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.

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.

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