Welcome to From The Upper Deck, my blog about RSL and soccer in general. I have a lot of passion for the beautiful game. I am just a fan that likes to sit in the upper deck and take it all in.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Internationally Challenged- Gold Cup Takes RSL Players

One of the greatest honors for a soccer player is to play for their national team. RSL had four players called up for international duty for the upcoming Gold Cup. While everyone is excited for Saborio (Costa Rica), Beltran (US), Beckerman (US) and Rimando (US), it does leave a large void in RSL's starting lineup. People have been saying that RSL is the deepest team in MLS. Now is the time to see if that statement is, in fact, correct.

How long will each of these players be gone for? That depends on how deep the US and Costa Rica advances in the Gold Cup. The final match of the Gold Cup is going to be held on July 28th. The following is a break down of what we might see to fill the holes while these players are gone:

Alvaro Saborio- (potential games missed- @TFC, vs Philly, @Dal, vs KC, @NY) Saborio has already left to join up with his team. He will be missing the game in Toronto. The players called up to the US squad won't leave until after the Toronto match.

As strange as it would have sounded at the start of the year, Saborio is probably the easiest person to be able to replace while he is gone. RSL is extremely deep at forward at the moment with all five forwards on the roster playing very well. RSL scores a goal every 81.88 minutes that Saborio is on the field. That is actually the worst stat among all RSL forwards. His leadership and experience on the field will be missed though.

In his place I could see Devon Sandoval getting more time. Sandoval is the only other target forward on the roster and has played well so far this season. The other option that I could see would be to play the combination of Robbie Findley and Joao Plata. This was the partnership of choice for the team in the last three matches prior to Saborio returning to the lineup for the Seattle match. Olmes Garcia is the wildcard. He might be inserted into the starting lineup, but I think it is more likely that he will continue to come in off the bench.

Nick Rimando- (potential games missed- vs Philly, @Dal, vs KC, @NY) It was no surprise that Rimando got called up to the Gold Cup roster. US coach Jurgen Klinsmann has said that Rimando was number three among US keepers only behind Tim Howard and Brad Guzan.

While Rimando is gone, Josh Saunders will be minding the net for RSL. Saunders is a two time MLS Cup winner that was brought into the team for this purpose. He has posted wins in all three US Open Cup games that RSL has played in. But the team did lose the one MLS match he was in goal.

Kyle Beckerman- (potential games missed- vs Philly, @Dal, vs KC, @NY) With Beckerman being the only defensive midfielder on the US Gold Cup team, expect for him to get a lot of playing time. The thought around the country is that he will also be the captain for this squad.

The loss of Beckerman will be hard to overcome in the RSL midfield. The job will fall to Yordany Alvarez. Alvarez has started two games already this year with the team and is a solid backup. He does need to play smart when he is in as he has gotten unnecessary yellows in the past including a red card this year against Dallas. The area of most concern might not be on the defensive side of things but on the offensive side of the ball. When Beckerman plays, the team scores a goal every 53.79 minutes. When he has not played, that number drops to every 119.50 minutes.

Tony Beltran- (potential games missed- vs Philly, @Dal, vs KC, @NY) Beltran earned his first national call-up earlier this year. After a solid first half of the season, it is no surprise to see him called up again.

Beltran might be the hardest player to replace for RSL. Statistically he has been the best defender on the team. While he is on the pitch, the team gives up a goal every 122.73 minutes. In the two games he did not play, the team gave up five goals or a goal every 36.00 minutes.

The job of replacing Beltran will fall to the combination of Lovel Palmer and Abdoulie Mansally. Both have seen playing time this year. The team has played well in the 360 minutes that Mansally has played, only giving up three goals (a goal every 120 minutes) but has struggled with Palmer on the field. RSL has given up a goal every 59.33 minutes that Palmer has played. But to Palmer's credit: his shot in Montreal did force a Montreal own goal.

RSL will have a stiff challenge in front of them. The schedule becomes really tough the next few matches. RSL has never won in Toronto and the next four games after that are all against teams that would currently qualify for the playoffs. Many players are going to have to step up for RSL to have continued success.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Should He Stay or Should He Go?- Will RSL Sell Luis Gil?

There is a decision on the near horizon for Real Salt Lake. And it is a decision that could have ramifications for the team for years to come. RSL will need to decide if they are willing to sell Luis Gil.

