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.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Starting vs. Off the Bench

I was talking with someone the other day about RSL stats and the suggestion was made to take a look at a players stats when they start compared to when they come off the bench. I thought this was a great idea. For the past few weeks I have been saying that I thought Olmes Garcia was a much better player when he came off the bench than when he started. I had an idea on what the numbers would show after looking into this, but after I was done the results still surprised me.

When I began my research I was pretty sure that the numbers would be better for players coming off the bench. It is, somewhat, the nature of soccer. There are more goals scored in the second half of matches than in the first: A lot more. Currently 66.7% of all RSL goals comes in the second half of matches. To look at it closer, 39.39% of all team goals are coming in the final 15 minutes of a match. But it is not just RSL that scores their goals in the second half, all teams do. RSL opponents are scoring 65% of their goals in the second half as well. These numbers make sense. Towards the latter portions of the second half teams will start pressing for goals. Players get tired, the field seems to open up more, fresh subs comes on, and many times goals are scored. 

So as I looked at these numbers. I was not surprised to find that subs have a better minutes per team goal (MpTG) rating. What I was surprised about was how big of a difference the two numbers would be. A couple more things before I dive in: The sample size of some of the numbers below are very low. We need to take that into account while we analyze the information. I only did the research on the five forwards plus I threw in Sebastian Velasquez for fun. Also, these numbers only take into account MLS matches, not Open Cup matches.

First we will look at each player and their numbers when they started the match:

Player Games Started  Minutes Played as starter Team Goals  MpTG
Saborio 7 627 7 89.57
Findley 12 761 9 84.56
Plata 12 894 13 68.77
Sandoval 7 538 10 53.80
Garcia 4 312 4 78.00
Velasquez 7 535 7 76.43

Here is a look at the same players coming off the bench:

Player Games as Sub  Minutes Played as sub Team Goals  MpTG
Saborio 1 28 1 28.00
Findley 3 75 2 37.50
Plata 5 178 6 29.67
Sandoval 5 70 3 23.33
Garcia 10 256 9 28.44
Velasquez 8 170 8 21.25

What can we take away from these numbers? First I was really shocked by how big a difference there was between the two. The numbers are really drastic especially when you start taking into account the amount of minutes played between the two. Garcia has played 56 less minutes as a sub than as a starter. But the team has scored 5 more goals during that time! That is pretty crazy.

Another thing that I noticed was Sandoval's MpTG rate as a starter. It is much lower than any of the other forwards. Perhaps he should have seen more time as a starter while Saborio has been gone. 

I think the other thing this shows is the true effect of offensive subs on a match. This really makes the case for how important it is to use all three subs during the match. Now I am wondering if it would be better if you actually brought subs in a little earlier than normal so they have more time to affect the match? Perhaps I should take a look into that as well. What do you think?

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