MLS Fantasy Advice: Which six midfielders have earned the right to be called MLS All-Stars?

Diego Valeri (Fantasy)

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Due to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, several players missed significant time with their MLS clubs. In turn, it's also drastically affected their stats.

Would they still be as dominant as they were before they left for international duty? Would they have struggled with injuries or suspensions? We'll never know. What we do know is that several players who weren't blessed with the opportunity to represent their national team on the global stage were killing it back in Major League Soccer.

On Tuesday, we took a closer look at the top strikers in MLS / MLS Fantasy and compared them to who was leading in the AT&T MLS All-Star fan vote (as of July 7). Today, we'll look at the midfielders. You have 15 players to choose from in the poll to the right, but only six picks. Review the data below before deciding. I'm confident it will make you think twice during the selection process.

Remember, MLS Fantasy is a game based on statistics. In this regard, there are a few players who've been a step or two above the rest so far in 2014. Here's how the top midfielders in Major League Soccer compare to one another with regard to total fantasy points, points per game, assists, key passes and big chances created.

Total Score

Diego ValeriJavier Morales and Pedro Morales set themselves apart when it comes to scoring among midfielders in MLS Fantasy. They've done it by performing well in multiple areas: goals, assists, key passes, big chances created and so on.

  Player Selected Price GP Points / Game Total Score
Portland Timbers Diego Valeri 17.1% $10.3 18 5.7 102
Real Salt Lake Javier Morales 14.0% $11.2 16 6.4 102
Vancouver Whitecaps Pedro Morales 20.2% $8.8 15 6.6 99
Seattle Sounders FC Lamar Neagle 18.8% $8.2 16 5.2 83
Philadelphia Union Christian Maidana 7.6% $7.7 16 5.1 82

*GP = Games Played

Lamar Neagle and Christian Maidana have quite a bit of ground to make up to catch these three. This is a good starting point to understand how well these mids have been performing. But don't let one stat tell the whole story. Continue reading...

Points per Game

One of the best categories in MLS Fantasy that helps identify how players are performing is points per game. It doesn't necessarily gauge consistency, but it's the closest thing to it besides Form, which measures points per game over the last 30 days.

Looking through the list, you'll notice quite a few players who missed time due to the World Cup. They're on here for a reason – they were very good before they left.

  Player Selected Price Total Score Ponts / Game
Seattle Sounders FC Clint Dempsey 14.5% $10.3 70 7.8
Houston Dynamo Brad Davis 1.2% $10.4 63 7.0
Vancouver Whitecaps Pedro Morales 20.2% $8.8 99 6.6
Real Salt Lake Javier Morales 14.0% $11.2 102 6.4
FC Dallas Mauro Díaz 6.0% $7.8 56 6.2
LA Galaxy Landon Donovan 12.7% $10.9 71 5.9
Sporting Kansas City Graham Zusi 10.9% $10.6 58 5.8
Portland Timbers Diego Valeri 17.1% $10.3 102 5.7
Real Salt Lake Kyle Beckerman 10.0% $9.6 63 5.7
Seattle Sounders FC Lamar Neagle 18.8% $8.2 83 5.2

Should leaving for international duty affect whether they get an All-Star nod? No, but there are other players who've been consistent all along, which is something that can't exactly be tracked for players who were on leave from MLS.

Assists

Key passes, big chances created, crosses and goals are a few offensive statistics associated with midfielders, but the most common of them all are assists. On a side note, forwards Fabian Espindola (8) and Obafemi Martins (6) are not on this list, but it should be noted that they are among the leaders when it comes to this particular stat.

  Player Selected Price Minutes Played Assists | Assists per 90
Portland Timbers Diego Valeri 17.1% $10.3 1,477 8 | .49
Philadelphia Union Christian Maidana 7.6% $7.7 1,138 7 | .55
New York Red Bulls Lloyd Sam 18.3% $6.9 1,491 6 | .36
Vancouver Whitecaps Pedro Morales 20.2% $8.8 1,181 6 | .46

Seven players have five assists so far this season: Morales, Justin Mapp, Brad Davis, Shea Salinas, Mauro Rosales, Eric Alexander and Gonzalo Pineda.

Davis has five assists in 704 minutes (0.64/game); 300 minutes less than the next closest player with five assists or more.

Key Passes

Key passes are a great indicator of vision, touch and composure on the ball. The players below are able to pick out the final pass more than others, and that is why they are on this list.

  Player Selected Price Total Score Key Passes
Real Salt Lake Javier Morales 14.0% $11.2 102 59
Portland Timbers Diego Valeri 17.1% $10.3 102 49
Vancouver Whitecaps Pedro Morales 20.2% $8.8 99 43
New England Revolution Lee Nguyen 6.0% $8.6 72 38
San Jose Earthquakes Shea Salinas 4.1% $7.5 59 38

Sometimes we need to go a step further to analyze whether the "final pass" is leading to above-average goal scoring opportunities, or if their teammates are just a little trigger happy.

Big Chances Created

Again, we see both Morales and Valeri atop the list in another category. If you've had the chance to watch any of these players take the field this shouldn't be a shock to you.

  Player Selected Price Total Score Big Chances Created
Vancouver Whitecaps Pedro Morales 20.2% $8.8 99 6
Real Salt Lake Javier Morales 14.0% $11.2 102 5
Portland Timbers Diego Valeri 17.1% $10.3 102 4

For those of you who haven't been able to watch them dismantle opposing teams with vision and accuracy, you're missing out. BCC's are a key component in modern analysis. It's termed as an opportunity in which a player should score.

You don't get many opportunities like this throughout the season, but if you play with one of them your chances of getting a ball served up on a platter are that much greater than everyone else.

In a Nutshell

If you're choosing players for the AT&T MLS All-Star team based solely on these charts, both Javier and Pedro Morales, and Valeri should be locks. However, this is how the midfield class (based on fan voting) looks as of July 7...

1. Clint Dempsey (SEA)
2. Michael Bradley (TOR)
3. Graham Zusi (SKC)
4. Kyle Beckerman (RSL)
5. Benny Feilhaber (SKC)
6. Tim Cahill (NY)
7. Will Johnson (POR)

That's right. Neither Valeri nor either Morales made the cut. There wasn’t even a touch of love for Mapp, Nguyen, Salinas or Davis. Not shocking based on how fans vote these days, but the players present in the categories above have been top notch. They deserve to make history. They deserve the chance to take on Bayern Munich. Most importantly, they deserve to be called MLS All-Stars.

So, who do you think are the most-deserving midfielders to play at Providence Park vs. Bayern Munich on Aug. 6? Pick your top six in the poll above and voice your opinion in the comments below.