Sounders have another off-week. A week in which they will be watching scoreboards and working on tactics. Probably the biggest decision will be who to start as the other Forward with Montero, who to put on the Right Wing and followed by how to use the Central Midfielders. These decisions have really all focused on how to best use Freddie Ljungberg. The players most effected by the cascade of these decisions are Nate Jaqua, Seb Le Toux and Brad Evans.
Jaqua and Le Toux are both harriers that put solid pressure on the opposing defense. Jaqua has been used more as a forward pivot than the traditional target man, while Le Toux has played most of his time as the Right Midfielder coming back defensively. Jaqua skill-set tends to center on his ability to read a defense, pass and occupy the right space to capitalize on space. Le Toux's set is more about pace, defensive pressure and ideally finishing thought that hasn't shown itself in league play.
Brad Evans is a tactical expert with a bit of a finishing sense, and the ability to play anywhere on the right side, as well as the box-to-box and defensive midfielder role. He occupies the proper space to disrupt the opposing offense, but isn't an attacking midfielder in the classic sense.
If the givens are at forward - with the Freddyain, the question really becomes who best plays as the central and right midfielders. Let's just focus on those three (yes I could input Alonso in a more advanced role with Vagenas back, but in tuning for the Playoffs let's stick with the club's strength).
Player - PP90 - Plus/Minus - +/-90 - Clean Sheets
Jaqua - 0.90 - 11 - 0.47 - 10
LeToux - 0.31 - 7 - 0.44 - 5
Evans - 0.26 - 10 - 0.43 - 10
The statistics between those three players are really quite even. There are some indications that the defense is a touch stronger with Evans and Jaqua (even as a rate stat) but the team's offense is really nearly neutral for all. Jaqua's individual numbers are strong, but it is a team game.
We also though know that if Evans is the RM he cheats inward and James Riley has to contribute more to the offense, sometimes leaving the opposing LM/LW open on the counter. The only thing not shown is that the Sounders are strongest on corners when Jaqua is in the game and that he has 7 assists while the other two only have five between them.
So propose the radical idea that Nate Jaqua play a CAM role. This still allows him to harry the opposing defense and midfield, while also taking advantage of his tactical knowledge and his passing skills. This means that rather be an advanced pivot, he would have the traditional pivot role while the Freddyain can play the game we saw at Columbus.
Seb Le Toux's solid defense on the Right Midfielder and his ability to add a touch more offense would start over Brad Evans. This leaves Evans as an invaluable substitute that could fill in for Alonso, Jaqua, Le Toux or Riley if necessary. Certainly there are few teams that use their tallest player and one of their slower players as an Attacking Midfielder, but with 13 days to prepare for the next match and less than a month before the Playoffs this is the last opportunity for a dramatic shift. Roles must be settled and firm before Sounders FC have their two-leg first round match-up.
After the 29th Week of Play the West is dominant 1.46 PPM +25 GD
Crew, Galaxy and Dynamo are all in the Playoffs NOW
Best Player by PP90 is Jeff Cunningham at 2.13 with Montero at 5th and Jaqua at 21st
Full stats follow - please comment on who you want to see at the F, CM/CAM and RM/RW for the final two matches and Playoffs