David Falk has followed soccer in the Puget Sound region since 1974. This blog covers Sounders FC, local college soccer, Seattle Wolves FC, Tacoma Tide FC and Kitsap Pumas. Send tips or comments to: goalseattle@gmail.com
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Seattle Soccer Examiner

Seattle Soccer Examiner

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Player Ratings Show that 6 Players are Ready to Step Up

Guest blogger Dave Clark takes a look at how Seattle Soccer Show's Mati Bishop's player ratings could indicate which USL players are ready to make the jump to Sounders FC and Major League Soccer.

Of course there are caveats, some very large IFS. Let's address those first.

The biggest issue is, who is the Seattle Soccer Show and why should we trust their ratings?

Mati Bishop has been writing and speaking about pro soccer for several years, including a few in the booth for the USL Sounders. He has handled the primary duties as the player rater, but consider his role in the booth he has been following the game as close as anyone this past year.
Matt Gaschk is sportswriter for the P-I and a producer at KJR-AM Seattle.

Neither is a neophyte.

How do we know these ratings are close to what Hanauer and Henderson feel about the players?

Quite simple we don't. We can't know, but we can make some connections, we can take as large a sample set as possible, and guess. That's what people on the outside looking in always have to do.

Taking those two large caveats into account, let's look at how the four players who will be on MLS clubs next year were rated in their performances with the USL Sounders this year.

The highest rated was Sanna Nyassi who averaged a 6.42, capped by his 9 point first leg playoff match v. Montreal.
Ciaran O'Brien had a 5.83 in his limited time.
Sebastian Le Toux had a 5.41.
Nik Besagno had a 5.31.
When adjusted for playing time those players averaged a 5.63

If that is considered the benchmark the following players should be given a very serious look due to their performance on the pitch this season - Josh Gardner (6.21), Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar (6.00), Leighton O'Brien (5.94), Taylor Graham (5.92), Chris Eylander (5.63) and Youssouf Kante (5.63).

Is there a place for Hugo on Sounders FC?
(Rick Morrison)

I think that seeing Eylander, Gardner and Graham on that list gives it some overall validity, but what is more intriguing is that if we set the cutoff at the 5.31 that Nik Besagno was awarded overall Danny Jackson, Kevin Forrest (MLS draftee in '08) and Kevin Sakuda make the list.
Is it reasonable assumption that up to 11 players from the 2008 USL squad could make Sounders FC's roster next year? Considering that they get 10 discovery claims and two are already signed that answer is yes. Book four of the Seattle Soccer series is already under way, and this year has been a long prologue, but the men in Rave Green will be in camp soon battling to see if they are starters, substitutes or reserves for the 2009 Qwest for a Sheild or Cup.

Thank you to ProstAmerika for inspiring this post with their compilation of player ratings throughout the latter part of the season.

I am Dave Clark and I can be found at Sounder at Heart providing statistical analysis and uncovering hidden gems in foreign leagues.


  1. My take is the SeattleSoccerShow ratings are VERY deflated.

    Either that, or why should Sounders FC evaluate USL players who are just "average" which is what a 5 or 6 is?

    Just my $.02a

  2. The unfortunate truth in my view is that the performance of the team was not exceptional this season. If I'd have rated 2007 it would have looked much different than this year's ratings, but I am happy with the fact that the overall player ratings generally reflect the team's performance, which after finishing sixth in the table and exiting in the first round of the playoffs, could hardly be considered above average.

  3. Also, GoSounders, the method that I used takes into account any sort of consistent over/under rating by comparing the players that ARE without a doubt MLS talent to those who might be.

    If the team average was a 2, but all the MLS talents got a 7 and there was another guy with a 7 we could say he is MLS caliber. The overall average doesn't matter, just the individual ratings v. the players who will be in MLS.

    Mati, I think that rating the team overall as barely above average is about right. They showed promise at times and some players excelled in limited roles (Kante, Nyassi).

  4. Well then, do any 7s, 8s or 9s exist in USL?

    Again, according the rankings, 5 is average; should an MLS team be looking at average (to slightly above average) USL players?

    I believe that some USLers have MLS talent. No doubt. But to a novice, the message of being "USL average" is saying that the player is deserving of playing in MLS.

    Are the "without a doubt MLS talented" players underperforming?

    I don't know what my conclusion is, but I think it revolves around the fact that players' USL performances will have little input in being offered a contract with Sounders FC.

  5. I've been going back in forth in my head a lot lately about how the USL and MLS compare to each other. We've seen that our squad can consistently defeat the bottom half of numerous MLS rosters over the course of the past two seasons. this year's results in the CONCACAF Champion's League seem to point to a fairly equal level of play.

    I just don't think that I buy the typical MLS team can't get up to play lower level competition anymore. If you can't get up to play in a champion's league match, then you should consider a different line of work.

    Based on the series I saw this weekend, I think Seattle and Montreal both would have beaten most MLS teams with the performance they put out.

    So, would your average MLS player be more than a five or six consistently in the USL? I am starting to think not. Especially after I watched LA vs Chicago last thursday.

    By the way, thanks to everyone who has made these rankings one of our most popular features.

  6. I think that Dave's analysis of Mati's ratings leads to a good list of players to give the strongest consideration to for 2009.

    When comparing USL players to MLS players, I always wonder about the training factor. The typical USL players has to have a second job while playing to afford to live. The typical MLS players does not have a second job during the season. The MLS player starts training earlier in the season and trains more hours per week. I think that many USL players would be substantially better with the additional training they would get in MLS. So consider not just how good they are now, but how good they might become with more and perhaps better training.


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