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, December 5, 2013

End of Year Review- The Defense

When looking over the course of the whole year, the RSL's defense had a very up and down season. They started off the first few months with some of the best defensive rates in club history. Then about two-thirds through the season they were leaking goals at an alarming rate. But, by the end of the season they came back strong and have played fantastically so far through the playoffs.

What was the cause of the up and down season? Injuries played a huge role and National Team call ups were a factor as well. By the end of the year RSL had used 8 different center back pairings and 3 different keepers in MLS play. The team ended up giving up 41 goals on the season or a goal every 74.63 minutes. All things considered, it is really remarkable that RSL did not give up more goals than they did.

Here is a breakdown of how each player did over the course of the year. MpCG stands for "Minutes per Conceded Goal" or how long it took for a goal to be scored while they were playing. Unlike my Minutes per Team Goal stat that I use for offensive players, the higher the number the better with MpCG.

Player Min Goals MpCG
Schuler 1440 15 96.00
Beltran 2230 26 85.77
Wingert 1742 22 79.18
Watson-Siriboe 630 8 78.75
Borchers 2520 35 72
Salcedo 1070 15 71.33
Palmer 1198 17 70.47
Mansally 774 11 70.36
McDonald 270 5 54.00
Maund 270 6 45.00

With how he has been playing in the playoffs, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Chris Schuler led the team in MpCG. He was the biggest reason that the team had the defensive turnaround towards the end of the season. In fact if you only look at the games he has played since coming back from injury (including playoffs), RSL is only giving up a goal every 150 minutes!

Next is a breakdown of how the team played when a particular player was not on the field. The "difference" column is the difference between when a player played compared to when he didn't play. 

Player Min not played Goals MpCG Difference
Beltran 830 15 55.33 30.44
Schuler 1620 26 62.31 33.69
Wingert 1318 19 69.37 9.81
Watson-Siriboe 2340 31 75.48 3.27
Mansally 2199 29 75.83 -5.46
McDonald 2700 35 77.14 -23.14
Palmer 1853 24 77.21 -6.74
Salcedo 1900 24 79.17 -7.83
Maund 2700 34 79.41 -34.41
Borchers 540 6 90 -18

It is pretty crazy to think that the team gave up a goal every 55 minutes when Beltran was not on the field. I decided to take a closer at this. Beltran missed 9 games on the season. In 6 of those 9 games the team gave up 2 or more goals. Although he did struggle in a couple games down the stretch, Beltran is a pretty vital piece of the defense.

The other thing that I found interesting in looking at this is that the team actually played pretty well when Borchers was not in the match. This somewhat surprised me.

Finally, here is a look at the centerback combinations that played this season.

Player Min Goals MpCG
Borchers/Schuler 900 8 112.5
Schuler/Salcedo 90 1 90.00
Borchers/Watson-Siriboe 270 3 90.00
Schuler/McDondald 90 0 90.00
Schuler/Watson-Siriboe 360 5 72.00
Borchers/Salcedo 979 14 69.93
Borchers/Maund 270 6 45.00
Borchers/McDonald 180 5 36.00

It should come as no surprise that Schuler and Borchers were RSL's best centerback duo. They have wonderful chemistry and have been playing great together in the playoffs. It is a bit surprising that the team gave up so many goals when Borchers was paired up with almost anyone else.

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