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, September 20, 2013

Striking Up a Partnership- If Sabo is Out Who Should Start?

Alvaro Saborio is one of the best strikers in the league. He has been extremely valuable to RSL when he has been in the line-up this year. The problem has been that he has not been available to be selected in the starting 11 as much as anyone would like. Whether he has been out due to injury or international duty, Saborio has only played  1081 minutes of a possible 2610 minutes.

If this were the case last year it would have been a disaster. The depth at forward was very thin. This season it has been another story. Coach Kreis has four other good forwards that he is able to select from when he has needed to replace Saborio. In my last Striking Up a Partnership article, I looked at who was the best person to start with Saborio. Since Saborio is currently injured again I thought it would be good to take a look at the remaining forwards to see who should start in place of Saborio.

First lets take a look at each forward individually to see how they are doing. I am going to keep Saborio in this table for comparison sake.

Player Min Team Goals MpTG Min not played Team Goals MpTG Difference COR
Saborio 1081 19 56.89 1529 33 46.33 -10.56 -13.85
Findley 1128 19 59.37 1482 33 44.91 -14.46 9.15
Plata 1473 29 50.79 1138 23 49.48 -1.31 5.75
Sandoval 736 15 49.07 1875 35 53.57 4.5 19.8
Garcia 876 21 41.71 1730 31 55.81 14.09 -19.94

Let me go over what we are looking at. MpTG is my minutes per team goal stat. The difference column shows the difference between the MpTG when a player is playing vs when he is off the field. And the COR score is my overall offensive rating system. For both MpTG and COR, the lower the score the better. 

As you can see Olmes Garcia has the best MpTG and COR. Does that make it a slam dunk that he should start? I am not sure. I read an interesting stat the other day about Garcia. All 5 goals that he has scored have come in matches where he has come in as a sub. All 4 assists that Garcia has have come in matches where he was the starter. 

Since we are looking at who should start, I thought it would be good to take a look at how each player has done as a starter. 

Player Min Team Goals MpTG
Saborio 1053 15 70.20
Findley 972 13 74.77
Plata 1265 21 60.24
Sandoval 619 12 51.58
Garcia 539 10 53.90

You will notice that every player's MpTG is higher here than above. That is because more goals are scored later in the match. That is going to give a boost to any players coming in off the bench. I was really surprised that Sandoval does not have much of a drop in MpTG when he is a starter. Perhaps he is the best option to start.

Here is a look at how each player does when they come in as a sub.

Player Min Team Goals MpTG
Saborio 28 1 28.00
Findley 156 6 26.00
Plata 203 8 25.38
Sandoval 117 3 39.00
Garcia 337 11 30.64

Plata has been a real spark coming off the bench for RSL. It also surprised me that Findley had better numbers coming off the bench than Garcia. I would have thought that would be the other way around.

Now lets look at how each pairing does when playing together. This should be one of the key things we look at in determining who we want to start. 

Player Min Goals MpTG
Sabo/Plata 361 11 32.82
Plata/Garcia 365 10 36.50
Sandoval/Garcia 314 8 39.25
Findley/Garcia 42 1 42.00
Plata/Sandoval 390 7 55.71
Sabo/Garcia 335 6 55.83
Findley/Sandoval 63 1 63.00
Findley/Plata 562 8 70.25
Sabo/Sandoval 71 1 71.00
Sabo/Findley 398 5 79.60

With this information we can see that Plata/Garcia is our best non-Sabo pairing. I do find it interesting that the pairings that we have seen the most of this season (Findley/Plata and Sabo/Findley) are also two of the three worst statistical lineups that we have.

Let me throw out one more statistic before I come up with my conclusion on who should start. As I have gone through my stats, I have found that Robbie Findley has played 95 minutes in a formation where he was the lone striker. In that time the team has scored 5 times or a goal every 19 minutes. Not that I am an advocate for that, but there is a case that could be made about playing a 4-5-1 formation as well with Saborio out.

By looking at all these numbers my conclusion is that we should start Garcia and Sandoval together with Plata the first man off the bench. When you look above at the numbers for when a player starts, Garcia and Sandoval are the two best. They rank third on the pairings list with the team scoring a goal every 39.25 minutes that they play together. Plata also has the best numbers coming off the bench while Sandoval really hasn't done as well as a substitute. 

This is the lineup that makes the most sense to me for tomorrow's match if Saborio can't play. Especially when you consider the big center backs that San Jose will play, it is important that we have some size and speed on the field. 

Who do you want to see as the forward pairing if Saborio is unable to start? I did a quick poll and here are the results.

Plata/Garcia- 35%
Plata/Sandoval- 42%
Garcia/Sandoval- 14%
Findley/Sandoval- 7%

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