One-man armies: The 5 most irreplaceable stars in MLS
Every MLS team has its go-to players and top stars. They range from Sebastian Giovinco for Toronto FC and Bastian Schweinsteiger for the Chicago Fire, at the top of the table, to Bill Hamid and Kevin Molino for D.C. United and Minnesota United, respectively, at the bottom.
But which stars go beyond the normal “go-to player” role and become an absolutely invaluable piece to their teams?
Toronto has shown it can win with Giovinco out. Chicago has proved it’s flexible enough to get results without Schweinsteiger, Dax McCarty and David Accam.
But some teams look completely different when certain players aren’t on the field.
Here are the five most irreplaceable players in Major League Soccer:
5. Ignacio Piatti, Montreal Impact
The Montreal Impact advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last year using a counter-attacking style that emphasized its strengths, unbalancing teams with Piatti on one wing and Dom Oduro on the other. It was a pick-your-poison approach – teams couldn’t afford to be isolated on either of those two wings.
Make no mistake, though: Montreal is a difficult team to defend mostly because of Piatti, who is capable of creating goals and scoring them on his own. If you take Piatti out of this team, Montreal suddenly becomes a much more manageable adversary to deal with.
The Impact lack a player who is able to create multiple opportunities for those around him. Dating back to August 2014, Montreal is 3-9-8 when Piatti doesn’t play (0.85 points per game) and averages 1.5 points per game when he is on the field.
4. Cyle Larin, Orlando City
The Lions got a look at a potential future without the third-year striker when he recently missed three games due to a DUI arrest. Orlando City was able to net three goals in the first game, but managed just one in the next two and failed to win in any of those outings. Orlando City just doesn’t have enough firepower on the roster, and it’s especially depleted when Larin isn’t playing.
The Canadian has 39 goals over the past two and a half seasons. The next closest player on the roster: Kaká, with 21. After that? Carlos Rivas with seven. If Orlando loses Larin, it doesn’t have a forward that puts a scare into teams – and that fact should put a scare into Lions fans.
If you take Larin out of this team, it’d be difficult to see a path to the playoffs for the third-year franchise. When you consider the cost of replacement and Larin’s current value, it only adds to importance of the young finisher in Orlando.