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.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Crunching the Numbers- LA

Saturday afternoon saw RSL return home to Rio Tinto for their first home game of the season. The somewhat choppy game resulted in a 1-1 draw between RSL and the Galaxy . The match started quickly with an Alvaro Saborio goal in the 19th minute but LA equalized on a Robbie Keane goal in the the 34th minute of play.

Let's dive into the numbers to see what interesting information that we can find coming out of this match.

  • RSL has scored 5 goals in 3 matches or a goal every 54 minutes of play. That is practically the same offensive production that the team had last year when they set a club record for scoring a goal every 53.6 minutes.
  • The defense has given up 4 goals or a goal every 67.5 minutes. Last season the defense gave up a goal every 74.6 minutes.
  • Over the course of their first two matches, RSL's opponents had attempted 54 shots 19 of which were on goal. In this match, RSL only gave up 10 shots with only 1 being on goal.
  • 80% of the goals that RSL has scored so far have been in the first half of play. Last season only 38% of their goals came in the first half.
  • Plata has played 207 minutes on the season. During that time RSL has scored 5 times or a goal every 41.4 minutes.
  • Plata now has 4 successful crosses on the season. No other RSL player has more than 1 successful cross.
  •  Since coming back from injury toward the end of last season Chris Schuler has played 930 minutes. During that time RSL has only given up 7 goals or a goal every 132.8 minutes.
  • Schuler had 17 clearances in the match. That is 7 more than the next highest player on either team.
  • RSL has a goal differential of +3 while Luke Mulholland is on the field. 
  • Tony Beltran completed 48 out of 51 attempted passes in the match (94%).
What can we learn from these numbers? With it still being early in the season the sample size is still very small. But there are trends that we can start to see. 

Plata continues to be the offensive catalyst for the team. He has 2 goals and 2 assists on the season. Truthfully, he should have scored on his chance in the 2nd minute as well. The offense was not as fluid after Plata had to come off for his injury. Hopefully RSL will not have to find out how the offense plays if Plata is out for a long period of time (Editor's note: Plata just said he would be out for 3 weeks on Twitter).

The return of Chris Schuler was a much needed boost to the RSL back line. Schuler is dominate in the air and his presence in the back really contributed to RSL cutting down on the amounts of shots being taken. There is a reason why I said that Schuler was the most important player for RSL this season. In the last nine matches that Schuler has played for RSL, the team has only lost once. 

It is interesting to see the team scoring earlier in matches. I do expect the trend will shift back overtime as historically more goals are scored in the final 15 minutes than any other time. But last season RSL only scored 11 times total in the first half hour of their matches. In 2012 they only scored 10 times in the first half hour. In the first 3 matches of this season RSL has already scored 2 times in the first 30 minutes. I am not sure if it means anything at all, but it will be interesting to watch to see if it continues.

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