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Beckerman leading MLS in passing, RSL in approach

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Beckerman has consistently been one of the best passing players in MLS. That he's continuing to turn heads is no surprise: His positioning, passing, awareness — it's all top-notch. There are plenty of clubs in top leagues across the world in which he'd be a vital player.

Beckerman's position as the deep-lying playmaker — one I'd say he only truly grew into after the horrid ankle break of Javier Morales in 2011 — makes the team tick over in significant ways. As such, we should expect to see that indicated in a statistical perspective, and see it we do.

Kyle Beckerman leads MLS in average passes per match with 70.6; his closest competitor for that is our very own Javier Morales with 61.7 per match. Now, it's worth considering that nearly every player in the top 10 when looking at passes per match is a defensive midfielder; this shouldn't be too surprising, and it says something about the standard formations which MLS teams deploy. But that Javier Morales is in there is quite remarkable and says something profound about our playing style as well.

Interestingly, Beckerman's passing success rates have decreased when compared to last year, and he's sitting at 82.9 percent — that's not enough to land him close to the top 20 in MLS. But this has an easy explanation: Beckerman is getting into more advanced positions and, as a result, has been in more positions to lose the ball. That, I think, hasn't hurt us in a significant way — at least not his decreased passing rates. But when we look at the shift the midfield has undergone, we can certainly see something significant.

We push forward into the attack more, as is our wont, and it's garnering us goal after goal — that's a good thing — but it does introduce a bit of vulnerability to our side. As we've trudged forward without a definite partner for Nat Borchers, we're left in delicate positions in which an error or two leads to an opposition goal. That would be the case had he a partner, sure, but the rate at which errors are produced should improve. Generally, we've been able to manage that, but it has, at times, sounded the death knells.

But the presence of Beckerman in more advanced positions has been as vital as anything we've done this season. He's leading the team in a renewed approach, and it's not an easy transition. But as we are again the envy of MLS with our style and verve on the pitch, and as it looks like we are in strong positions for all three competitions this season, there's plenty of reason to be encouraged.

Here are some interesting little numbers — check more out at WhoScored.

Name Team Apps A KP Passes Success
Kyle Beckerman Real Salt Lake 20 3 1 70.60 82.9
Javier Morales Real Salt Lake 21(2) 6 3.3 61.70 82.2
Dax McCarty New York Red Bulls 21(1) 2 0.6 55.70 86.1
Osvaldo Alonso Seattle Sounders FC 16 1 0.7 55.20 88.7
Patrice Bernier Montreal Impact 21(3) 5 0.9 54.50 82
Oriol Rosell Sporting Kansas City 25 - 0.8 53.60 84.4
Diego Chara Portland Timbers 22 2 1 52.90 87.5
Nathan Sturgis Colorado Rapids 17(2) 1 1 52.50 85.2
Will Johnson Portland Timbers 20 1 0.9 52.40 86.1
Juninho L.A. Galaxy 25 2 1.7 52.10 84.9