Mid-Day Musings: On Emilio-Angel, Honduran prospects and more

Mid-Day Musings: On Emilio-Angel, Honduran prospects and more

Major League Soccer

Mid-Day Musings: On Emilio-Angel, Honduran prospects and more

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Luciano Emilio (AP) 

It's a slow day on the news front, at least today relative to Tuesday's menu of car-bombings, outed affairs and the most recent Mexican player shooting. The days after the close of the winter transfer window usually are on the slow side, but there are some topics to discuss.

I will be looking to post the latest installment of Your Questions Answered shortly, but I wanted to go over a few things to give you all something new to discuss. Let's get started:

PAYNE MISSES MARK COMPARING ANGEL AND EMILIO

D.C. United Kevin Payne is one of the most well-respected front office folks in Major League Soccer, but he lost the plot with his recent comments comparing now-former D.C. United striker Luciano Emilio and New York Red Bulls striker Juan Pablo Angel.

"Luciano Emilio was a DP and he scored a lot more goals than Juan Pablo Angel," Payne told ESPN.com. "Some people questioned whether Luci was a DP. You've got to look at the numbers. He scored 50-plus goals for us in all competitions."

What Payne seems to have forgotten was that many of those goals came in Emilio's first MLS season, when he actually wasn't a Designated Player. In the two seasons Emilio spent as a Designated Player, he produced 21 goals in 54 MLS matches, a good scoring rate but hardly a dominating rate playing in one of the league's better offenses. To Emilio's credit, he did post seven goals outside MLS competition and did help D.C. United win a U.S. Open Cup in 2008, but D.C. United also missed the playoffs both years Emilio was on the books as a DP.

Emilio scored more combined goals than Angel during his three seasons with D.C., but he also benefited from playing in more than two dozen more matches than Angel thanks to D.C.'s involvement in competitions such as the Champions League and SuperLiga. Ultimately, when you break down just MLS matches (including playoffs), Angel has scored 47 in 78 matches in three seasons while Emilio managed 41 in 83 matches.

Emilio deserves credit for being such a productive forward during his time in MLS, but he was always an inferior forward to Angel and the fact remains that when Emilio was a Designated Player he was a disappointment. That is ultimtely why he is no longer with D.C. United. To imply that he was a better Designated Player signing than Angel, the most productive and most successful DP in terms of on-field production in MLS history, is a serious stretch.

The reality is that you would be hard-pressed to find an MLS team that wouldn't have preferred Angel over Emilio at any point in Emilio's three seasons in MLS. Something tells me even Payne himself would have swapped Emilio for Angel if given the chance.

CHINA A NEW COMPETITOR FOR MLS

You wouldn't think of the Chinese Soccer Leagues as being in competition with MLS for players, but recent news that Honduran national team players Jerry Palacios and Mauricio Sabillon have gone to play in China leaves me wondering how that happened. Palacios and Sabillon are two highly-regarded players in Central America and would certainly be able to help teams in MLS, but both departed for China after taking part in Honduras' 3-1 exhibition win against the United States.

It is one thing to be outbid by Europe for players such as Wilson Palacios, Maynor Figueroa and Hendry Thomas, but losing Honduran prospects to China makes you wonder if this is a sign of things to come. It could just be a passing fad, and Palacios and Sabillon could very well still wind up in MLS one day if their Chinese adventure falls flat, but it is something to think about.

To be fair to MLS, it has done well to tap into the Salvadoran market with signings such as Cristian Castillo and Osael Romero, but MLS can't afford to completely be shut out of the Honduran player market because the tiny Central American nation continues to produce good talent.

CHICAGO EYEING MORE ROOKIES

The Chicago Fire scored one of the best hauls at the 2010 MLS Draft, but its collection of rookies could get even better now that undrafted free agents Mark Blades and Jovan Bubonja are in camp.

Blades is a promising fullback prospect whose size (5-foot-6) led to him being passed over on draft day while Bubonja was a highly-regarded goalkeeper prospect who went from top draft candidate in 2009 to undrafted in 2010 after a disappointing senior season at Illinois-Chicago and a lackluster MLS Combine.

Both players face stiff competition to make the Fire roster, but the fire just might wind up finding a gem or two.

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What do you think of these topics? Agree with the Emilio-Angel comparison? Worried about MLS losing foreign prospects to China? Like what Chicago is doing with its pre-season roster?

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