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Player Focus: The Best MLS Registas


Player Focus: The Best MLS Registas


Goals are football’s purest currency, making strikers the sport’s most valuable commodity. But a shift in the way certain players are appreciated has also signified a change in the value attached to them. Now, more so than ever, the midfielder is king.


But perhaps the most revered brand of this new generation of midfielder is the ‘regista,’ an Italian term for a deep-lying playmaker. Once the inclusion of such a reserved midfielder indicated an intention to break up opposition moves, but now it means so much more.


While Lionel Messi picked up last year’s Ballon d’Or with over 40% of the vote, two such players made the top seven in the voting, Xavi in fourth and Andrea Pirlo in seventh.


Football has come to not just revere the deep-lying playmaker but pinpoint it as the most pivotal position on the pitch, and MLS is no different. While North America’s top tier cannot yet match Europe for its accomplished and sophisticated ‘registas’ there are a number of such players impressing, from Patrice Bernier at Montreal to Michel at FC Dallas. But who comes closest to the standards set by the Pirlos and Xavis of the football world?


In terms of average passes played per game, Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman leads the league, with 68.1. As far as pure ‘registas’ go, Bernier leads the chasing pack, playing an average of 54.2 passes per game, with Sporting KC’s Oriol Rosell not far behind at 52.9.


MLS boasts a number of dynamic playmakers that operate just behind the forwards, like Diego Valeri, Javier Morales and Federico Higuain, but in the modern game these kind of players are given more of the responsibilities traditionally attributed to a forward.


Instead players like Bernier, Michel and Juninho are burdened with the remit of a playmaker. And if goals are the currency of the striker, key passes are the currency of the ‘regista.’ 


Michel leads the MLS ‘registas’ in this column, with an average of two key passes per game, ahead of Juninho on 1.8 per game and his LA Galaxy namesake on 1.6.


The significance of pass success rates can be overplayed but it does illustrate the effectiveness of a midfield pivot, providing the hub of possession. While he may not be a ‘regista’ Osvaldo Alonso maintains the highest rate from midfield in MLS, completing 87.8% of his passes; also the second highest rate of all regulars in the league.


Chara and Will Johnson appear to be providing the Portland Timbers with a dynamic, passing platform in the centre of midfield. The former has recorded a pass success rate of 87.5% this season, with Johnson not far off at 86.7%.So why has this position and role suddenly become so important? What has changed in the past decade or so?


Player Focus: The Best MLS Registas


Coaches have recognized that by planting their playmakers closer to the halfway line, rather than in behind the frontline, they can afford them more time to pick their passes and choose their play.


It is not so much the position that has evolved, but rather the brief given to central midfielders positioned closer to either the defence or the attack that has shifted.By almost forcing the opposition to press the ‘regista’, space is opened up closer to the goal, giving the attackers more chance of fashioning a goal-scoring opportunity.


Of course, while these players may be the ones billed with starting attacking moves they are still important to their team from a defensive perspective, providing a line of resistance in front of the backline when without the ball. And indeed some of the players leading MLS for average tackles made per game are ‘registas’, like Marcelo Sarvas with 4.2 tackles per game, Diego Chara at 3.8 and Benny Felihaber on 3.


In fact, Sporting KC’s Felihaber makes a case for being the league’s best all-round deep-lying playmaker, certainly from a statistical point of view. The 28 year old has coupled his defensive presence with an eye for a pass, making an average of 1.5 key passes per game and boasting a pass success rate of 82%. It is his partnership with Rosell in the centre of the Sporting KC midfield that has provided the platform for teammates like Graham Zusi and Kei Kamara to directly target the opposition backline.


However, Felihaber is let down by his average number of accurate through balls played per game, standing at a measly 0.1. So who leads MLS in this column? It would appear the attacking midfielders have a grip on this standing, with Higuain at the top with an average of 0.9 accurate through balls played per game. Chara, Bernier and Sarvas come closest for the ‘registas’ with 0.4 per game.


One player who has undoubtedly benefitted from the deployment of a ‘regista’ in his team is league joint-top scorer Marco Di Vaio, whose relationship with Bernier has seen him become so prolific this year.


The role of traditional playmaker is still relevant, demonstrated by Higuain who leads the league on key passes and average through balls per game, but in MLS, just like in Europe, a clear distinction between teams with a ‘regista’ and those without is becoming apparent. Strikers may still be king in football, but it’s the ‘regista’ that makes them so.

