With just under three weeks to go before United States Men's National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann must submit his preliminary World Cup roster to FIFA, the key members of the MLS Home Guard are beginning to round into form.
Clint Dempsey returned from his two-game suspension with fire in his belly and TNT in his boots. The USMNT front man has notched five goals and two assists in the Seattle Sounders' last three games to finally curb USMNT fans' anxieties.
Michael Bradley sat out Toronto FC's 0-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids but returned to put in a full 90-minute shift in a losing effort at FC Dallas. It does not appear that Bradley's knee knock will hinder his World Cup preparations.
We'll look at all of Major League Soccer's World Cup hopefuls in this edition of the Home Guard by focusing on the players' metrics from the early stages of the 2014 MLS campaign.
Each World Cup candidate is categorized by the position he plays in Klinsmann's base 4-2-3-1 system: forwards (including the "withdrawn" forward), central midfielders, center backs, wing-backs (full backs/outside backs) and wing-forwards (outside midfielders). Bear in mind that some of the Home Guard play different positions for Klinsmann than they do for their MLS club, and we'll use each player's projected first position with the USMNT.
Different groups of metrics are given for each position. The list of all reported metrics includes:
- MP: Minutes Played
- SC%: Scoring Chances converted (Shots/Goals)
- G/90: Goals per 90 minutes played
- S/90: Shots per 90 minutes played (Shots and Shots on Goal)
- A/90: Assists per 90 minutes played
- Pass%: Passing Percentage (Completed Passes/Total Passes)
- Cross%: Crossing Percentage (Successful Crosses/Total Crosses)
- Tch/TO: Ratio of Total Touches to Turnovers
- Def/90: Defensive Plays per 90 minutes played (Tackles, Blocks, Interceptions, Clearances, Recoveries)
All of the raw data for the computed metrics come from the MLS game "Chalkboards" published by MLSSoccer.com.