Winning games from the 10 spot

but goals are vital to be a top team.

D.C. United really started to click with the addition of Christian Gomez. This year he has 11 goals and nine assists. His goal total represents nearly 20 percent of the team total. Add to that his partners Ben Olsen and Brian Carroll, who have another three goals combined, and 25 percent of D.C.'s goals come from the center of midfield.

San Jose is the Supporters' Shield winner for the most points over the course of the regular season. This year they found a new attacking midfielder in Dwayne De Rosario. He has eight goals and 13 assists. His total represents 16 percent of their total goals. Add to this Ricardo Clark's three goals and 22 percent come from the middle of the field.

New England has usually played Clint Dempsey out of midfield. I know there are times he has played up front, but when everyone is healthy he comes out of central midfield. He has 10 goals and nine assists. Shalrie Joseph has five goals and Andy Dorman and Jose Cancela have chipped in with another four between them. This total represents 37 percent of their total goals. Even if you take away half of Dempsey goals as having been scored as a forward, you still have 28 percent of their goals coming from the central midfield positions.

Chicago has Thiago, the Brazilian, and he has six goals and seven assists. Jesse Marsch has five goals and Chris Armas has two. Added together this represents 27 percent of their total.

The above teams also happen to be the top four point getters in league play.

Looking at the bottom four, we get a different story.

Chivas USA have gotten four goals from Hector Cuadros and two from Ramon Ramirez. This represents 19 percent and looking at their top individual he only has 13 percent.

Real Salt Lake got only three goals from Clint Mathis. That represents 10 percent -- add to that Andy Williams with five more and you get 27 percent. But remember both of these guys have spent part of the time playing up front.

In Columbus, Kyle Martino has no goals, Simon Elliott has one and Eric Vasquez has two. Their total represents 9 percent of the team total.

Finally, Colorado has Alain Nkong with five, while Kyle Beckerman and Pablo Mastroeni added another two. The seven-goal total represents 18 percent of their goal total.

Boy, all these statistics are making me dizzy. I will let you figure out the other four teams. But, it is important to note that the MetroStars and FC Dallas have goal-producing central players. Amado Guevara has 10 goals and Ronnie O'Brien has six. When you add in Richard Mulrooney, injured for most of the year, and Ramon Nu&ntile;ez to the total, Dallas has 12 goals from central midfield.

Los Angeles has six, with five coming from Peter Vagenas. Landon Donovan has some goals from here, but unlike Dempsey most of his have come from a forward position. Finally, Kansas City has a total of seven goals, all from Sasha Victorine.

So, what does all this mean? Numbers and statistics can support almost any argument if you position them properly.

My feeling is that the best teams are goal dangerous from the middle of midfield. Having a goal-scoring forward is fantastic, but having a goal-dangerous central midfielder gives you an extra dimension. It seems that all the good teams this year have such an individual.

When your attacking midfielder can score goals it gives the opponent's defense more to think about. It also means that the defense will spread out to cover all the options, therefore opening up attacking spaces. Midfielders who can thrust forward into the holes created by hard running from the forwards makes a team all the more formidable.

Everyone expects and wants their team's forwards to score goals. But when you get goals from midfield options, you open up new horizons for your team and quite possibly add hardware to the trophy case.

Sigi Schmid is one of the winningest coaches in MLS history, having led the Los Angeles Galaxy to four honors in his five-plus years at the helm, including the 2002 MLS Cup championship. Send comments to Sigi at sigischmid@hotmail.com. Views and opinions expressed in this column views and opinions are the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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