Gil came to RSL four years ago as a 16 year old. Even before joining the team he was on the radar at some of the biggest clubs in Europe including Arsenal. Instead of diving in with such a big club, Gil and his family made the decision to stay closer to home and to sign a contract with MLS. Kansas City won his rights in a special lottery and then traded those rights to RSL.

Flash forward four years and Gil is currently away playing for the US at the U-20 World Cup. In their first match against Spain, Luis was far and away the best player on the field for the US. His passing was superb and he scored the only goal for the US in the 4-1 defeat. Although missing a PK in their second match, Gil still played well and helped set up a late goal in a 1-1 draw with France. With scouts from around the world in attendance, Gil is standing out. One has to expect that the offers for Gil will start rolling in. Especially if he has a good game against Ghana and the US moves on to the next round. The question is: What will RSL do?

The decision will not be an easy one. There are pros and cons for both selling him and keeping him. Here is a look at both sides of the decision.

Gil has become a valuable piece of the RSL midfield. He has already played 1016 minutes with the team this year and his two goals, so far, ties a career high. And at 19, his best years are probably still ahead of him. The thought of what he could be in a couple of years is pretty intriguing. The league has talked about wanting to keep the best young US players in the the league instead of seeing them go on to Europe.

But is Gil the best fit for RSL's style of play? The answer to that might be no. Gil seems to play best with the ball at his feet being the center of the attack. But since Javier Morales has returned from injury, Gil has been moved to a wide position in RSL's diamond midfield. His effectiveness has suffered because of it.  Currently, RSL is scoring a goal every 92.36 minutes that Gil has been on the field. This is by far the worst scoring rate for all RSL attacking players. In contrast, when Gil is not on the field the team is scoring a goal every 34.87 minutes. The difference between those two numbers is staggering.

And then there is Gil's contract to look at. According to the players association, Gil has a guaranteed compensation this year of $213,833.33. This makes him the fourth highest player on the team only behind Saborio, Morales, and Beckerman.

The other important piece of this puzzle is that this is the final year of a four year contact. This causes problems on multiple fronts. If RSL does want to keep Gil long term, they are probably going to have to give him a pay raise at the end of the season. But since his contract is almost up, it also drives down the price the team can get for him in this summer transfer window. Teams might wait to see if they can get him on a free transfer at the end of the season.

RSL isn't the only decision maker in this process. Gil will have a say on any transfer that might occur. MLS will also have a voice at the table. But the common thought is that if an offer comes, both Gil and the league would say yes. But will RSL?

In my opinion if RSL gets a good offer, they need to move forward and try to sell Gil. At this point in his career, Gil is not worth the raise it would take to keep him. Especially when you think about his effect on the RSL salary cap. If RSL was to sell Gil, not only would the team free up a big portion of salary cap space, they would also have the cash to go out and buy another player that could help the team.

It makes even more sense to sell Gil when the depth of the RSL midfield is taken into account. Khari Stephenson has solidified himself in Gil's old spot on the side of the diamond midfield. And other players like Velasquez, Alvarez, Grossman, and Martinez are fighting for more playing time already. The loss of Gil would not hurt the team that much.

One final note on this decision is that RSL would only receive 50% of any transfer fee. Due to MLS rules, the league receives 33% of any transfer fees received for players. And part of the trade with Kansas City that originally brought Gil to RSL guaranteed Kansas City to receive 17% on any transfer fee for Gil as well.

What do think? Should Gil stay or should he go?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Crunching the Numbers- Seattle Edition

After completing it's 17th match against Seattle, RSL has reached the halfway point of their season. I don't think anyone would have guessed they would be at the top of the table at this point. The team is playing great and you can really see this by looking at the stats.

