Welcome to Top of the Morning, The Other 87’s very own series of personnel Power Rankings. We take a look at all the action of the last month, and attempt to pick the players who made the best of it.
These are not the five best players in the world, or even the players who performed the best in the last 28 to 31 days. These are the players who improved themselves in terms of perception in the public eye, who made their managers smile, or whose legacy got a nice polish, on the field or off the field, spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically, whatever.
This week, we stop and recognize the Lilliputians of our beloved game. These are the players who sat in the front row for school pictures; who weren’t tall enough to ride the roller coaster; who needed a booster seat well into adolescence. Being small does have its virtues, and our Mighty Mouse Heroes of the Week prove that there’s a spot on the team for every size and stature. Here’s to the Rudy’s of the world.
5. Lionel Messi, Barcelona (5’7”) – Granted, Messi appears on every “Best Of” list imaginable. But he leads La Liga in goals and assists at a paltry 169cm. A brace on the weekend catapulted him into second place on the all-time goal list for Barcelona. And he’s only 24.
4. Dane Richards, New York Red Bulls (5’7”) – The Jamaican international clinched a playoff spot for the Red Bulls on Thursday, heading in off the post for the only goal in a 1-0 win against Philadelphia (officially an own goal, as the ball bounced off goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, but we’re giving our little man the credit.).
3. David Silva, Manchester City (5’7”) – Silva is quickly becoming a mainstay in both his club and national sides. He was the only bright note in City’s 2-1 win over Villarreal on Tuesday and continues to contribute creative play through the middle. He also notched a brace for Spain last week, singlehandedly forcing Scotland out of the competition.
2. Kevin Gameiro, Paris Saint-Germain (5’7”) – PSG are perhaps Europe’s only big spenders to so far justify the money they spent over the summer. New signing Kevin Gameiro secured a hat trick to bring his club three points clear at the top of the table. This will certainly be good news for France as they look forward to Euro 2012.
1. Sebastian Giovinco, Parma (5’4”) –Giovinco tops our list for his contributions to Parma’s surge up the table in the last two matchdays. The diminutive striker scored two and created two more to secure six points out of six for his club (three of which were hard-earned at Napoli). For that, we award him our Little-Engine-That-Could-of-the-week Award.
Bonus Ranking: MLS playoff teams. Games start on Sunday, and even though we’ve had all year to figure it out we’re still not sure how the ten-team format works exactly. We’ll rank them anyway, based on likelihood of coming away with the MLS Cup Nov. 20.
1. Seattle Sounders – Impressive away record, a nice second-layer of depth behind their starters, and most importantly, they’re getting healthy at just the right time, while the Galaxy have been struggling with injuries.
2. Houston Dynamo – My top candidate to pull off the long march from a lower seed to the title. So many people are saying that the Red Bulls could be that team that it almost certainly means they won’t be.
3. Sporting Kansas City – Defense may win championships, but it’s their forward trio of Bravo, Bunbury, and Sapong that will have to be firing for SKC to succeed.
4. FC Dallas – Finally starting to win again after a rough patch. They’d be a firm number two if they were getting Ferreira back to distribute the ball to all those high flying forward/wingers they have.
5. Philadelphia Union – It’s been a full year now, and I’ve still not figured out who Mondragon reminds me so much of. If anyone knows, please let me know @O87Minutes.
6. Columbus Crew – I’m so “mehhhh” on the Crew that they have to go into one of the two middle spots.
7. Real Salt Lake – Only the Revolution are worse in their last five games. Can they start winning when it matters? My vote is no.
8. Colorado Rapids – Apparently I have Rocky Mountain bias. Deal with it.
9. Mystery Squad – It’s who? Ohh. Well in that case, trust me, no one is going to go to sleep on the Red Bulls. If they manage to win out and take the title, it’ll be because they play well to win good games over their opposition.
10. LA Galaxy – Ask 7 of the last 8 Supporters Shield winners how that best record thing worked out for them. Worth pointing out though that they’re undefeated at home, quite an advantage since they’d get to host both the conference championship and the MLS Cup.
The Friday Predictions
Adams: Manchester United 1-1 Manchester City. As good as City look, they haven’t beaten United in the league in quite some time. It’ll be especially difficult to pull it off at Old Trafford. Regardless, they earn a draw through a Toure screamer.
Eric: Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City. What he said up there. But United come out, after a bizarrely added five minutes of stoppage time gives Ashley Young time to find Wayne Rooney’s head in the penalty area.
Wes: Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United. The legendary Fergie injury time magic finally gets a good healthy dose of karma. Kun Aguero with a stoppage time winner.
The Friday Recommendations
Adams: Some Nyquil and a warm glass of milk. Seriously, make sure you’re up for the Manchester derby Sunday morning. Got it? Good. Other than that, Madrarcelona face interesting challenges this weekend – Barca face Sevilla at home, while Madrid travel to La Rosaleda to face Malaga. The latter match should be particularly interesting as Malaga were humiliated 3-0 by Levante and will not want to make a habit of losing on Saturday.
Eric: I wanted to recommend this last week, but we didn’t include the recommendations. So here it goes, Jere Longman’s article on San Marino’s national team. A fascinating story, particularly for me, since my life dream is to one day coach the Faroe Islands squad.
Wes: Community. Community Community Community. If you’re not watching the hilarious NBC sitcom, the jokes on you. Remember what happened with Arrested Development? Party Down? If Community is canceled before their four-year term at Greendale College is over, I’m holding you all personally responsible.