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2011 Soccer Tools Review: Central Midfield Engine

Osvaldo Alonso isn't just the most complete player on Seattle Sounders FC. He is one of the most complete players in MLS.
Osvaldo Alonso isn't just the most complete player on Seattle Sounders FC. He is one of the most complete players in MLS.

Sigi Schmid refers to his central midfielders as the engine room. Whether these players are glamorous playmakers, defensive stalwarts or a box-to-box man who gets ignored or pilloried by fans these are players who make or break seasons. For Seattle Sounders FC the center includes a player who many will claim is their best, the Honey Badger. For the authors of the site this section features the most tactically aware group of players on the team.

Osvaldo Alonso is the player who we consider the most complete player on the team. In 2011 he displayed passing and dribbling skills that were infrequently displayed in 2010. The best example of his on-ball footwork may be his splitting multiple defenders prior slotting home the dagger against the Chicago Fire in the US Open Cup Final. Already a strong defender the past season saw development even in his strongest skill. He just doesn't care who dribbles the ball, admitting confusion when asked if he felt he needed to try harder against the league's best. Fast, strong and tactically aware Alonso isn't just a defensive mid he can pop into the offense to slam a long shot on goal to more effect as he's spent time in MLS. There may be no player in the league rated as strong throughout our skill rating as Alonso.

Player Role Technical Tactical Offense Defense Physique Average
Alonso CenterMid 7.6 8.3 6.8 10 9 8.34
Evans CenterMid 5 8.6 6.4 6 6.5 6.5
Carrasco CenterMid 5 6 4.5 7.8 6.8 6.02
Seamon CenterMid 4.3 4.7 5.8 5 5 4.96

The returning partner for Alonso is Brad Evans. Of players that frustrate Sounders fans Evans is the only one who returns. Whether frustrated at his misses or primarily lateral passes the fanbase's desire to see a playmaker might be one of the reasons. But what he does well in his box-to-box role is occupy spaces to cut off passing lanes, defend fairly well (in particularly in the air). More than suitable as a partner in midfield Evans is a great example of an "engine" player. He moves the ball but never the final pass and puts himself into dangerous positions through strong runs. There's something to be said about a player who puts themselves into those places so frequently, no matter what they do with the ball.

Initially surprising, the writers feel strongly about Servando Carrasco. He averages well. His willingness to use his body defensively pulls up those ratings. The youngster isn't the most technical Sounder and certainly lacks on the offensive end at this time. He has managed a few pretty moments with the ball, but he is a more traditional holding mid. He stops opponent attacks. He is the shield in front of the backline, doing that well. He could possibly start on a few MLS sides, but in Seattle is the back-up to one of the best who can also come on as a late game lead protector.

Though injured through much of the year Mike Seamon was strong in Reserve League play. There he showed an ability to be an assist man even though he was often the deeper of the two midfielders. This next season will probably be the one where we see if Seamon is an MLS regular or a fringe man on a very deep roster.

Player Role Technical Tactical Offense Defense Physique Average
Fernandez Winger 8.2 8.2 7.2 4.3 4.6 6.5

We'll dive deeper into Alvaro Fernandez when talking about the wingers later, but since he may play centrally more in 2012 his ratings are offered for perspective now.

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