Mid-year Musings: A Look At The Union And MLS At The 2011 Halfway Point

At the halfway mark, the Philadelphia Union sit alone atop the Eastern Conference with 27 points - just 4 points away from their resting place at the end of the 2010 season. They are one of only 3 teams with more wins than draws, one of 3 teams in the East with a positive goal differential, and one of 3 teams unbeaten at home.

We may not be satisfied with the offensive output, we all have concerns about whether the U have enough defensive depth to survive the absence of two players at the same time (which is a distinct possibility as yellow cards mount), and everyone has a strong opinion regarding the inclusion or exclusion of *insert any player not named Faryd Mondragon, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, or Jordan Harvey here* - but Nowak and crew have only lost 4 of 17.

In a city where we call into sports radio every day to voice our innumerable doubts about the best team in baseball, it's easy to get caught up in an argument and let the fun pass us by. Take a breath, enjoy our team, and hit the jump to look at some numbers!

Carlos Ruiz started his stint with Philadelphia tied for 9th on the all-time Major League Soccer scoring chart with Raul Diaz Arce (82 goals) He is now 1 goal behind 8th place Roy Lassiter (88) and 3 behind 7th place Edson Buddle (90). Union color commentator Taylor Twellman is 6th all time with 101 goals. Of the top 35 scorers in MLS history, only Edson Buddle never took a penalty kick.

El Pescadito is 7th all time in being caught offsides (227), 15th in shots (466), and 14th in shots on goal (246 - one fewer than Cobi Jones). He also finds himself 22nd in both fouls committed (352) and fouls suffered (385). Diego Guitierrez, Head of Scouting and Player Development for the Union, is 6th in fouls committed (443).

FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman just set the record for minutes played in MLS, passing Steve Ralston's impressive 33,142. With 371 games played and 366 games started, Hartman will pass Ralston's other records (378 played & 372 started) soon. Faryd Mondragon needs 6 more games to pass Chris Seitz in minutes played by a Union goalkeeper - one of the few team goalkeeping records not already in his possession.

Despite significant turnover from the inaugural roster, only 2 players who have recorded both a goal and assist have been dropped by the Union - Fred da Silva and Alejandro Moreno.

Sebastien Le Toux is tied with Jack Jewsbury for 4th in the league in assists this season (6 each). They trail David Beckham and Davide Chiumiento (7 each) and Brad Davis (9).

Danny Mwanga is close to catching Le Toux on the all-time Union scoring list.
Sebastien Le Toux - 15
Danny Mwanga - 12
Carlos Ruiz - 5
Fred - 4
Jack McInerney - 3
Justin Mapp - 3
Alejandro Moreno - 2
Michael Orozco Fiscal - 2
Danny Califf - 1
Roger Torres - 1
Kyle Nakazawa - 1
Veljko Paunovic - 1
Michael Farfan - 1
Gabriel Farfan - 1
Jordan Harvey - 1
Shea Salinas - 1
Keon Daniel - 1

No one is close to catching Le Toux on the all-time Union assist list.
Sebastien Le Toux - 17
Alejandro Moreno - 7
Danny Mwanga - 6
Roger Torres - 6
Justin Mapp - 5
Jordan Harvey - 2
Sheanon Williams - 2
Kyle Nakazawa - 2
Danny Califf - 1
Fred - 1
Michael Farfan - 1
Veljko Paunovic - 1

Of the players who have seen playing time this season, 5 have never recorded a goal or assist as a Union player:
Faryd Mondragon
Carlos Valdes
Brian Carroll
Amobi Okugo
Stefani Miglioranzi *

* As I mentioned on the Twitter, Perry Kitchen has scored more goals for the Union than Stefani Miglioranzi.

The Union have been awarded 4 penalty kicks in their history. All four were converted by Sebastien Le Toux (he went to the goalkeeper's left three times last year and Jon Busch's right this year).

Carlos Valdes, Danny Mwanga, and Jordan Harvey have collected 4 yellow cards each. A 5th yellow card would mean a suspension, though if a player can make it 3 games without another card, one is wiped from the record (one time deal for each player). Danny Mwanga met this requirement last week and is technically sitting on 3 cards with Brian Carroll, Danny Califf, and Sheanon Williams.

Team record when Danny Mwanga goes full 90: 1-2-1. 8 shots, 2 goals scored, 1 assist **
When he starts but is subbed off: 2-1-1. 2 shots, no goals, no assists.
When he comes off of the bench: 3-1-3. 8 shots, 3 goals, 1 assist.
When he doesn't play: 1-0-1

** 1 win, 4 shots, 2 goals, 1 assist vs Toronto FC

33 players have scored 4 or more goals this MLS season (including Carlos Ruiz and Danny Mwanga), only 5 of them are Designated Players - Landon Donovan (8), Thierry Henry (8), Andres Mendoza (7), Eric Hassli (6), Alvaro Fernandez (4).

40 players have recorded 3 or more assists this season (including Sebastien Le Toux), only 4 of them are Designated Players - David Beckham (7), Fredy Montero (4), Thierry Henry (4), Fabian Castillo (3).

9 field players have played every minute of every game for their club (including Carlos Valdes and Sebastien Le Toux), none of them are Designated Players. 8 goalkeepers have played every minute of every game (Faryd Mondragon is one of them).

Is fan sentiment starting to turn the corner for Ruiz? Think the defensive midfielders have a friendly wager going to see who will score first? Will the Union bring in a Designated Player when our seats are already full and there seem to be plenty of other players with smaller salaries capable of performing at a high level? Leave your thoughts below!