Earlier this year, I wrote an article analyzing Player Ratings at the halfway point of the season. Nothing too shocking came of it except that Corey Baird made a splash and Nick Rimando seemed to take a dip from last year.
Now I calculated the averages at season’s end and I surprised even myself.
Before I get into it, I acknowledge my own bias and recognize that my player ratings are completely subjective. I have a criteria that I follow for everyone regardless of the outcome of the game and do my best to apply the criteria to each player equally. In this list, I only included players that played 11 games or more, but I will take note of players that did not see much time on the field but still ended up with notable ratings.
Also, a player that comes out on top is not necessarily the player that I think was RSL’s most valuable player in 2018. After looking at these average ratings over the course of a season, I realized that these ratings probably tell us more about consistency and reliability than who is the best soccer player. For example, are Bofo and Sunny really the 4th and 5th best players on this team? That’s up for debate.
In order from lowest to highest, here they are:
16) Pablo Ruiz - Let’s be honest, Ruiz had a couple of poor showings that really hurt him. He had some flashes that made me wonder what his future could be, but has not really found his rhythm.
15) Nick Besler - Nick saw way more time on the field than any of us expected this year, I think we can all agree on that. He also played in a position that is not necessarily his preferred position. He had some good games. He had some bad games. But mostly he had some pretty average performances.
15) Luis Silva - Silva flourishes when he sees consistent minutes. We saw that from him in 2017. This year, for whatever reason, he just did not play as much.
14) Marcelo Silva - Silva had some trouble marking on set pieces that lowered his score, but he was typically pretty decent.
13) Nick Rimando - Over the course of his time at RSL, Rimando has made some incredible saves nearly every game. Did we see some of that this year? Absolutely. But we did not see that quite as much this year. I think it also hurt his ratings that RSL had multiple games in which they let three, four, or five goals in the net.
12) Justen Glad - Glad ended up at 12 for no other reason than he had kind of a slow start to the year. He was not as good on the ball as we were used to early on which caused problems. Then he was consistently pretty good after about the 6th or 7th game. Why he was not starting in the Playoffs is beyond me.
11) Brooks Lennon - Listen, for a kid that pretty much learned a new position this year, he did well. He pretty consistently got ratings of about a 6. That’s not bad at all for a defender.
10) Danny Acosta - Acosta got limited minutes this year for reasons we are mostly unaware of, but when he played he was reliably good. Outside of the first game in Dallas when he made a poor decision not to clear the ball, he played his position really well.
9) Kyle Beckerman - Beckerman is an American hero and my favorite RSL player of all time. That said, his speed is not what it used to be. On the flipside, there were a few games in which he forced RSL to suck it up and battle on. He is a leader, plain and simple.
8) Aaron Herrera - Herrera’s sample size is smaller than most given that Herrera did not play an MLS minute until RSL’s 21st game against Colorado. But he played in every game after that and played reliably well except for the game at LAFC in the regular season and RSL’s last game in the Playoffs against Sporting KC. For all the complaints about RSL playing players out of position, he played in his position and he was really good at it. He was one of the better players on the field in a lot of games.
7) Corey Baird - In limited minutes, Baird did some pretty amazing things. Especially considering this was his rookie year. In just 1,900 minutes he scored eight goals and notched five assists. I am pretty sure there is no other rookie in the league that had a better season.
6) Jefferson Savarino - Much like Glad, Savarino had a slow start to the season. A flip switched around game 12 and he was killing it. He then tapered off again towards the end. He ended the regular season with seven goals and 11 assists.
5) Bofo Saucedo - In what might be the biggest surprise of these year end ratings, Saucedo came in at five. Saucedo was RSL’s first (or only) guy off the bench in many games. He consistently came on and pushed the tempo. He also had somewhat of a breakout year. He played in 28 games and ended up with three goals and five assists in the regular season and then tagged on another goal in RSL’s final game.
4) Sunny - This high of a ranking for Sunny surprised me a bit, and then I got to thinking. As pointed out in the Salt Lake Tribune article from Alex Vejar, RSL tended to win when Sunny was on the field. He did not score any goals this season, and he only picked up one assist, but he is an engine that is incredibly good with the ball in tight spaces. One caveat to this rating is that he saw less minutes than Baird. But when he was on the field, he got results.
3) Albert Rusnak - The margin between the top players on this list is razor thin. Rusnak came in at number three. Simply put, there were plenty of games in which Rusnak was incredible and then a few games in which he was hard to find. There are a few reasons for that, but overall an excellent season and deserves his contract extension (if rumors are to be believed). 10 goals and seven assists for the Slovakian in season play and a killer goal in the Playoffs.
2) Joao Plata - It is pretty hard to argue that Plata was not a consistent threat when he was on the field. Statistically, he was better than he was in 2017 based on goals scored (8) and assists (8). That does not include the two assists he got in KC to end the year. Plata always gets some looks at goal and in every game he is able to get forward. He looks comfortable in his position and rarely if ever gets lost on the field. I think the strongest reason he ended up with the second highest rating is just that - you know what you will get from Plata and he is difficult to stop.
1) Damir Kreilach - Kreilach (my choice for 2018 RSL MVP) came to RSL late in preseason and took a while to get comfortable going forward. Once he did, watch out. The fact that he ended up ranked first after taking a while to get accustomed to the league speaks volumes. 12 goals and eight assists is impressive for any player under any circumstances. Then he was RSL’s MVP in the Playoffs as well. Kreilach, by all accounts, is a leader and will do anything for the team. I look forward to watching him play for years to come.