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D.C. United season review: Sean Franklin

How about position conversions?

Sean Franklin’s 2017 season was a departure from the norm. For the first time since 2009 he played in fewer than 20 matches, appearing just 19 times in an injury-shortened season. He also began this season playing center back after having played right back for most of his career. The unusual circumstances make it more difficult to rate his season and determine whether he should be a part of this team going forward.

We learned that Ben Olsen wanted to see Sean Franklin at center back in the preseason, when he said “[Franklin] is a lot stronger than people give him credit for. He’s good in the air. I think he has the skill-set to play that position. He hasn’t had a lot of time in that position, so he needs some of that.” While Franklin is a good passer, completing just more than 75% of his passes each of the last two seasons, his aerial numbers contradict Olsen’s claim that he’s good in the air. Last season Franklin won 21 of 53 aerials, a success ratio of 39.62%, and that number improved slightly to 44.90% this year, but that was still behind players like Nick DeLeon (51.92%) and Taylor Kemp (56.36%), and about equal with Lloyd Sam (44.44%), none of whom are considered good in the air. Franklin began the year as a starting center back, but that lasted just three games: a 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City, a 4-0 loss at NYCFC, and a 2-0 loss to Columbus.

Franklin spent the rest of 2017 predominantly playing his natural position. Over the course of the season, his tackling improved from a success ratio of 69.70% in 2016 to 76.47%, though his interceptions per 90 minutes fell from 2.24 to 1.40. He’s also one of the most secure players with possession, being dispossessed 1.59 times per 90 minutes, 4th on the team among players with 900+ minutes (Chris Korb, Steve Birnbaum, Kofi Opare.)

Sean Franklin is turning 33 in March of 2018, and he carries a guaranteed salary of $283,000 after signing a multi-year contract in December of 2016. If we assume that the team wants to upgrade the defense, it may need to be at the expense of either Franklin’s roster spot or his salary. Even at his age, he can still contribute to the team at right back when needed. Taking all of that into account:


Do you want Sean Franklin back for the 2018 season?

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