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, January 22, 2014

End of Year Review- The Plus and Minus of Things

Prior to the start of the 2014 season I wanted to complete my review of 2013 stats. I have already reviewed the player's MpTG, Striker Partnerships, and have taken a look at how well the defense played last season (those can be found here). In today's post I will be looking at the plus/minus stat for each player.

At one point last season someone asked me if I tracked plus/minus stats for players. At that time I did not, but could see the value in it. I went back and calculated the stat and found some very interesting results. I continued to track it from that point forward and will again track it for the 2014 season.

What is plus/minus? It is basically goal differential on a player's level instead of a team level. You take all the goals that are scored while a player is on the field and subtract all goals that are given up. Historically this is a stat that has been heavily used in hockey and has since found its way into other sports like basketball. It is also finding its way into soccer as more and more people that look at stats have been using it to determine how well a team plays while a player is on the field.

On the season, RSL had a goal differential of +16. This was the second best goal differential for a season in team history (2010 had a goal differential of +25).

First lets take a look at the forwards. These stats represent the regular season only. Neither the playoff nor US Open Cup matches were taken into account.

Player Min +/-
Plata 1645 11
Sandoval 885 10
Garcia 996 8
Saborio 1346 5
Findley 1260 2

I was pretty surprised by the results found here. It somewhat makes sense that Plata had the best plus/minus as he played the most minutes. I would have never have guessed that Sandoval would rank second best among the forwards. On the flip side I was shocked that RSL was only a +2 when Findley was on the field. It was also interesting that the player with the best MpTG stat among the forwards (Garcia) only ranked in the middle of the plus/minus rankings. I am not sure how to interpret that.

Player Min +/-
Morales 2282 18
Grabavoy 2688 15
Beckerman 2281 15
Velasquez 892 10
Gil 2061 9
Alvarez 981 5
Stephenson 790 0

Above are the stats for the midfielders. Of course, the first thing that stands out is Javier Morales. Morales' +18 is the best plus/minus on the team. He also had the best MpTG on the team as well. I did find it interesting that Gil's plus/minus was not great for the minutes that he played. Also, perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised that Stephenson (and to a lesser extent Alvarez) were released due to their poor plus/minus rankings. 

Player Min +/-
Beltran 2230 17
Wingert 1742 15
Borchers 2520 15
Salcedo 1070 12
Mansally 774 4
Watson-Siriboe 630 3
Schuler 1440 2
McDonald 270 1
Maund 270 -1
Palmer 1198 -6

Finally we take a look at the defenders. Some of these numbers really surprised me. I wasn't too surprised with the group at the top, especially with the amount of minutes that they played. I think there are two numbers that really stood out to me though. First is the -6 of Lovel Palmer. I think we can all agree that Palmer was a really good person and will be missed on the team. But, this number is a clear indication on why he was traded. On the defensive side of the ball, he was not good. 

The second surprise was the +2 for Chris Schuler. Statistically he was by far our best defender on the season when he played. It is surprising to see that our offense struggled though while he was on the pitch. Again, this doesn't take into account the playoffs and we all saw what he did there scoring 2 goals. But over the course of the regular season a different picture was painted. This is something to keep an eye on going into 2014.

Finally, I divided the minutes by the plus/minus number. This gives us a plus/minus per minute. Basically it tells how long it takes for a players plus/minus number to go up (or down for Palmer and Maund).

Player Min +/- per min. played
Sandoval 885 10 88.50
Salcedo 1070 12 89.17
Velasquez 892 10 89.20
Wingert 1742 15 116.13
Garcia 996 8 124.50
Morales 2282 18 126.78
Beltran 2230 17 131.18
Plata 1645 11 149.55
Beckerman 2281 15 152.07
Borchers 2520 15 168.00
Grabavoy 2688 15 179.20
Mansally 774 4 193.50
Alvarez 981 5 196.20
Watson-Siriboe 630 3 210.00
Gil 2061 9 229.00
Sabo 1346 5 269.20
McDonald 270 1 270.00
Findley 1260 2 630.00
Schuler 1440 2 720.00
Stephenson 790 0 N/A
Palmer 1198 -6 -199.67
Maund 270 -1 -270.00

I was very surprised by these results. I would not have guessed that Sandoval and Salcedo would have topped the list. It was also a little surprising to see that out of the everyday players that it was Wingert with the best rating. 

What do you see from the information above? Do you have any take-a-ways that I missed? I would love to hear any comments.


  1. Looking at who tops the lists, it seems to me that when players were on the field was a factor. Goals scored near the end of the game when defenses are tired would explain why Sandoval and Velasquez fare so well (and to a lesser extent Garcia and Plata). I wonder if there is a way to factor in starting vs. being subbed in late in the game in the statistics. Certainly not something I want to take on with my limited Excel skills...

  2. You are right that more goals are scored later in matches. 33% of all RSL goals came after the 75th minute. But I am not sure how much of an affect that has on the plus/minus stat as RSL gave up more goals after the 75th minute (31%) as well. It seems like the effect of more goals being scored past the 75th minute is somewhat of a wash.