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Sounders Centerbacks through the Lens of Tools

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Seattle Sounders Centerbacks of 2009
Seattle Sounders Centerbacks of 2009

These are the stalwarts of defense. Ball winners at their best, thugs at their worst. Outside of keepers, these are the players least associated with being "good soccer players." It is a myth, and unfortunate, because the centerback is vital to the success of the team. Generally tall, strong and willing to get in there. These men stop the flow of play against their own team. But some of the greatest differences in these players are what they do when they win the ball.

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.

The ratings were derived from the frontpage authors at the time (Dave, Jeremiah, sidereal, malcontentjake) and Graham at WAGNH. They are based on performance in 2010, and are a review, not projection. They are an average of the five voters.

Sometimes when we don't see a player for 6 months we forget how good they are. Of course, the other chance is also true in that they may be overrated. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado though is likely judged fairly. Let's remember he was an All-Star in 2009. Adrian Hanauer said that he is the most effective passer on the team via the Sounders closed statistical measurements of 2010. He was quick, fast and strong. He won aerial balls, as well as being an amazing one-on-one defender. If healthy he is a true difference maker in defense for any team in the league.

Two players paired with Hurtado. Now a former Sounder, Tyrone Marshall's greatest strengths were in toughness and clearing the ball a long distance, not necessarily with accuracy. He was also foul prone. Tyrone has the skills to be serviceable, but we saw a significant change when Patrick Ianni played as part of the center pairing.

Ianni's biggest difference is his ability to add something to the offense. He did this in set-plays, while not converting as often as one would like, but also with dribbling skills and some passing, though not at Jhon's level.  His skills in the air are as good as any.

Jeff Parke joined a team that was already built. His opportunity came about due to injury, and he rapidly became a leader of the defense. Sure, he's a vocal leader, but what is more relevant to this conversation is that he's capable of dribbling through porous opposition forwards. He may not be quite as skillful in his off ball defense as the other two he currently battles for being a starter, but he's solid on the ball.

With the MLS Sounders we haven't seen as much of Taylor Graham as those of us who followed him in the USL would like, but when we do see him he has been particularly strong in the air, uses his body well and has some potential as a set-play offensive piece. But he has been injured, a situation that seems to be becoming a trend.

Since the roster battle is a major discussion point right now, I will include Wahl's numbers

Technical: 5.8
Tactical: 6.0
Offense: 4.5
Defense: 6.0
Physique: 5.8

From what the author's here have seen he is not centerback material, at least not in a starting role for League, nor non-League competition. But he can contribute, and some of his tactical and positional issues may be related to learning a newish role.