Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things to take away from Week 21:
There is an abundance of quality, young center backs in the league. (Not all of them are American, of course, but many of them are.) It's just the cyclical nature of these things, of course; the collective strength at any position will ebb and flow.
The list goes on.
And, of course, there is Los Angeles' talented
One that keeps MLS from being a little easier on the eyes is the collective quality of crossing. Normally, an MLS weekend is wrought with crossing that's somewhere between ineffective and just plain awful. Service from the wings frequently lacks authority -- if the efforts make it into the penalty area at all.
Even well-struck crosses are frequently pointless, fired haphazardly into the penalty area without purpose, aim or specific intent. So, when a match unfolds with quality service from the wings, it's worth noting.
San Jose's win over Los Angeles had a few nice balls zinged in from the Earthquakes'
Meanwhile, the Red Bulls'
One element remains missing, however, and it's a toughie: The team may be one potent striker away from moving atop the contender class.
Colombian journeyman striker
Is there a worthy striker out there to be had? The options are limited. Although the international transfer window has closed for MLS teams, out-of-contract internationals can still be signed. While it's possible, it's generally tough because of salary-cap constraints at this point. The MLS trade window remains open until mid-September, but the best bait is a young player like
Sure enough, Yallop made the change last month. And Busch was good -- until he gave up a terrible goal against Colorado and lost his spot. But Cannon's broken ankle in a freak practice accident has demonstrated anew how critical Yallop's choice to spend some cash on a quality backup has proved to be. Now, despite Cannon's season-ending injury, the Earthquakes have a veteran goalkeeper for the playoff stretch run.
In Dallas, Hartman may have looked a wee bit pricey at $80,000 guaranteed -- especially when the Red Stripes were paying
The players' union released salary figures last week for all 16 teams. Here, according to that information (and using base salary figures) are the best and worst values in MLS this year.
(For this list, we won't include rookies at the $40,000 league minimum who are suddenly starting -- more of a fortuitous rookie find than a value steal, really.)
(For this list, we'll include only the "cap number" for any designated players who count $335,000 toward a club's salary limit.)