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Seattle Sounders' Forwards Reviewed Through Lens of Tools

Seattle Sounders Forwards tools as rated by writers for Sounder at Heart
Seattle Sounders Forwards tools as rated by writers for Sounder at Heart

The headline gives a strong indication of what our goal is, but I should remind you all that these tools look at PAST PERFORMANCE. The discussion will move towards projection after we use the next few days to discuss what we saw from everyone in 2010. Establishing a baseline will be important, particularly when these tools are used to look at Reserve and Academy guys.

Here's the initial post on tools for outfield players, and below the break are the definitions of each tool and discussion about the players.

Technical Ability - This encompasses what is done ON-ball. Things like dribbling, passing, man-on-man defense and shooting skills.

Tactical Judgement - This is about awareness of shape of both sides, off-ball runs, zonal defense, passing into runs.

Offensive Skills - How the player's tools translate when the team HAS the ball.

Defensive Skills - How the player's tools translate when the team LACKS the ball.

Physique - Size, Strength, Speed, Stamina are all in this one tool. How a player uses their strengths and minimize their weaknesses here is also important.

A first point that is made when looking at these is that looking at an average for an individual player will only point out how good they would be as a box-to-box center midfielder. Since that category of players is coming up later we'll get more into that then, but for today let's all note that just because Mike Fucito has a higher average than Fredy Montero does not mean that he is a better player. Nor does it mean the system doesn't work. It is only an indicator that future work will need to be done on weighting of tools for positional strengths.

Secondly is a note on rating methodology. Each of the current writers on the masthead entered their data independently. Also rating was Graham from We Ain't Got No History. This is an objective display of subjective data. In the end it is just the opinion of several people who follow the game very closely, but who can be wrong for numerous reasons.

Focusing just on technical ability and offense for the forwards, as one could say these are the most important tools for this set of players, we see that Montero and Blaise Nkufo are rated the best. Little argument could be made that either of these players aren't the best offensive players of those in this current discussion.

Looking at Roger Levesque and Pat Noonan for those same categories we see two different ways to put forward similar performance results. None of the raters were particularly enthused by Roger's footwork and ball handling, but he does something with it. Pat might have more skills, but there was a certain lack of finish displayed even beyond every-one's favorite 'stache.

Physique was something that challenged us in setting up this system. Some players are tall and strong, others display speed and are small. What was decided is that we wanted to rate not just the actual physique, but HOW a player displays their asset during the game. Montero is a fine example. He is fast, but doesn't display it often enough, and he's also fit but not particularly strong. Fucito isn't a tall man, but is strong, quick and though limited in the amount of time to display his assets raters were fairly satisfied that he displayed well for himself. Here Levesque's willingness to chase the ball throughout the pitch got him some respect.

Defense is not normally the province of the forward, but Seattle's two towers impressed as they were willing to pressure opposing defenses. Both Blaise Nkufo and Nate Jaqua are target men on offense, but they don't back down after a turnover. They press, and fairly well. Not well enough to be defenders, but well enough to harass. This is the area where everyone was in agreement that Montero needs work, both positionally (tactical defense) and on the ball (technical defense). We also see that possible tactical substituion late in the game with a lead would be to remove Montero and replace with Levesque.

Again, this is not projection, but review. Younger players should be expected to do better. Players with small sample sizes for 2010 could have a dramatic shift in 2011 as more time allows for better evaluation. Older players are likely to fade, particularly in the technical and physique attributes when past 30, or with significant injury history.

Over the next few days we'll see Wide Midfielders, Central Midfielders, Fullbacks, Centerbacks and Keepers. Today, though, what do you think about how the tools are applied to the Forwards of 2010? What do you want to see more of from particular forwards?

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