Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Cristian Maidana

Photo: Earl Gardner

How is it that a team that capitulated so easily to Columbus and Chicago just in the last two weeks can somehow consistently play with and beat one of MLS’s premier teams, Sporting Kansas City? If it weren’t clear before, the Union are now officially KC’s bogey team. And it was a win that Philadelphia needed greatly, if only to leave a good taste in supporters’ mouths after the last home game of the season.

Of course, none of that matters here, per se, in the Player of the Week column. And it’s only appropriate that in a win that showcased all the promise of the Union’s mid-summer surge (not to mention that of the offseason and early games), the key man was one of the top players from that period, Cristian Maidana.

Either side of the World Cup break, in June and July, Maidana went on a tear, averaging better than an assist a game. But starting with July 16th’s win over New York, Maidana went 13 games with just one. Part of that time he was injured and/or not seeing the field at all, but the fact remains that when he was in the lineup, he failed to produce at the same level as previously.

Until Saturday.

Twice against Sporting, Maidana showed his ability to find space in the final third, as well as his ability to pick out teammates in good positions: first Brian Brown, then Pedro Ribeiro. Both goals looked remarkably similar, with Maidana moving right, into the opposition box, then crossing into the area in front of the six-yard box, where both shots were finished into the near post. Both crosses came from Maidana’s weaker right foot, as well, something he might try and remember the next time Andrew Wenger or someone else puts him in one-on-one with a goalkeeper.

With one game remaining, Maidana sits on 11 assists for the season, putting him sixth on the MLS leaderboard, behind only some very big names—Obafemi Martins (tied with Maidana), Javier Morales, Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane, Diego Valeri, and Landon Donovan—and an assists-per-90-minutes rate of 0.55, which trails only Donovan’s 0.65 for players with more than four assists or real gametime (Jermaine Jones has four assists in the six MLS games he has yet played, for a per-90 rate of 0.66, something he is unlikely to sustain over the course of a full season).

In short, this was the Maidana that was promised in the offseason, and that was seen in glimpses in the middle of the season, when Jim Curtin’s days as coach were few. If Curtin, or whoever coaches the Union next season, can find a way to get this Maidana on the field most days, the Union has a potent weapon in its arsenal; one of several.

Next season will see whether he and the rest of the squad can put it together in ways they failed to this year, but this week, one thing is clear: Cristian Maidana is PSP’s Player of the Week.

7 Comments

  1. Chaco!!

  2. OneManWolfpack says:

    I’m on the fence with Chaco. On one hand, he’s the best playmaking option we have (other than Nogs), he’s left footed, and yes, he’s a DP… but financially he’s not killing the club. On the other hand, he seems to tire quickly, he’s opposed to any real physical play (something important in MLS), and it was just his first year in the league.
    .
    If another option was available, I could see spending his money elsewhere, but I would like to see him in year two… as I think he’d be better.
    .
    As for the KC game this past weekend, he was good, and deserved to be spotlighted. We need more of this Maidana in 2015

  3. Definitely a keeper. He’s not fast, and not particularly physical, though with the way he handles the ball at his feet, he’s still tough to dispossess. We need a player like that with passing ability, creativity, and a solid free kick and corner kick.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Ok agreed, but he really needs to learn how to score and not just come close ALL THE TIME!!

      • agreed. I think he and Noguiera both need to offer some more goals next year. not a lot. but some more.

      • Agree. I think year 2 will be better for both. They both know what to expect now, and in Nog’s case he’ll actually have some rest going into next year. (I don’t remember if Chaco was coming in directly from being in the middle of a season elsewhere or not; I know Nog was, though, and it showed as the year went on.)

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