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, November 6, 2013

Striking Up a Partnership- End of Year Review

As RSL prepares for the second leg on the first round of the playoffs, one of the biggest questions going into the match is "Who will start up top?". This is the same question that has been asked constantly throughout the course of the year.

The change in the perception of RSL forwards this year has been fascinating. Going into the season RSL had Saborio, Findley, and a bunch of unknowns playing forward. Now most fans would be fine with any of the five different forwards playing.  Watching the growth of the young forwards this year has been a joy.

The question still remains. Who will start up top tomorrow night? Although I have my theories, that is a question that only Coach Kreis can currently answer. What I want to do is to look back to see which forwards played best together. This is something that I did on occasion throughout the season and I thought today would be the perfect day to do a final year-end review on these statistics.

First, I will look at how effective the team played with each forward combination on the pitch. For those that are new to my blog, MpTG represents how many minutes it takes for the team to score a goal while each forward combo is playing. The stats below only represents regular season MLS games. As a point of reference RSL averaged scoring a goal every 53.68 minutes.

Players Min. Played Goals MpTG
Sabo/Plata 441 13 33.92
Plata/Garcia 396 10 39.60
Sandoval/Garcia 397 9 44.11
Findley/Garcia 53 1 53.00
Sabo/Garcia 335 6 55.83
Plata/Sandoval 451 8 56.38
Findley/Sandoval 63 1 63.00
Sabo/Sandoval 71 1 71.00
Findley/Plata 573 8 71.63
Sabo/Findley 519 5 103.80

There are many really interesting things to take away from these stats. The Saborio/Plata combination was by far the most effective pairing. They just seemed to have a really great chemistry. Looking back at the course of the season, the biggest surprise would be how ineffective the Saborio/Findley pairing has been. The team has not played well when these two have played together.

By looking at the minutes played you can tell which combinations that Kreis liked and which ones he didn't. I think it is somewhat interesting that the two combinations that Kreis played the most were the two most ineffective. I do understand that sometimes his hand was forced due to injuries or international call ups. But I would say in looking at these numbers you have to wonder if Kreis could have done a better job in picking his starting forwards throughout the season. 

Now lets look at how well RSL played when a particular forward combination did not play.

Players Min. Not Played Goals MpTG Difference
Sabo/Findley 2541 52 48.87 -54.93
Findley/Plata 2487 49 50.76 -20.87
Plata/Sandoval 2609 49 53.24 -3.13
Sabo/Sandoval 2989 56 53.38 -17.63
Sabo/Garcia 2725 51 53.43 -2.4
Findley/Sandoval 2997 56 53.52 -9.48
Plata/Garcia 2664 47 56.68 17.08
Findley/Garcia 3007 53 56.74 3.74
Sandoval/Garcia 2656 45 59.02 14.91
Sabo/Plata 2619 44 59.52 25.6

The final column is the difference between when a combination played vs when they didn't play. For example, RSL scored a goal almost 55 minutes faster as a team when Saborio and Findley did not play together. Again, these numbers really show how good the Saborio/Plata pairing was for RSL. They would score a goal 25 minutes faster when they played. That is pretty huge.

My guess is that RSL will start Saborio and Findley tomorrow night. Again, it might be because Kreis' hand is being forced due to the current injury to Plata. If Saborio and Findley do start together I will grimace a little inside because I know that they just don't play that well together.


  1. Totally agree. With injuries in mind, I would vote for Sabo/Sandoval, with Findley as a sub.

  2. Completely agree. Why Kreis has favored this combo is beyond me. Findley never does well as a starter. I have the same disappointment in him currently, as I did the first time he left RSL. He is a sub at best, in those times we need someone to come in and add energy/stretch the field. Nothing more. Expecting any touch and finish is hopeless.