  • With two goals against Seattle, RSL is now scoring a goal every 58.85 minutes. This is the best scoring rate in team history.
  • With the shutout, RSL is now giving up a goal every 95.63 minutes. This is the second best defensive rate in team history.
  • The team is on fire with Robbie Findley in the match. In the first 328 minutes that Findley played this season, RSL scored one goal. In the past 292 minutes that he has played, the team has scored 8 goals or a goal every 36.5 minutes.
  • This match marked the first time RSL has scored a goal with Findley and Alvaro Saborio playing forward together. Prior to the first goal in the game, RSL had played 264 minutes without scoring a goal when those two players were on the field together.
  • The center back pairing of Nat Borchers and Carlos Salcedo has given up two goals in 270 minutes of play or a goal every 135 minutes of play. That is the best defensive rating of all the RSL center back combinations.
  • While Salcedo is on the field, RSL is only giving up a goal every 120.33 minutes. That is second best on the team next to Tony Beltran at a goal every 122.73 minutes.
  • The RSL midfield has scored 11 goals so far this season. They only scored 13 goals all of last season.
Robbie Findley vs. Seattle
photo by Charles Barnard

So what do these numbers tell us. First, for what some people are calling a rebuilding team, RSL is in a very good place right now; being very strong on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The team has scored 17 goals in the past seven MLS matches. And with all five forwards playing great, plus the midfield continuing to score goals, there is no reason to expect the offense to slow down.

Although their depth is being tested, the RSL back line continues to play great. Salcedo has done a tremendous job in the time that he has been on the field. And with Chris Schuler still out for another few weeks and Kwame Watson-Siriboe out for the year it is a great thing that Salcedo has stepped up.

One other thing of note with the defense: Beltran has quietly had a very good year. Like I mentioned above, he has the best defensive scoring rate on the team with giving up a goal every 122.73 minutes. When he has not played, RSL has given up a goal every 36.00 minutes. It is a good thing that Beltran is leading all field players in minutes played with 1350.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Statistically Speaking- Spotlight on Ned Grabavoy

Grabavoy - Photo by James Boz
I have a confession to make. Going into this season I was not a big Ned Grabavoy fan. Going into this last off season we all knew that changes were going to be made with the team. In talking this over with one of my friends, I was vocal to the fact that I didn't think the team should bring Grabavoy back. I am not too proud to admit that I was wrong. Grabavoy has been playing great and is having a career year for the team. I thought I would dig into his numbers to see just how good a year Grabavoy is having.

Before getting into his season's numbers, here is a little bit about Grabavoy. He was drafted 14th overall (second round) of the 2004 Superdraft by the LA Galaxy. He played two and a half seasons for LA and won the MLS Cup with the team in 2005. Halfway through the 2006 season, he was traded to the Columbus Crew where he played until 2008. In 2008 he was selected in the expansion draft by San Jose. He was put into the waiver draft and was selected by RSL prior to the 2009 season.

After missing the first two matches of the season, Grabavoy has been a mainstay in the RSL lineup. He has taken to heart the challenge that Jason Kreis issued all midfielders to score more goals. At nearly the half-way point in the season, Grabavoy is tied for third on the team with three goals. This equals the amount of regular season goals that he has scored over the previous four years of playing with RSL combined. It also ties him with his career high of goals scored in a single season.

Grabavoy has also been credited with two assists so far this season. He had three assists last season which has been his high with the team. There is a chance he will pass that.

You can really see Grabavoy's value when you take a look at team goals. While he is on the field, RSL is scoring a goal every 54.77 minutes. When he has not been on the field, RSL is scoring a goal every 117.50 minutes. Last year RSL had a better scoring rate while he was on the field (61.82) than when he was off the field (70.38) as well.

Grabavoy is also really impressive when you look at his shooting. Currently he is scoring 25% of the shots he has taken. He is the second highest on the team with this stat. This would lead me to believe that he needs to shoot more in matches. The interesting thing is that the 12 shots he has taken so far this year is the second highest shot total that he has had since he has been with RSL.

By watching Grabavoy and looking at his stats, it is obvious that he has really stepped up his game this year and has become one of the most valuable pieces in the RSL midfield.

Special thanks to RSLBoz.com for the photo. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Saving the Best For Last- When Does RSL Score Their Goals?

I was talking with a co-worker the other day about RSL when he brought up an interesting point. He told me he thought that the team really held back during and played more defensively the first half of games then really pushed for a goal in the second half. Now I didn't really agree with his assessment that the team played more defensively in the first half. But it did seem that we scored a lot more goals in the second half than the first. I thought I would dive into the numbers to see what I could find.

At this point in the season, RSL has scored 24 goals. Out of those 24, 8 were scored in the first half and the other 16 were scored in the second half. The average time that a goal is scored is in the 58th minute of the the match.

