Torsten Frings is done for the year. Should he be done at TFC for good?
There is no question that Frings brings a quality that few athletes that have played in Toronto (in any sport) have ever brought. He was a key member of one of the glory national team squads and is likely the second most talented soccer player to ever play for Toronto FC/Lynx/Blizzard/Metros-Croatia/Metros/City.
But, has he been worth the money? Has he performed to the point that a DP should have in a salary cap league? And, how much will his hip surgery impact his 35-year-old body?
These are the questions that Toronto needs to address and address honestly. Perspectives about what Frings was do not belong in the conversation, and the opinion of average fans (who will likely lose his or her you-know-what at the suggestion of Frings being forced out), cannot be considered.
Whether you trust the current football management team is irrelevant to the core point that no team can be successful without the ability of management to make autonomous decisions to build a club in their image. So, for the purpose this discussion it’s beyond pointless to talk about Paul Mariner, “hoofball” or any other issue people might have with the disaster that is TFC currently.
To analyze the usefulness of Frings we need to look at Frings' play. And, then we need to compare it with the play of other players at the club that play a similar role.
As a defensive midfielder Frings is most comparable to Terry Dunfield. So, looking at games since August let’s look at how Frings has performed in comparison to everyone’s second favourite former Whitecap on TFC.
Using the Opta stats available on MLSsoccer.com, CSN looked at four statistical categories that are key to a holding midfielder’s game – passing efficiency, “key” passing (a clinical pass that produces a clear scoring opportunity), intercepting opposing passes, and recovering loose balls. We focused on games since Aug 1, excluding the most recent Kansas City game (when Frings was shut down for season).
There are five games, four of which both players played in.
With passing efficiency, Frings made 171 successful passes on 251 passing attempts for a passing efficiency rate of 68.1 percent.
Meanwhile, Dunfield went 188 for 219, which is a passing efficiency rate of 85.8 percent.
Not all passes are created equal, of course. So, we compared what type of passes the two men made. Of Dunfield’s passes we determined that 19 percent could be considered low risk (for the purpose of this measure we considered a pass to be low risk if it was less that 10-meters, or backwards towards TFC’s own goal).
Frings numbers show 17.1 percent of low risk passes. So, we have a high risk passing percentage of 51 percent for Frings and 66.8 percent for Dunfield.
One area that Frings clearly came out ahead was in the category of key passes. Frings made eight clinical passes that lead to scoring chances, versus just three for Dunfield.
The ability to read the play and intercept the opposition’s play is a arguably the most important (and least seen) aspects of a holding mid’s job. During August, both players made nine interceptions.
The measure of recoveries – gobbling up loose balls to regain possession – is as close to a work rate measure as you can find. The numbers for August? Frings 32, Dunfield 27.
Frings, of course, brings an experience and leadership value that can’t be measured by Opta stats. The question TFC needs to ask is whether that value is worth more than the other important numerical value we’re yet to discuss.
$2,322,666.66 (or, if you prefer, a $264,000 cap hit) – the difference in salary between the two players.
(HT to Kurt Larson of the Sun, who started this debate 5-days ago)