Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Oh, Fred, Who Art Thou?

The DCenters posted an excellent article on the value of Gallardo this season. While I agree with most of his reasoning (I am solidly in the Pro-Gallardo camp), I think the more interesting debate is concerning Fred. I thought Fred was dangerous in the game against LA on Sunday, DCUMD gave him bottom marks (rail behind the bar), Goff gave him a 6, BLCKDGRD disagreed with Goff's rating saying he is indecisive and making terrible passes, and D placed him in the Bad section and has vowed to call him F-r-e-* until he finishes something.

So, who is this Fred, and why all the disagreement?

Fred, a Brazilian, joined a DC United team last season that was primed for an MLS Cup run. He was starting by the end of the first month and has been a mainstay in the starting lineup since then. He has been relatively durable, appearing in twenty-six of thirty games last season and twelve of fifteen this season. He can play either side of the midfield and the center. He is left right footed and makes excellent cut back runs to the center which really put the defense on their heels. He is a deft dribbler in tight spaces and doesn't go down easily. Memories of his 2007 season are positive. He finished with seven goals and eight assists and DC United won the Supporter's Shield. So, he is associated with excellent play and winning results.

In 2008, Fred's statistics are down from last season's pace, but so are United as a whole. He has created numerous chances and this has resulted in a large portion of his criticism. Is it enough to generate chances for yourself and others if those chances don't result in goals? My guess is that the Pro-Fred crowd would say yes, it is enough to be dangerous and keep the defense on their toes. The Anti-Fred crowd would say no, finish something. Fred seems to be one of the most talented players on the team, so much is expected from him. If Fred goes a half, a game, a few games without tangible results, the scrutiny is ratcheted up. Then, each missed pass, each unpulled trigger in the box, each ball skied over the goal, is magnified, dissected, and regurgitated. If Fred was less talented or less likable, I think his poor play would be rationalized, much like Josh Gros was. Gros was a hard worker who was limited offensively. If Gros produced a total of six goals and assists for the year, or one a month, the masses would have been happy. Not so with Fred, who last season averaged 2.5 goals/assists a month and is now on a 1.3 goals/assists a month pace.

So which side are you on? Happy with Fred, or left needing more?


Jeremy said...

The chemistry that Fred and Emilio have can not be over rated. Without Fred in the game, Emilio struggles. It happenned last year, and it happenned this year.
This year was compounded by Emilio being out of shape and possibly unmotivated, so that loss of Fred was overlooked.
Even without Emilio, having a quality winger who is able to work the ball into the box and perform some nice 1-2 combinations with the strikers to set up chances is essential.
Do I wish that he would finish the chances that he has for himself? Yes.
It is no coincidence that the team started winning as soon as Fred came back from injury, though.

I would absolutely love to see Fred moved into the middle and to see a DP winger who can actually cross into the box and create some danger on FK / corners. There are so few good wingers in this league.

Anonymous said...

Minor niggle: Fred is right-footed, and dominantly so. For now at least, this contributes mightily to his inherent discomfort on the left wing.

JCM said...

Corrected. I must have had Burch on the brain.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say cutting back to the center is a good thing given he is a winger. It really hampers the wide play.

Jesse said...

Great point about Josh Gros. My feeling is that Fred contributes a great deal to controlling the ball in the other team's half. Fred's biggest problem is that he doesn't have a nose for goal, which is not too much of a problem on a team with Emilio and Moreno waiting around to pick up the scraps.

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