Blerim Dzemaili didn’t enter MLS with the fanfare of some of his Designated Player counterparts. When he joined the Montreal Impact on loan in early May, he actually slipped into his new league before his previous club – Italy’s Bologna – had completed its Serie A season.
Although his pedigree was apparent – two World Cups and 56 caps with Switzerland and Bologna’s second-leading scorer in the 2016-17 season –many MLS fans didn’t know what to expect.
Suffice to say, Dzemaili’s performances in May and June have answered any questions about his ability to contribute at a high level.
At the end of June, Dzemaili stood alone atop the Audi Player Index standings, boasting the best average of all players who have earned minutes in 2017. His 727 average through June stood above MVP candidates like David Villa, Sebastian Giovinco and Romain Alessandrini.
How did he get there? It’s simple: offensive production.
While Dzemaili describes himself as a box-to-box midfielder, his best work has come in advanced positions. In his first MLS match against Columbus, he tallied five successful crosses – at 45 points each, he earned a cool 225 points. The Orlando City defense fouled him five times in an attempt to limit his production – with each foul worth 20 points, that was another 100 points.
The graphic shows how well he’s been performing against MLS averages, especially in the attacking statistics. As Dzemaili continues to add goals and assists, his presence at the top of the Audi Index standings will continue to solidify.
The Swiss midfielder has even shown the ability to carry the offense with Montreal’s other key attacking threat, Ignacio Piatti, sidelined. In the Impact’s first match without Piatti, Dzemaili provided a goal and an assist in a 2-0 victory over D.C. United. His Audi Index score in that match? 751 points.
The consistency has been astonishing – in five of Dzemaili’s first six matches, he’s scored over 700 points in the Audi Index.
With Didier Drogba now a distant memory, Mauro Biello’s team has a new 1-2 attacking punch. Will it be enough to carry the team past the Eastern Conference Championship, where they fell to Toronto FC in 2016? It will be exciting to find out.