The Chicago Fire strengthened their midfield last Friday by acquiring Joel Lindpere from New York. As Ryan mentioned in a post yesterday, Joel Lindpere recently spoke with Jeff Crandall about his move to Chicago and how he plays better in the center of the midfield. Head coach Frank Klopas also mentioned this same sentiment in the official press release from the Chicago Fire website:
"He’s a guy that knows the league and brings a lot of international experience," head coach Frank Klopas told Chicago-Fire.com Friday. "He’s an all-around solid player and last year I didn’t agree with how New York played him out wide. I think the times where he did really well were when he played inside as a box-to-box guy.
I was curious to see how much of a difference there was between Lindpere playing out wide and playing centrally, so I gathered some of the more important offensive statistics from the OPTA chalkboards at the Major League Soccer website. Below is what I compiled on Joel Lindpere for the 2012 separated by his position on the field:
Just by looking at the above statistics I would give a slight edge to Lindpere playing centrally. When the amount of time he played at each position is taken into consideration, then the numbers he put up become more impressive. Lindpere only played around a third of his minutes in central midfield. To get a more even view of things, here are those same statistics per 90 minutes:
Per 90 minutes Lindpere was better in every one of these categories when he was in the midfield. To take this a step further and give some context of what level Joel Lindpere was at last season in central midfield, I decided to compare what Lindpere did in 2012 to something recent that all Fire fans are familiar with - Sebastian Grazzini circa 2011:
While he is not as much of a goal scoring threat, nor as much of a chance creator as Grazzini, he has the ability to create as many assists and appears to be able to put in a decent cross. All things considered from the OPTA perspective, Lindpere appears to be a solid player who can add an offensive spark in the central midfield. Whether or not he can provide enough of a spark to take the Fire to the next level remains to be seen.