Now it doesn't shock me that the team would score more in the second half. There are many reasons for this. Offensive subs coming in with fresh legs will have a greater chance to break a defense down. As the game gets late, teams start throwing everything forward trying to get those last minute goals. But as I really started looking at the numbers, it surprised me by how much a difference there is between the first half and second half.

RSL has only scored in the first half in 5 of their 16 matches. Prior to the last two matches (against San Jose and LA), RSL had only scored 4 first half goals. The first half has really been a struggle for the RSL offense.

I then broke down when the goals were scored into 15 minute chunks of time to see when in each half the team was scoring.

Time 0-15 15-30 30-45 45-60 60-75 75-90
Goals Scored 3 1 4 3 3 11

I could not believe these numbers. 45% of all of RSL goals scored are scored in the final 15 minutes of the match! It is also interesting that RSL has only scored one goal between the 15th and 30th minute of matches played.

Things really get interesting when looking at the time goals are scored when individual players are playing. Here are the forwards and the average time a goal is scored when they are on the pitch.

Player Avg Time of goal
Saborio 72.17
Findley 44.00
Plata 50.00
Sandoval 55.31
Garcia 67.75

I was really surprised to see that goals are being scored earlier in the match when Findley is playing. But part of this number is due to the fact that many goals have been scored late after Findley has already come out of the match. The Saborio number is really interesting to me as well. The team scores very late when Saborio plays. The earliest goal that he has been on the field for was in the 53rd minute. 

I am still not completely convinced that RSL plays more defensively in the first half, but my co-worker might be on to something.  Although it would be great for RSL to get out to a lead earlier in matches, it is also nice to know that as the game gets late, RSL still has a great chance to score.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Crunching the Numbers- Mid-Season Review

RSL has now played 16 of their 34 matches for the season. Although the team is just shy of the half way mark in the season, I thought with the off week it would be the perfect time to do a mid-season review. Here are some of the interesting stats that I found this week.

  • RSL has scored a goal every 60 minutes of play and has given up a goal every 90 minutes so far this year. Last season RSL scored every 66.52 minutes and gave up a goal every 87.43 minutes.
  • This season, RSL has had 10 different players score a goal. This ties the amount of goal scorers from the 2012 season. The team record is 14 different goal scorers in 2007.
  • For the 2012 regular season, Alvaro Saborio played 2390 minutes or 78% of the total minutes he could have played. 84% of all RSL goals last season were scored with Saborio on the field. So far this year he has only played in 39% of the minutes he could have played with RSL scoring 25% of their goals with him on the field.
  • In the 2012 season RSL midfielders scored 13 total goals. So far this season, they have already scored 10 goals.
  • In 2012 the RSL defenders scored 2 goals which was the lowest in team history. In 2010 and 2011, the defenders scored 7 goals which was the highest in team history. So far in 2013, no RSL defender has scored a goal.
  • Ned Grabavoy is having a career year. He has already tied his career high with 3 goals. He has already taken more shots than he did in the 2012 season. Having 5 shots on goal is the second most that he has ever had with RSL. 
What can we take away from these numbers? I think the biggest thing is how the team as a whole has stepped up to help on the offensive side of the ball. Saborio was a huge part of the RSL offense last season. We knew that he would be gone for a portion of the season due to his international commitment; no one could have guessed that he was going to miss so many games due to injury as well. The team as a whole had to step up to fill the loss of Saborio and they have done so.

It is good to see the increased production from the RSL midfield. Grabavoy has been much more aggressive this season. If he continues at the pace that he is at, he will set high marks for goals, assists, shots and shots on goal since he joined the team in 2009. He also has a completed passing percentage of 83.36% which is one of the highest on the team.

One thing that would be nice to see is for our defenders to get back on the scoring sheet. The downward trend since the 2010/2011 seasons is a little concerning. But with more goals coming from both the midfield and the forwards, perhaps it is not as important as in the past. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Statistically Speaking- Spotlight on Devon Sandoval

Sandoval - Photo by James Boz
This has been a season of surprises for RSL. There were many question marks that the team needed to answer going into the season. After RSL either traded or released four of its five forwards from the 2012 season, one of the biggest question was who the team was going to get to replace them? And would these players be able to come in and help with the attack that slumped so badly at the end of last season.

One of the answers to that question, as well as one of the biggest surprises, has been the emergence of Devon Sandoval. Not only has he played more than anyone probably expected, statistically speaking he has done it in a way that has really benefited the RSL attack. I wanted to take a closer look at Sandoval to really examine his numbers and his contribution to the team.

