Best MLS DPs of 2018. Who was the best Designated Player in MLS is 2018? This installment examines the 2018 Designated Players and analyzes the defenders.
MLS Designated Players (DPs) receive more accolades, and more scrutiny, than most every other MLS player. And that makes sense, since the DPs are presumably the best players on their team, are paid the most, and attract the most fans to the games.
Some of the DPs are instantly recognizable. Players like David Villa, Wayne Rooney, and Bastian Schweinsteiger were established stars well before they came to MLS. Others, like Miguel Almiron and Ajejandro Romero — Kaku — have become stars while in MLS. Still others, players like Jonathan Mensah and Santiago Mosquera, remain relatively unknown outside their home team’s city. But all play a key role for their club.
So, in this salary-cap-managed world in which teams are always looking for the best way to squeeze value out of every nook and cranny, it seems sensible to ask: Who was the best DP in 2018?
I have put together a list of all the 2018 DPs with important statistics relevant to the position they play. Many of the stats are from whoscored.com, a site that tracks game action around the world. I also got some information from MLS Soccer and did some calculations of my own.
Who Are The Designated Players?
Here is a list of all 51 Designated Players in MLS in 2018:
Defenders (and Goalkeeper)
Jonathan Mensah, Columbus Crew
Claude Dielna, New England Revolution
Kendall Waston, Vancouver Whitecaps
Brek Shea, Vancouver Whitecaps
Tim Howard, Colorado Rapids
Miguel Almiron, Atlanta United
Ezequiel Barco, Atlanta United
Bastian Schweinsteiger, Chicago Fire
Federico Higuain, Columbus Crew
Pedro Santos, Columbus Crew
Paul Arriola, DC United
Carlos Gruezo, FC Dallas
Santiago Mosquera, FC Dallas
Jonathan dos Santos, LA Galaxy
Romain Alessandrini, LA Galaxy
Andre Horta, LAFC
Ignacio Piatti, Montreal Impact
Maxi Moralez, NYCFC
Kaku Romero, NYRB
Sacha Kljestan, Orlando City
Borek Dockal, Philadelphia Union
Alejandro Bedoya, Philadelphia Union
Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers
Sebastian Blanco, Portland Timbers
Albert Rusnak, Real Salt Lake
Vako Qazaishvili, San Jose Earthquakes
Nicolas Lodeiro, Seatle Sounders
Felipe Gutierrez, Sporting KC
Roger Espinoza, Sporting KC
Yohan Croizet, Sporting KC
Michael Bradley, Toronto FC
Josef Martinez, Atlanta United
Nemanja Nikolic, Chicago Fire
Shkelzen Gashi, Colorado Rapids
Wayne Rooney, DC United
Cristian Coleman, FC Dallas
Alberth Ellis, Houston Dynamo
Giovanni dos Santos, LA Galaxy
Carlos Vela, LAFC
Diego Rossi, LAFC
Darwin Quintero, Minnesota United
Angelo Rodriguez, Minnesota United
David Villa, NYCFC
Bradley Wright-Phillips, NYRB
Dom Dwyer, Orlando City
Jefferson Savarino, Real Salt Lake
Raul Ruidaz, Seattle Sounders
Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC
Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC
First Installment: Best DP Defender
As you can see from the table above, Jonathan Mensah, Claude Dielna, and Kendall Waston are the three “true” defenders of the DPs. Brek Shea is an outlier, as he plays kind of “hybrid” defense-midfield role. All the other three have very good totals for their defensive actions per game, with Dielna having an advantage in tackles and Waston with the edge in clearances.
Waston really separates himself from the others with his offensive output — 5 goals and assists, and all of his were goals. At 6’5″, he is a big target for Vancouver on set pieces. He is also is second passing accuracy among DP defenders and, as the chart shows, is a real value for the number of his defensive actions. Kendal Waston is my MVP among defensive DPs in MLS. Let me know in the comments who is your MVP.
Next Up: The MVP of Midfielder DPs
Be on the lookout for my next article, which shows which midfielder DP was the best in MLS in 2018.