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Rondon Fabio Borini Patrick Herrmann Jonathan Scmid Kostantinos Fortounis Vincent Pajot Josua Guilavogui Idrissa Gana Gueye Ezequiel Munoz Nene Oliver Sorg Davide Brivio Sebastian Larsson Franceso Totti Tom Trybull M'Baye Niang Jean Daniel Akpa Akpro Matias Silvestre Euro 2012 Olof Mellberg Crisitano Ronaldo Alvaro Arbeloa Sebastian Boenisch Alan Dzagoev Andrey Arshavin Michael Krohn-Dehli Vaclav Pilar Theodor Gebre Selassie Gordon Schildenfeld Greece Miguel Veloso Mark Davies David Hoilett Santiago Garcia Marco Rignoni Vicente Guaita Michael Rensing Paul Robinson Fabien Audard Thomas Vermaelen Younes Belhanda Aurelien Chedjou Nancy St. Etienne Lukas Piszczek Dante Gijon Claudio Pizzaro Racing Santander Jonas Hannover Santander Claudio Pizarro Cesena David Jarolim Joe Cole Moussa Dembele Yakubu Javier Hernandez Leon Best Benat Kaiserslautern Christian Tiffert Paolo De Ceglie Federico Balzaretti Jeremey Menez Juan MGladbach Andreas Ivanschitz Jires Kembo-Ekoko Guillaume Hoarau Florent Malouda Steve Gohouri Kenwyne Jones Lecce Stephen Ireland Jakub Blaszcykowski Christian Fuchs Sloan Privat Abraham Guie Guie Louis Saha Martin Harnik German Bundesliga Grant Holt Ali Al-Habsi Ludovic Sane Aldo Angoula Younes Kaboul Brest Marcelo Stiliyan Petrov mathieu Valbuena Tono Ramirez Gianluca Buffon Emile Heskey John Utaka Markus Rosenborg Marko Arnautovic Jonathan Biabiany Andrea Caracciolo Evian Thonon Gaillard Mohammed Abdellaoue Dijon Anton Ferdinand Fabricio Coloccini Betting Eric Mouloungui Cedric Bakambu Gregory Pujol Eduardo Ribeiro Sebastien Larsson Nolan Roux Bradley Johnson Jamie O'Hara Wes Brown Jason Lowe Jose Enrique Anders Lindegaard Mark Schwarzer Cheik Tiote Alberto Aquilani Danny Murphy Martin O'Neill Modibo Maiga OGC Nice Perparim Hetemaj Alejandro Faurlin Leon Britton Antonio Nocerino Maximiliano Moralez Claudio Marchisio Marco Rigoni Simone Pepe Heidar Helguson Mark Gower Blackburn Emanuele Calaiò Zlatan Ibrahimović Germán Denis Jose Jurado Nicolas Anelka Edgar Barreto Alexandre Song Shaun Wright-Phillips Nicolas Maurice-Belay Jhon Jairo Culma Kevin Anin Sebastien Corchia Kevin Theophile-Catherine FC Cologne Julien Feret Jaroslav Plasil Yann Jouffre Tomas Rincon Kevin Davies Giampiero Pinzi Tamas Hajnal Camel Meriem Frederic Bulot AS Nancy Gabriel Torje Lynel Kitambala Florent Sinama-Pongolle Idriss Saadi Oscar Trejo Botelho Juanlu Axel Bellinghausen Gonzalo Castro Andrea Cossu Marcel Schafer Marco Hoger Timothy Chandler Bolton Wanderers Ivan Klasnic Paris St Germain Wolverhampton Wanderers Wigan Athletic Javi Varas Blackburn Rovers Stephan Lichtsteiner Anotnio Cassano Scott Sinclair Nenad Milijas Anatoliy Tymoshchuk Luis Gustavo Ruud van Nistelrooy Benoit Cheyrou Lucho Gonzalez League Analysis Walter Samuel Christian Chivu AS Roma Stephen Warnock Martin Kelly Gary Caldwell Karl Henry Kevin Doyle England National Football Team Javi Venta Vicente Iborra Sergio Ballesteros Bobby Zamora Jonas Gutierrez Dariusz Dudka Youssouf Hadji Christian Abbiati Alvaro Dominguez Phil Neville Senad Lulic Filip Daems Ezequiel Schelotto Victor Ruiz Jonathan Pereira Anthony Reveillere Santiago Gentiletti Cheikh Diabate Nicolas Spolli Luciano Fabian Monzon Mauricio Isla Ignazio Abate Titus Bramble Leroy Lita Christian Lell Philipp Wollscheid Milivoje Novakovic Tottenhman Hotspur Johan Cavalli Eliseu Serdar