Lets take a look at where Sandoval came from before diving into his numbers. RSL drafted him in the second round of the MLS Superdraft. He was named 2nd team All-American out of New Mexico. In his college career he scored 28 goals and also had 17 assists. In the summer of 2012 he came and trained with RSL for a week. RSL traded two supplemental draft picks along with their second round pick to Philadelphia to move up in the draft to be able to pick Sandoval.

Going into the MLS season, I don't think anyone expected Sandoval to get much playing time in his rookie season. But so far Sandoval has started 6 matches and has played 526 total minutes. During that time the team has scored 13 goals or a goal every 40.46 minutes. This is by far the best scoring rate on the team. Here is another way to look at things: Sandoval has played in 36% of the total minutes played by the team. He has been on the field for 54% of the team goals.

These numbers show that the team scores more goals when Sandoval is in the game. But he has only contributed by scoring 1 goal in MLS matches. So why does the team play better while he is in the match? One thing has to be his work rate. He never seems to stop running and he always seems to be in a good position. Another thing is that he is a very good passer. His assist total in college shows that. His play as a target forward where he chests down the ball to oncoming teammates is outstanding. 50% of the shots he has taken has been on goal, which is the highest percentage among all attacking players on the team.

Since 526 minutes isn't a huge sample size, I decided to try to get more examples to look at. I decided to look at all competitions that RSL has played in this year. This includes all preseason, exhibition, reserve league, and Open Cup matches. When calculating all these games, Sandoval has 6 goals in 1393 minutes of play. While Sandoval has been on the field, the team has scored 29 times or a goal every 46.43 minutes. In all competitions, the team itself has scored 47 times which means that Sandoval has been on the field for 62% of all RSL goals. This is incredible when you think about all the matches that he has not played in.

When watching him play, it is clear that he has things he needs to work on. There have been a few chances now where if his finishing was better, he would have had more goals. I believe that will come with time. The important thing is that his work rate puts him in the position to score goals. And, more importantly, his play improves the play of his teammates around him leading them to score more as well.

Special thanks to RSLBoz.com for the photo.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Crunching the Numbers- LA Edition

It is always interesting to check out the numbers after an RSL win. The stats are really starting to feel like they have weight behind them as the team approaches the mid-season mark. There are some very interesting things to look at after the 3-1 RSL victory over the LA Galaxy.

  • RSL is currently averaging a goal every 60 minutes. This ties the 2010 team for the best scoring rate in team history. 
  • RSL scored 2 goals in the 11 minutes that Devon Sandoval was on the field. He has now played 526 minutes and has been on the field for 13 of RSL's 24 goals or a goal every 40.46 minutes that he is playing. 
  • Khari Stevenson leads all RSL midfield players with the team scoring a goal every 50.25 minutes that he is on the field. Javier Morales is second in the midfield with a MpTG of 50.63.
  • The combination of Sandoval and Olmes Garcia have now played together for a total of 151 minutes. In that time the team has scored 6 goals for an incredible MpTG rate of 25.10. 
  • Garcia has now taken 15 shots this season. With his 4 goals, he has scored on 26.67% of the shots he has taken which now leads the team.
  • Surprisingly enough in 101 minutes of playing together, the team has yet to score when the pairing of Garcia  and Joao Plata are on the field together.
  • The team has played 433 minutes without Luis Gil being on the field. They have scored 13 goals or a goal every 33.33 minutes. In the 1016 minutes that Gil has been on the field the team has scored 11 goals or a goal every 92.36 minutes

What do these stats tell us this week? I think the most important thing is that when you get the pairing of Garcia and Sandoval together on the field, good things happen. The work rate between these two players is incredible. I really feel that we need to see these two out on the field together some more. Perhaps the Open Cup match on Wednesday would be a great chance to see them again.

A lot of people are very excited about Garcia, and rightful so. He is fast, works hard and is scoring goals. But, I wonder if people understand how effective he is with his shots? Out of the 15 shots he has taken, 7 have been on frame and 4 more have hit either the post or crossbar. That is 73% of his shots! 

