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2011 Soccer Tools Review: Defenders

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Jeff Parke was the stalwart in 2011, while Zach Scott was a valued contributor in limited use.
Jeff Parke was the stalwart in 2011, while Zach Scott was a valued contributor in limited use.

After reviewing the losses I decided to lump the remaining defenders together. Seattle Sounders FC returns two fullbacks, three centerbacks and Zach Scott man-marker. These ratings add clarity in the various authors' opinions about why Seattle is reinventing it's fullback positions signing Adam Johansson, pursuing Christian Sivebaek and possibly adding more wide defensive talent either through a young international or draftee.

At the same point the centerbacks are quite solid. Our observances do not shed light on the fall of Patrick Ianni from Sigi's graces, nor can we explain why Jhon Kennedy Hurtado has started fading from a high rating based on his 2010 performance. What all of us agree is that Jeff Parke was huge in 2011. He might not deserve a USMNT call, but is the best pure defender on the squad.

Player Role Technical Tactical Offense Defense Physique Average
Gonzalez FullBack 6.8 6.3 5.3 7.3 5 6.14
Tetteh FullBack 7 3 6.7 4.3 6.5 5.5
Parke CenterBack 6.8 8.3 3.5 8.6 8.8 7.2
Ianni CenterBack 6.5 7.3 4.1 7.3 8.5 6.74
Hurtado CenterBack 4.8 8.3 3.3 8.6 8.3 6.66
Scott CenterBack 5.8 6.5 3 7.3 7 5.92

The two returning leftbacks are both strong with the ball, not just at their positions, but compared to the league. Neither are conventional crossers but can use the dribble to advance past defenders. Leo Gonzalez is also strong in his on-ball defense, though can be beat with balls that play his mark into space. Gonzalez' fading speed is a concern and he doesn't use his size to his advantage. The group sees him as a league average player, but he may cause some issues on defense in 2012 due to positioning.

Michael Tetteh possesses skills like midfielder. He's speedy, a strong dribbler and passes well. What we noticed in Tetteh's Reserve appearances is that he has significant positioning issues. In college he must have used his speed advantage in the Big West to earn his defensive reputation. If Seattle adds a young left back Tetteh's transition to left mid should start. But if he makes strides defensively in the early part of the Reserve season his offensive skills are a rare addition in the position.

In some ways we saw Parke and Hurtado as similar players. Both position well defensively, both are relatively limited offensively. Where Parke was stronger was his ability defend on ball and to use his strength to shut down target forwards. He also displayed an ability to dribble on occasion. Hurtado is still in his peak age so a one year down spell shouldn't be an indication of a permanent issue. A full healthy year could do wonders.

Patrick Ianni did make a few critical mistakes in passing and positioning in 2011. Overall though his willingness to sacrifice his body in defense, his lateral movement and his usual strong passing and dribbling are still appealing assets. He may be the defender most suited to the style of play of Michael Gspurning. At 26 Ianni should make improvements in situational awareness. Of non-starters he's also the player most likely to be used in trade bait as he could start on a handful of MLS squads.

The lack of depth after Ianni is a reason why the Sounders shouldn't deal him. Zach Scott is a strong man marker who can be used wide or centrally. What Scott struggles with is consistent offensive contribution and an ability to work with the line passing marks through his zone. He's the slowest and least strong of the centerbacks. Still he's better than replacement level and can be used effectively in marking situations. Turning 32 during the 2012 season his time as a pro may be limited, but a 10 year career in one soccer city is impresssive.