoffs against Houston without Olave.
Here is the list of the 2014 MIP:
Chad Marshall – The nationally televised 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy highlighted the importance of Marshall’s to Seattle. The Sounders are conceding 1.36 goals per goal this season. In the three games without him: 0 wins, 2 losses, 1 draw and 2 GA average. Seattle is built to play fast and outscore opponents, the 10-year MLS veteran is a counter balance to the formula. While Ozzie Alonso aggressively looks to create havoc in the midfield by creating turnovers and coming in late to overload the attack, Marshall sits deep as the final line of defense directing the action in front of him.
Mauro Diaz – FC Dallas jumped out to a 5-2-1 start this season, during the 9 games Diaz missed with a knee injury: 1-5-3. Óscar Pareja did not have an answer for how to replace the 23-year-old creative midfielder. Eventfully, Dallas figured out how to get results without him. Dallas is unbeaten over their last nine, as Diaz began to start returning to the lineup. Diaz did not play in the most recent 5-0 over San Jose. This may be an indication that Pareja found out how to win without Diaz. It would be wise not to jump to conclusions, the only victories against Western Conference playoff team were against Vancouver and Colorado twice.
Bobby Burling – Chivas USA are 6-4-4 with Burling in the lineup, at 1.57 points per game that’s better than the 5th place team in the West. Without the 29-year-old centerback, Chivas is 0-7-2, with only a single clean sheet in his absence. Chivas’ summer collapse was due in no small piece to Burling injuring his right medial meniscus, only compounded by Carlos Bocanegra missing four-straight with a concussion. In a season with weak backline play, solid veterans are a precious commodity.
This Week’s Throw-In:
- This week we will truly see how mid-week CONCACAF Champions Leagues will impact the Major League Soccer season. Three MLS teams travel this week. Portland will travel more than 2,500 miles to play Alpha United FC in Georgetown, Guyana. Sporting Kansas City heads to Estelí, Nicaraguan to face Real Estelí the winner of seven-straight Primera División titles. FAS will host the Montreal Impact in Santa Ana, El Salvador after Montreal took the first match 3-1 in Montreal. It’s not the games but the travel that will get you.
- On the Homegrown podcast, one of our final questions was “who will lead in goals on September 1st?” The obvious answer was Bradley Wright-Phillips, however it appears all three of the goal leaders hit a bit of a slump. Erick Torres is goalless in 4 weeks after scoring in 6 straight games. BWP has 1 goal in 3 games, and yes when you are average .81 goal per game we can call it a slump. Finally, before Dom Dwyer had a brace from the spot last week he hadn’t scored in 5 games. Joao Plata has the heat kicks right now with 5 goals in 8 games, but with only 11 goals he’s too far behind to threaten for the golden boot.