I don't know what it is about Devon Sandoval, but the team scores when he is on the field. The team has played 915 minutes without Sandoval on the field, scoring 11 times for a MpTG rate of 83.18. Not only is he leading the team in MpTG at 40.46, he is leading the next lowest player by (Garcia) by almost 10 minutes per goal. Garcia's MpTG is currently at 50.12. He is not the one scoring the goals when he is in, but the team just seems to click when he is in matches. Look for a more in-depth look at Sandoval's stats later this week.

The difference from Gil being on the field to him being off the field is getting greater each week. Perhaps it would not be a bad thing if he has a great U-20 World Cup and the team was able to sell him while his value is high. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

RSL 3.0- The future of Real Salt Lake

Through the course of this past off-season and into the pre-season we kept hearing about the General Manager, Garth Lagerwey, building RSL 2.0. Although it was painful to lose players like Johnson, Olave, and Espindola, I think most fans will say that RSL 2.0 has been a success so far.  While I would agree with that statement as well, I think the success of Lagerwey will not be in RSL 2.0 but in RSL 3.0.

Let's look forward to the year 2016. Although it seems so far away it is only three years down the road. By 2016, the core of RSL that has led the team through RSL 1.0 and 2.0 will be getting toward the end of their careers (if they have not retired by this point already). Saborio and Beckerman will be 34, Borchers will be 35, and Morales and Rimando will be 36 years old. It will be time to revamp the team again. But due to the planning of Lagerwey, RSL 3.0 will be primed and ready to go.

Forwards- It doesn't take much effort to imagine what our forwards might look like in 2016. Due to injury and international call-ups, our young forwards have already seen a lot of the field together. But what is really exciting is the ages of these forwards. Olmes Garcia was a fantastic find for the team. The fact that he is only 20 means his future is extremely bright. Joao Plata came to the team through a trade with Toronto. He is already having a wonderful season leading the team in assists. He is only 21 years old. Devon Sandoval came to the team as a second round draft pick. He works incredibly hard on the field and the team plays very well while he is out there. He is also 21 years old. What is more exciting is that as these three players spend more time playing with each other they can grow together and learn each other's tendencies. Imagine where they might be in 2016 when the oldest will only be 24.

Midfielders- The RSL midfield of the future also looks very promising. No one had any idea who Sebastian Velasquez was when he was drafted by RSL last year. Although he was only getting limited playing time, many people could see his potential. This year he has seen much more playing time and has really opened people's eyes. And with only being 22 years old, he is only going to continue to improve. John Stertzer is a 22 year old that was drafted in the first round this year by RSL. Although he has recently suffered an injury that will probably keep him out for the rest of the year, he did see some first team action and has looked good in reserve league action as well. Enzo Martinez was drafted in the first round last year. The Generation Adidas player has yet to see first team action but has looked very good in the reserve league. I still feel that the 22 year old could make a solid impact with the team. And finally there is Luis Gil. The 19 year old has continued to grow and improve each year. He already has a solid two goals and one assist on the season. The only question with Gil is how long he will stay with the team before he moves along to Europe.

Defense- I think people forget how young Tony Beltran is. It seems like he has been with the team a long time but he is still  only 25 years old. He could be entering into the prime of his career in three years. The same could be said about Chris Schuler. Schuler is also only 25 and has been very solid in the back line this year. Schuler's centerback partner for years to come could be Carlos Salcedo. The 19 year old RSL academy product has done great so far in his three starts. He is going to be a great player with a little more experience. Finally there is Jordan Allen. The 17 year old former academy player is a dynamic player with a ton of potential. RSL has played Allen as an outside back in the past, although he has also played in the midfield and as a forward before. He will be going to Virginia in the fall but I don't think it will be too long before he will be playing consistently at Rio Tinto.

Goal- There is no question who the goalkeeper of the future is. Lalo Fernandez was a home grown signing for the team. The 20 year old has seen solid playing time in reserve league matches so far. And, you can't be in a much better position than to be learning from the likes of Nick Rimando.

The run down above doesn't even include players like David Viana. The jury is still out on the 21 year old. He has shown flashes of greatness but has not had much time on the field to prove himself. Others like the 22 year old Aaron Maund could also fight for a spot in the central defense. Abdoulie Mansally has already contributed to the team as an outside back and is still only 24.

