It is probably too soon for speculation, especially since we're only beginning to experience the jubilation of heady playoff anticipation, but I'm fueled by morbid curiosity and imagine I'll forget this idea of I don't put it out into the world. I've occasionally shared some thoughts in comments about which players I expect or do not expect to return next season. Given the often fortuitous failures of my past predictions ('sup Jack, Futty, Wallace...), I can't take my prognostications too seriously, thankfully. My thoughts were based on observations but I'm a novice of the sport, not ever-vigilant, forgetful, and as prone as anyone to allowing emotion to overcome my better judgement. That said, I thought I'd try to encourage someone with more free time, analytical prowess, statistical expertise, and spreadsheet mojo to work up a thorough assessment of our roster to determine if there is any relatively objective way to judge past performance as an indication of future potential.
I figured MLS Chalkboard and Galazo Matchcenter could be mined for data along with other sources, but we might also consider age/potential, salary cap hit, existing contract/duration, positional flexibility/utility and fit for the system, depth at position, injury/health/fitness history, and whether their abilities are trending up, down, or leveling off. I'm sure I haven't thought of all the factors, but those came to mind.
I'm interested in this to kill time between the inevitable end of this season and the exciting possibilities of the next, as well as to get some sense of how well we might be able to predict such things. There are players that I wanted to see gone in the past that were shown the door, while others remained and proved me wrong. Then there are Lovell Palmer and Kris Boyd, enigmas like Mobi Fehr and Ryan Kawulok, and contentious cases like Franck Songo'o. Who would have thought that Futty would be a starting center back when, at the beginning of the season, he was practicing with the kids? Who thought Jack would be our starting right back going into the playoffs? Who had trouble getting their brain around Wallace returning, even for less money? Who thought Donovan Ricketts really would be an upgrade over Troy Perkins? I know many people are better judges of footballer flesh than I am, but I there did seem to be a consensus about many or most of these things.
More recently I've wondered whether Dylan Tucker-Ganges will recover sufficiently from his concussion, if David Horst and Sal Zizzo can work their way back into the starting XI after recovering from injury, if Frederic Piquionne will return for another year, if Mikael Silvestre will play the second year of his contract, if David Meves might replace Jake Gleeson as the 3rd string keeper, if Brent Richards might replace Zizzo as a hybrid forward/winger/right back everyman; if Rauwshan McKenzie, Pa Modou Kah, and Brad Ring are more than stopgaps, and if Kah in particular has transcended his presumably originally intended role as such; will Sebastian Rincon return for another year despite getting an unproductive amount of playing time while on interminable loan here, will Michael Nanchoff's loan spell earn him opportunities, and are there any homegrown/academy players who might get promoted?
Maybe with stats we can get another perspective on positions of need. My sense is that we need a natural left back so Harrington can swap right, or at least someone to develop as his eventual replacement. Is Alhassan going to grow into the sub for Valeri that he's being groomed for? Will Alvas Powell, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, and Jose Valencia be starters next season? Where would Nanchoff fit in? Can Kocic and either Gleeson or Meves be good enough to replace Ricketts when the time comes? Will Brian Gallego join us and, if so, in what position and as a starter or reserve? Who will inevitably be cut to get the roster at or below 30 when Nanchoff returns? Does anyone know of any promising draft picks, free agents, or trade possibilities?
I just thought I'd plant the seed for future discussion here and see if anyone wanted to volunteer to start collecting and organization data. I'm primarily interested in assessing players using some semblance of evidence, rather than conjecture, but maybe we can offer informed or ill-informed opinions and see how those compare with the data. I might like to tackle this myself but I don't have the requisite technical skills and won't have enough time until mid-December. Thoughts?