Now with Atlanta United, Tyrone Mears was the starting right back whenever available for the Sounders in 2016. That was true no matter the coach or other talent on the squad. Mears will turn 34 in a couple weeks, and is now with his ninth team.
The ranking is based on several hundred Sounder at Heart readers’ votes. Realio rated every single MLS regular season and playoff game as well as the two CONCACAF Champions League matches. He did not rate USL or USOC play.
Tyrone Mears 2016
A poor crosser, Mears is often in spaces where he must cross. He gets forward frequently, providing much of the width Seattle needs due to their midfield playing narrow. Not an effective shooter when in the box. Needs to be at the corner of the 18 using small passes to break down defenses. Should not be a target, nor taker, on set-pieces.
Without the recovery speed of other right backs Tyrone was frequently caught out of position. He was also a bit prone to going to ground, forcing the right centerback to cover the space if the tackle failed. Mears was decent at stand-up on-man defense and holds most value in that role. Does not contribute on set-pieces.
For an attacking right back Mears is not particularly fast, nor quick. He is tireless, rushing up the touchline for 90 minutes and more as needed. An even tackler that does not use his body often, though he is willing to go to ground.
Tyrone Mears was a great pickup for the Sounders in 2015, instantly becoming the starting right back and being impressively durable for multiple seasons. This year I noted a marked decline in his ratings though, and his CCL average of 5.5 would be born out through the rest of his 38 appearances on the season to end as his cumulative rating on the year. This included 18 appearances and a 5.39 rating in Sigi-coached games and 14/5.29 from Schmetzer games.
Tyrone really struggled in 2016. His regular season average dropped a full ratings point from 6.36 to 5.34, and, while he was durable, his play suffered across the board. Mears was prone to massive errors on the back line, often costing the Sounders goals while also failing to get up the wing and support the attack. His season was a general disappointment from my view, capped by a disasterous 2 rating (and being yanked at halftime) against Portland on Aug 28th in a game that Mears looked to have quit on his team. This wasn’t the first time he seemed to do so; his effort was massively in question during the SKC game that ushered out Schmid as well.
An utterly dreadful 4.44-rated 9 game stretch from mid-July to mid-September may have cost many other players their starting job, but Schmetzer stuck with the beleaguered right back and was rewarded with improved - though still slightly below MLS average - ratings for the stretch run. Mears did save one of his best for last, earning an above-average 7 in MLS cup final, his highest score in 4 months.
Tyrone will likely be remembered well because of the end to the season, and his highlight strip/assist against Dallas. but he really struggled for huge portions of the year. Its entirely possible that he will follow the lead of Lamar Neagle (another player who struggled massively, yet was durable enough to see many games as a Sounder) and find some success for another MLS team in the Eastern Conference. It is too early to say how ok the Sounders will be without Mears on the roster, but based on his massively decreased effectiveness, it was the right time to part ways.
Best Case 2017:
Starting a majority of games for an Atlanta United side that challenges the Eastern Conference’s best.