Now we can't expect for all of these players to develop into something special. It would be hard to say if they all will still be with the team in 2016. But just by looking at the players above, RSL 3.0 looks like it could be a very special team proving once again how successful a General Manager Garth Lagerwey is.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Revisiting the Striker Partnerships

About a month ago, I wrote a post where I looked at the partnerships between each of the forwards that RSL has and how well the team has played when each pair was on the field. There have been five MLS matches since then and I thought people might be interested in seeing what the updated numbers are. For a point of reference, the team is currently averaging scoring a goal every 64.29 minutes

Players Min Goals  MpTG
Plata/Sandoval 310 6 51.67
Sabo/Findley 224 0 N/A
Findley/Plata 220 3 73.33
Sabo/Plata 147 4 36.75
Sabo/Garcia 142 2 71.00
Sandoval/Garcia 140 4 35.00
Plata/Garcia 83 0 N/A
Sabo/Sandoval 56 1 56.00
Findley/Sandoval 31 1 31.00
Findley/Garcia 13 0 N/A

What can we learn from these numbers? The first thing that stands out to me is how many minutes that the Plata/Sandoval combination has played. At the beginning of the year, I am sure no one would have ever guessed that this combination is the one that has played the most minutes for the team. The great news is how well they play together. With both players being so young, it might be a pairing that we will continue to see for years to come.

The strike partnership that I think we all expected to see the most was the Saborio/Findley pairing. We saw a lot of this pairing during the first few matches of the year. But due to injury, it has been eight matches since we have last seen Sabo and Findley on the field at the same time. It is a little bit concerning that the team has not scored while these two players have played together. 

In my mind, the pairing that has worked together the best this year is the Saborio/Plata partnership. The four goals that the team has scored (all scored by Saborio) in 147 minutes is very impressive. The chemistry that these two have is pretty remarkable considering the limited time they have really had to play with each other. 

Finally, I have loved watching the Sandoval/Garcia combination on the field together. The work rate between the two young players is pretty incredible. And the 4 goals in only 140 minutes of play is great as well. The future looks bright.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Crunching the Numbers- San Jose

What a difference a couple of weeks can make. Going into the Chivas match Robbie Findley had played 328 minutes. During that time he was on the field the team had only scored once. Since then, he has played in three MLS matches and five goals have been scored while he was on the field. He played great against San Jose and hopefully can continue his elevated play. Lets jump into the numbers of interest for the week.

  • With the three goals against San Jose, RSL has now scored 21 goals this season. They are averaging scoring a goal every 64.29 minutes.
  • Findley's MpTG rating for the season has dropped down from 139.00 last week to 82.00 this week. Over the past three MLS matches, his MpTG is a killer 32.8!
  • Ned Grabavoy continues his hot shooting streak. After his goal against San Jose, 27% of the shots he is taking are going in the back of the net. The next highest player is Findley at 16.67%.
  • Counting the Open Cup match against Atlanta, Khari Stevenson has played 104 minutes the last two matches. Over that time, the team has scored 5 goals for an amazing MpTG of 20.8. 
  • Going into the San Jose match, Findley and Joao Plata had played together for 145 minutes. The team had not scored during that time. Now the Findley/Plata pairing has a MpTG of 73.33.
  • Luis Gil has now played 1016 minutes with a MpTG rating of 92.36. The team has played 343 minutes without Gil on the field. During that time, the team has scored 10 times for a MpTG rating of 34.30.
  • Last year, when Alvaro Saborio was not on the field, the team had a MpTG rating of 95.85. This year, without Saborio on the field the team has a MpTG rating of 52.33.
So what do these numbers tell us? I think the first thing is that a high number of goals in a match can swing some numbers pretty drastically. Since the team is still not half way through the season that is somewhat to be expected with smaller sample sizes. 

I think the Gil's numbers stand out the most to me. The difference between his MpTG ratio and the team's ratio when he is not in the match is 58.06. That means that it take the team 58.06 less minutes to score a goal when he is not in the match than when he is in the match. That difference is pretty staggering.

The number most encouraging above is the team's MpTG when Saborio is not on the field. With him leaving for World Cup Qualifying plus the Gold Cup on the horizon, the team will probably not have Saborio on the field for large amounts of time for the rest of the summer. It is good to see the team will be able to score at a high rate while he is gone. 

Interview with Garth Lagerwey on RSL Soapbox

I recently had the chance to interview Garth Lagerwey to discuss with him his thoughts on stats in general and how the team uses statistics in their analysis. Check it out at RSL Soapbox