Editor's note: We have asked Chris Gluck to contribute the following article comparing Jack Jewsbury and Diego Chara's role in Caleb Porter's system.
Is it as simple as saying they both play different positions and have different roles this year?
Perhaps it is - here are some initial thoughts on how they might be different.
Jack Jewsbury, when playing at the CDM position, has taken up the anchor position in front of the back four while most recently moving on to the right fullback position; a role I would offer he is probably better suited to given the results this past weekend. Jack, offers up veteran leadership, vision, patience, and a good deep cross/switch from high up into the attacking third.
Diego Chara, on the other hand, is playing what I would call a 'right side "box-to-box" midfielder - someone who has to log many miles on the pitch and stay switched-on much more than a right fullback. Diego Chara offers extensive energy and logs tons of miles per game, with no fear, and after Saturday offered up something I have rarely seen from him before - a wicked right peg that delivered a brilliant cross to Johnson.
So at first glance it might appear that both players do have different roles and responsibilities but I would submit that they also have something in common that is a strength as well as weakness.
Aye, it's pretty much known by most that Diego Chara has a penchant for fouling. More later on his stats; but what about Jack?
To answer that I had to do a bit of digging when Jack practiced his wizardry in Kansas City. On average, in his time there, Jack conceded about 35 fouls per year with around 5-6 Yellows. This trend during his time at Kansas City has not changed since joining Portland. For those counting, last year he had 36 fouls conceded with 5 yellows and in 2011 (oddly enough) he had the same number fouls conceded and yellow cards.
So what are the dirty details on Diego? Diego took the Gold Medal last year with 72 fouls, 10 Yellow Cards, and 1 Red Card. This equated to three suspensions (I think) and roughly 270 minutes of non-playing time as a starter. For the statistics types that's just over 2 fouls per game and roughly 1 Yellow per 3 games. Not to say the trend is continuing this year, but after five games played, Diego already has 12 fouls conceded with 1 Yellow.
Forecasting that over the course of the remaining 29 games that is about 81 fouls and 7 Yellow cards. I would submit that he is probably on track to take the Gold Medal for fouls again this year. As for Jack, well, he seems on track to garner around 34 fouls. To date he has no Yellows and four fouls; right on track.
How does this similarity fit with Porters style of play?
On a possession based, ground attack game, stoppages in play can work against the team and not for them... the more stoppages the less rhythm a team might sustain. For me a great example of rhythm was that 21 consecutive pass combination by Portland against Houston on Saturday. So if an opponent is trying to establish a possession based attack an occasional (non-flagrant) foul, in the right place, might be a good thing. However, getting a Red Cards is NOT a good thing.
As an example I would bet that crafty Kinnear (in hindsight) is probably wishing one of his players had fouled someone during that 21 pass combination. Usually Houston are known for the stop-start type of games that look to disrupt the opponents style of play and they have had great success in the past doing so.
I would say that Caleb likes the disruptions in play his players offer (when fouls are conceded in areas of minimal danger) when Portland doesn't have the ball. The tough part is managing them.
Fouls in the attacking half of the pitch versus defending half of the pitch.
The danger, and similarity between Diego and Jack is that both have a defensive role as well as supporting role in attack. With Diego Chara now playing a wee bit higher up the pitch it may be that 1/2 of his fouls (or less) are conceded in the defending half of the pitch - compared to his role last year this could be viewed as a good thing in 'disrupting the opponent before they penetrate the defensive side of the pitch.
On the other hand, however, that might still mean about 40 potential free kicks (set-pieces) awarded to the opponent in our defending half if Chara holds true to his previous trends. Is that a risk Caleb Porter is willing to take; at this time it appears yes. If it wasn't perhaps we might see Ben Zemanski in that right midfielder role; last year with Chivas Ben had only 24 fouls and 3 yellow cards.
Now with Jack, the risk is almost as high as Diego. As the right fullback 'or' defensive anchoring midfielder it is likely that all of Jack's fouls conceded this year will be in the defending half of the pitch. So that could be as many as 35/36 potential free kicks (set-pieces).
Likewise here, a reasonable assumption might be that a 'less risky option' is Ben Zemanski; who can play Jack's role too.
A difficult and frustrating thing for a head coach is watching his team yield set-pieces in the defending third; set-pieces can win you games and can lose you games. Porter does have an option to run Ben Zemanski in either role yet he has chosen not to. So for me I think and feel both players are suited to Porter-ball for both their differences and their similarities.
What are your thoughts?