Ten Best: Metro wingers
Lindpere and Richards
March 26, 2020
If you had to choose two wingers from Metro's 25 years, who would it be? After some middling options at first (apologies to Brian Kelly and Miles Joseph), our recent run has been rather stellar. So let's go down the top 10. For the list below, we will only consider players who primarily played on the wing. For example, our beloved Titi Henry spent a lot of time on the wing during the 2014 season (and even made the MLS Best XI as a midfielder)... but his primary position was a forward, so we will not count him.
10) Petter Villegas (right)
We really wanted to put Derrick Etienne here (Shield-clinching goal and all), but he career numbers just don't match up. Villegas, who had a short stint in 1996 and featured from 1999 to 2002, scored 15 goals and 24 assists. The enigmatic Ecuadorian was fantastic one day, terrible the next... and definitely memorable. The overtime winner against Tampa in 2000 was an all-timer.
9) Jonny Steele (left)
Pedestrian elsewhere, Steele was a (pun intended!) a steal for Metro's first Shield-winning season in 2013, acquired from Salt Lake for a third-round pick. In league play, he started 32 games that year and scored five... including the last one in the 5:2 win over Chicago that got Metro's first ever hardware.
8) Alex Muyl (right, some left)
Yes, really. So far, his totals stand at 138 games, 13 goals, and 20 assists. Relentless on defense, and incredibly clever on the edges -- how many times has he saved the ball from going out to create a goal? Amazingly, when he scores, Metro's record is 10-1-1. Now if he could only shoot straight.
7) Mark Chung (left)
Chung's better MLS years were elsewhere, but his three seasons with Metro were solid: 98 games, 13 goals, 28 assists. Two of those goals came in the playoffs, including the winner in the must-win 2000 semifinal against Chicago. Chung did not love how Octavio Zambrano used him, call his position the "idiot left wing". At least it got him on this list.
6) Mike Grella (left, some right)
When Metro signed him in 2015, we were not excited. This was a player who put down MLS fans... and then failed a trial with the lowly Cosmos. Oh, how wrong we were. A striker elsewhere, Grella started 30 league games in the 2015 Shield-winning season. Among his accolades was the 1000th goal in Metro history, a winner on a blast against Columbus, and the fastest goal in league history, seven seconds into a 4:1 win over Philly.
5) Dane Richards (right)
The fastest player in the league, the Jamaican burned up the right flank from 2007 to 2012. The highlight? Oh, it's obvious: the Dane Richards Game, when he scored one and created two others in Metro's 3:0 playoff shocker at Houston in 2008. That is still easily one of the five best individual performances in team history. Richards came back for a cup of tea in 2015, but it wasn't the same.
4) Lloyd Sam (right)
Proof that we shouldn't judge midseason signings until they get an offseason under their belt: Sam was pedestrian when he came on board in 2012. A year later, he took five shots on goal... and scored on all of them, including one that turned out to be the Shield winner in the aforementioned 5:2 gem. His totals in all competition stood at 126 games, 24 goals, 26 assists. We're still annoyed that he ended his MLS career with the Scum... a team he constantly tortured during his time with Metro.
3) Dave van den Bergh (left)
Acquired for what amounted to a seventh-round pick in the best trade in team history, the Walking Dutchman wasn't exactly fleet of foot... but boy, did he deliver when it mattered. MetroFanatic Hero of the Year in 2008 scored what was then the biggest goal in team history, the lone tally in the 1:0 win against Salt Lake that put Metro in its first (sadly, still only) MLS Cup. Still the best crosser of the ball in team history.
2) Joel Lindpere (left)
Estonian. Team MVP in 2010. MetroFanatic Hero of the Year in 2010 and 2011. Scorer of the first goal at Red Bull Arena -- twice. Alas, his desire to visit all 50 US states fell somewhat short. 104 games, 17 goals, 18 assists do not tell the full story of his awesomeness.
1) Daniel Royer (left, some right)
Double-digit goals in three straight seasons. Deadly penalty taker. Already 4th all-time in team history with 47 goals. (Sam's 24 is second best for a winger.) Key part of the Shield win and perhaps the best individual playoff performance in team history in 2018. Team MVP and MetroFantic Hero of the Year in 2019. When he is on, so is the team's attack... let's hope we see some of that in 2020.