Tasci Ryan Babel Aleksandar Ignjovski Chechu Dorado Djamel Mesbah Arsenal Swansea Ashely Williams Piscu Eden Dzeko Emmerson Boyce Auxerre Phil Bardsley Jose Bosingwa Gretar Steinsson Mattia Cassani Jonathan Woodgate Germany National Football Team Gasperini Mauro Zarate Diego Forlan Estaban Cambiasso Juraj Kucka Marco Faraoni Joel Obi Benedikt Howedes Clemens Fritz Chris Lowe Daniel van Buyten Albania Yann M’Vila Baptiste Reynet Angelo Palombo Eric Tie Bi Chris Mavinga Aaron Hughes Chris Baird Raul Aly Cissokho Alessandro Del Piero France National Football Team Marc Tierney Bundelsiga Raul Bobadilla Loric Remy Jean Pascal Mignot Mainz 05 Schalke 04 Marcel Risse Steven Reid Danny Gabbidon Michal Kadlec Paulo Machado Ben Watson Spain National Football Team German National Football Team Bundeslgia Ricardo Carvalho Ivan Ramis Diego Colotto Sergio Fernandez Sere A Cesare Bovo Miguel Britos Bostjan Cesar Jose Angel Gabriel Heinze Chris Samba Charles N'Zogbia Yohan Demont Rod Fanni Rudy Mater Georgios Tzavellas Javier Pinola Dennis Aogo Daniel Schwaab Attacking Full-Backs Defensive Wingers 2010/11 Attacking Wingers Nicolas Douchez Under-21 Team of Season 2010-11 Maxi Rodriguez Scott Dann Crossing Wingers Under-21 Team of Season All-Round Midfielders Benoit Pedretti Rising Stars Kyle Walker Gaetano D'Agostino Centre Backs Paulo Da Silva Ivan Hernandez Eric Abidal Weligton Borja Ekiza Alassane Toure Stephane Grichting Jordan Loties Kader Mangane Adama Coulibaly Pedro Geromel Neven Subotic Christian Zapata Roger Johnson Stephan Lichsteiner Reto Ziegler David Vaughan Seb Larsson Asamoah Gyan Benoit Pedretti Anthony Mounier Simao Duda Alvaro Cejudo Xabi Prieto Alexsandar Kolarov Guiseppe Mascara Simone Bentivoglio Fernando Marques Gian Piero Gasperin Thomas Hitzlsperger Rafael Van der Vaart Theofanis Gekas Gerard Asamoah Youssef Al Arabi Lisandro Loric Remy Victor Hugo Montano Edison Cavani Sergio Pellissier David Di Michele Steward Downing Spain Under 21 Felipe Caicedo Pierre Webo Youssef El-Arabi Brown Ideye Mobido Maiga Chu-Young Robin Van Persie Kevin Gamerio Udinese. Alexis Sanchez Sami Allagui Frédéric Kanouté Renato Augusto Jonathan Pitropia Eljero Elia Ivo Llicevic Diego Perez Alvaro González Abel Hernandez David VIlla Marcel Schmelzer Danijel Pranjic Holger Badstuber Sven Bender Johan Djourou Darren Fletcher Carlos Kameni Thiago Silve Antonia Di Natale Cristiano Zapata Domenico Criscito Luis Jimenez Josep Ilicic Samuel Eto’o Alexis Thébaux Ludovic Sané Mamouda Sakho Boukary Dramé Daniel Alves Nikolay Mihaylov Charles Puyol Ji-Sung Park Edwin van der Sar Dani Alves John O’Shea Park Ji-Jung Gabi Fernandez Jonathan de Guzman Michael Owen Gary Taylor-Fletcher Ian Evatt DJ Campbell Charles N’Zogbia Wolverhampton Avram Grant Conor Sammon Wayne Bridge Rob Green Victor Obinna Mike Hanke Borussia Munchengladbach VfL Bochum Tomasz Kuszczak Martin Olsson Brett Emerton Steven N’Zonzi Muset Ozil Gianpaolo Pazzini Leonardo Seydou Keita Miguel Pallardo Ibrahim Afellay Valdo Pallardo Damien Perquis Luka Modrid David SIlva Benoit Assou-Ekotto Vedran Corluka Saloman Kalou Clarence Seedorf Matteo Brighi Fabio Simplicio Rodrigo Taddei Mark Van Bommel Gennaro Gattuso Kevin Prince-Boateng Nicolas Burdisso Elkin Soto Pep Gaurdiola Antonio da Silva Robert Mak Heurelho Gomes Andre Marriner Pinto Alavro Arbeloa Alexander Hleb

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