Climbing the Ladder: Best & worst records as starters

Climbing the Ladder: Juninho

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Last week, Climbing the Ladder featured a look at which players had played for the most winning and losing teams. Let’s take it a step further.

Instead of looking at how a player’s team did for the season, how about checking that team’s performance for each game based on who started? Specifically, which current players have the best and worst individual won/loss records for all matches in which they’ve started? A minimum of 50 games started was used.

Active Players with Best Record as a Starter

(Min. 50 starts)

Rank Player Team Starts PPG
1 Juninho LA 57 2.018
2 Omar Gonzalez LA 87 1.920
3 A.J. DeLaGarza LA 68 1.853
4 Adam Moffat HOU 51 1.745
5 Tony Beltran RSL 71 1.732
6 Osvaldo Alonso SEA 82 1.720
7 Fredy Montero SEA 84 1.714
8 Donovan Ricketts MTL 74 1.703
9 Brek Shea DAL 60 1.700
10 Jámison Olave RSL 102 1.696

Three LA Galaxy players head the list of the players with the best individual records, with Juninho taking the top spot. The Brazilian midfielder has started 57 times since joining the club in 2010, and the Galaxy have logged a 34-10-13 record in those games.

He’s followed by teammates Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza, with Houston’s Adam Moffat the highest-ranked non-Galaxy player in fourth.

Brian Carroll was singled out last week for never experiencing a losing season in eight years of action. But despite always being over .500, his personal record only ranks 18th among current MLS players. That’s still very good, especially when considering how many more games he’s played than most of the guys ahead of him.

Jeff Larentowicz is another player that’s experienced tons of success, with seven winning teams in seven seasons. He’s 22 games over .500 and comes in at 34th, while reigning MVP Dwayne De Rosario is 66th. For those curious, David Beckham ranks just outside the top 25.

Ty Harden of Toronto FC has the worst record of any of the 145 eligible players.

Active Players with Worst Record as a Starter

(Min. 50 starts)

Rank Player Team Starts PPG
1 Ty Harden TOR 62 1.016
2 Andy Najar DC 52 1.019
3 Ante Jazic CHV 107 1.028
4 Andrew Boyens LA 63 1.032
5 Chris Tierney NE 71 1.056
6 Greg Sutton MTL 50 1.060
7 Kevin Alston NE 85 1.071
8 Ryan Johnson TOR 87 1.080
9 Rodney Wallace POR 62 1.081
10 Stefan Frei TOR 87 1.099

Harden's teams have accumulated only 63 points in his 62 starts. Future Olympian Andy Najar is right behind, only missing out on bottom by the thousandths column. It’s worth noting that despite that record, D.C. United’s games without Najar since his debut have been even worse (0.75 PPG).

Similarly, Dan Kennedy was lauded for having a stellar season a year ago on a poor Chivas USA team. So, in his case, making that list doesn’t equal being a bad player; the context is very important.

Most different goalscorers to start the season

When Colorado’s Omar Cummings scored for the Rapids against Chicago on Sunday, it was his second goal of the season and the team’s sixth. The five previous Colorado goals were all scored by different players, so he became the first player on his team to get a second one. That’s the longest any team has gone this year (so far) without a player hitting the net for a second time, but it was only halfway to a record.

Which team in league history opened their season with the most unique goalscorers? That’s the 2008 Rapids, which memorably kicked off by defeating LA 4-0 and spoiling Ruud Gullit’s MLS managerial debut. Ten different players scored in the team’s first six games, and then just like on Sunday, Cummings scored his second to end the run.

Colorado finished the 2008 season with 15 different goalscorers, which is two short of the record for most ever. Last season seemed to be a banner year for MLS teams spreading the glory around, as four teams had at least 16 different players score, including Houston with 17. Before last year, only five teams had done that in the previous 15 seasons combined.

Pareja, Rennie can’t quite start off with three in a row

It’s been quite a while since a new head coach debuted in Major League Soccer and won his first three regular season games in charge – 12 years, to be exact, when the eternally quotable Ray Hudson left the announcer’s booth and took interim control of the Miami Fusion in 2000.

So when Oscar Pareja in Colorado and Martin Rennie in Vancouver both had the chance to equal Hudson a few weeks ago after 2-0 starts, it was a unique situation. Ultimately, Colorado lost and Vancouver could only draw, so neither joined that elite club of coaches which also includes Lothar Osiander (LA in 1996), Tom Fitzgerald (Columbus in 1996) and John Kowalski (Tampa Bay in 1997).

Rennie’s unbeaten streak is still intact with the Whitecaps, but Osiander’s run with the inaugural Galaxy team will be hard to beat. Osiander, who coached the US national team in the late 1980s, opened with 12 consecutive wins, two of which were via the shootout. That includes an opening eight-game regulation winning streak; to this day, no team has strung together more than eight consecutive (non-shootout) wins since.