The Halfway Point: Midfield form, shifts lead to RSL improvement

USA TODAY Sports

After playing 17 of our 34 games, we're continuing our look at the squad. With RSL Soapbox writers Kreg Asay, Charles Barnard, Chad Loveland and myself, we've rated and graded our midfield through the halfway point of the season.

Kyle Beckerman

Matt: 8.5. Kyle Beckerman has changed his game once again; he's added more attacking impetus and rarely drops back into the third center back role.

Kreg: 9. Fantastic as we've come to expect!

Charles: A. The Captain is having another great season for the team. 2 goals and 3 assists are respectable but it is his leadership that is his most important quality.

Chad: A. In my opinion he is having his best season to date. He is mentoring the young pups and putting the team on his back and for me has been the most important player for us this year, the team MVP if you will.

Ned Grabavoy

Matt: 8. If one thing has lacked from Ned's game over the years, it's been goals. So, about that ...

Kreg: 8. If we had to lose Johnson, I'm glad we still have Ned! He's one of several who have seriously stepped up their game this year.

Charles: A. Ned is having a career year. His three goals this season match the same amount of goals that he had scored in his previous four seasons with RSL. He is a stabilizing force in the midfield.

Chad: B+/A-. Ned is having a great year overall but he has not been consistent enough (for me) to put him up with the other A grades.

Javier Morales

Matt: 8. Javier Morales, as I live and breathe. He's in good form this season — and while I would have been worried that it was a blip (a good blip, but a blip), he's shown that form over a longer period of time.

Kreg: 9. There's the Javi we all remember!

Charles: A. It is safe to say that Javi is back. 3 goals and 5 assists speak for themselves. But what is even more impressive is that he only played in 73 minutes over the course of the first 6 matches of the season. Team MVP at the halfway mark.

Chad: A. Javi is back! He can be very dominate and his fitness seems much higher than in any of the last 3 or 4 seasons. Very well could end up the MVP for the team for the year.

Luis Gil

Matt: 6. Gil is clearly in a transitional state in his development: He wants to do more, but sometimes, that lands him in a bit of trouble. He showed very, very well for the U-20s, which is certainly encouraging for his development.

Kreg: 7. Mixed blessing. At home he seems to play great, but away not so much.

Chad: B+. Something seems a little off with Gil, I can't quite put my finger on it. He is doing well but I just feel like he could be doing better.

Charles: C+. Luis has had some great moments this season. Both his goals were great. But it seems that he disappears for long stretches of matches. RSL scores a goal every 92.36 minutes that he is on the field. This is by far the highest of all offensive players on the team. When he is not playing the team scores every 34.87 minutes.

Khari Stephenson

Matt: 6.5. Stephenson's only really started to come into his own in the last few weeks, but he's looked an important player for us. Long shots galore!

Kreg: 8. Great addition to the team! Started a bit slow early on as he adjusted, but he looks to have blended in very well now.

Charles: B+. After fighting with injuries for part of the season, Khari has been coming on strong. His strong shot from the outside adds another dimension to the RSL attack.

Chad: B. Khari has been pretty amazing at times but the injuries have really hurt him in the grading so far.

Sebastian Velasquez

Matt: 6.5. Velasquez has been fantastic at times, but he still loses his way every now and then, and he still just runs and runs until he can't run no more. He's got to be a bit smarter with his pressure — it will only help his game.

Kreg: 8. Serious game changer. He can make opponents look absolutely silly; if he learns to meter his power output to play a full 90 I can see him starting more often.

Chad: B-. I hate grading Seba this low. One of my favorite players on the team and maybe that's why my grade is so low but I just feel like he should have grabbed the stater spot. He isn't doing bad per se, I just expect him to do more.

Charles: B. Velasquez has been a sparkplug coming off the bench for RSL. But he really needs to become more consistent with his play. His 3 assists in somewhat limited minutes is a big plus.

Yordany Alvarez

Matt: 6.5. Alvarez has made a good step-up, even if he's sometimes a bit reckless. Spelling Kyle Beckerman is no easy task (B-e-c — oh, wait.) but he does an acceptable job at it.

Kreg: 5. Decent work in the few appearances he's had, but seems very prone to pick up cards (2 yellow 1 red in 8 games).

Chad: B. I don't feel as comfortable with Alvarez as I did last year. I'm not sure if it is because he is less of a liability for getting a red and has lost his edge a bit? For me he has just been OK.

John Stertzer

N/A — Stertzer showed a lot of promise, but a shoulder injury and surgery has ruled him out for at least most of the remainder of the season.

Cole Grossman

N/A — Looked fine for the first team, but a serious concussion set him back. He's getting back into the swing of things now.

Enzo Martinez

N/A — Still waiting for his first RSL appearance. Looked workable when on loan at Carolina Railhawks.

David Viana

N/A — no minutes played with the first team in 2013. Also, stepovers.

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