“The future of the game is universality.”
That paraphrase of Jonathan Wilson’s seminal work on tactics, Inverting the Pyramid, is the best encapsulation of how our game has evolved over the past 10 years.
Goalscorers aren’t just Gerd Müller-types anymore, predators who lurk in the 18-yard box (or, in his brief NASL run, straddle the 35-yard “offside” line) and do little else. They’re Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, dynamic open-field finishers and creators, players capable of opening the field with a single pass or ghosting to the back post for a back-breaking header.
And forwards are expected to do so, so much more than just finish. You have to hold the ball up and bring the wingers, or flankers, or attacking midfielders into the play. You have to pressure. You have to possess. You have to check to the ball, or move diagonally away from it. Get to the near post. Drag defenders with you as you go.
The game’s changed a lot. But for 90 minutes this past weekend, Álvaro Saborío put in a good, old fashioned, classic No. 9 performance. He thumped in a header to put RSL up 1-0. Then he got loose at the top of the box and lashed home a deflected shot to make it 2-1.
It ended 3-2, but Saborío’s throwback performance was the difference on the night, and saw him top the Castrol Weekly top 20 for the second time in four weeks.
The mercurial Costa Rican has gone missing at times this season, but RSL have prospered anyway as they’re off to the best start in team history. With their star forward now heating up, it could signal trouble for a league that’s already trying to play catch-up to one degree or another.
New England attacker Saer Sene – one of the new breeds of goalscorers as likely to pop up in midfield or on the flanks as he is in the box – took the No. 2 spot for his work in the Revs’ 3-2 loss to D.C. United at the weekend.
Midfielder Jaime Castrillón of the Colorado Rapids pulled in at No. 3 thanks largely to his game-winner against Montreal, while Steven Lenhart, at No. 4, never said die against the LA Galaxy midweek, and as a result saw his San Jose side take their own 3-2 win.
Rounding out the top 5 on the Index is Montreal rookie Andrew Wenger, who put on a quality, classy display in the Impact’s 3-2 loss to the Rapids. The forward bagged a goal and was a menace all afternoon.
MLS Player of the Week Emilio Rentería of the Crew didn’t crack the top 20 for either of his performances, but his goalkeeper make the list for both. Andy Gruenebaum grabbed the No. 10 spot for his midweek shutout at Seattle, and the No. 12 spot for the weekend victory over rivals Chicago Fire.
And a welcome sight to fans in Portland and Toronto will be the presence of Designated Players Kris Boyd and Danny Koevermans at Nos. 19 and 20, respectively. The big forwards have both largely been missing from the fight this season, but each grabbed a goal at the weekend.
Weekly Top 20 Performers - Week 12 Powered by Castrol Index
|1||Álvaro Saborío||Forward||Real Salt Lake||90||1,574|
|2||Saer Sene||Forward||New England Revolution||90||1,494|
|3||Jaime Castrillón||Midfielder||Colorado Rapids||90||1,423|
|4||Steven Lenhart||Forward||San Jose Earthquakes||90||1,314|
|5||Andrew Wenger||Forward||Montreal Impact||90||1,293|
|6||Kei Kamara||Forward||Sporting Kansas City||90||1,277|
|7||Nat Borchers||Defender||Real Salt Lake||90||1,257|
|8||Andrew Hainault||Defender||Houston Dynamo||90||1,230|
|9||Marco Pappa||Midfielder||Chicago Fire||88||1,211|
|10||Andy Gruenebaum*||Goalkeeper||Columbus Crew||90||1,195|
|11||Matt Hedges||Defender||FC Dallas||90||1,183|
|12||Andy Gruenebaum*||Goalkeeper||Columbus Crew||90||1,156|
|13||David Estrada||Forward||Seattle Sounders FC||78||1,153|
|14||Dejan Jakovic||Defender||D.C. United||90||1,132|
|15||Patrice Bernier||Midfielder||Montreal Impact||90||1,122|
|16||Sean Johnson||Goalkeeper||Chicago Fire||90||1,103|
|17||Chris Konopka||Goalkeeper||Philadelphia Union||90||1,097|
|18||Kenny Cooper||Forward||New York Red Bulls||90||1,091|
|19||Kris Boyd||Forward||Portland Timbers||90||1,069|
|20||Danny Koevermans||Forward||Toronto FC||28||1,034|
*Makes list twice based on team's two games in Week 12