In MLS, 2011 was the Year of the Defender. Whether it was Nat Borchers at the start of the year, Geoff Cameron at the end or Omar Gonzalez throughout, it seemed like every week it was the defense that was claiming headlines.
And 2012 hasn’t started much differently, as the two top-ranked players in the Castrol Rankings after Week 1 were defenders Drew Moor and Andre Hainault. Both veterans grabbed game-winning goals, and were each part of a unit that posted a shutout to boot.
Castrol Index Top 10 - Week 1
|7||Ricardo Villar||FC Dallas||1048|
|8||Bill Hamid||D.C. United||1008|
Surprisingly, though, there were only five other defenders in the Castrol top 20 for the week: Portland rookie Andrew Jean-Baptiste at No. 5; Sporting KC hard man Aurélien Collin at No. 12; Timbers left back Rodney Wallace at No. 13; FC Dallas right back Zach Loyd at No. 15; and Rapids left back Luis Zapata at No. 20.
Goal scorers Edson Buddle of the LA Galaxy and Kris Boyd of the Timbers were Nos. 3 and 4, respectively. Both center forwards got on the board with go-ahead headers over the weekend – though Buddle’s Galaxy ultimately came up short in a 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake. Boyd and the Timbers, meanwhile, won by 3-1 against the Philadelphia Union.
Surprisingly, RSL weren’t well-represented at the top of the Index, with only starting ‘keeper Nick Rimando (No. 13) and starting forward Fabián Espíndola (No. 26), as well as substitute midfielder Javier Morales (No. 37) cracking the top 50.
Rimando was actually the fifth-ranked ‘keeper for the Matchday, trailing Colorado’s Matt Pickens, D.C. United’s Bill Hamid, Vancouver’s Joe Cannon and Houston’s Tally Hall.
On the other end of the spectrum were Columbus, New York and Philadelphia, none of whom placed a player in the top 60. The highest-ranked Crew player was veteran central defender Chad Marshall at No. 62, while new Swedish defender Markus Holgersson and new Panamanian midfielder Gabriel Gómez were the highest rated for the Red Bulls and Union, respectively, both clocking in at No. 67.
In terms of value per minute, Morales was the runaway winner, earning his ranking in just 24 minutes on the pitch. Sporting KC’s C.J. Sapong finished a distant second, pulling in at No. 69 in just 16 minutes of work – work that, incidentally, included the game-winner in SKC’s 1-0 victory at D.C.
MLS Player of the Week Kalif Alhassan tallied a goal and an assist, and won the free kick that led to Jean-Baptiste’s goal, but only ranked No. 43 for the week despite dominating the right flank. That was good for seventh-best on the Timbers squad.
Last year's Castrol Index winner Chris Wondolowski, who notched the game-winning goal against New England in San Jose's 1-0 win, pulled in at No. 92 for the week.