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 17, 2014

Crunching the Numbers- San Jose

RSL gave up two goals late on Saturday to end their match with San Jose tied 3-3. Although it is painful to think that the team let two points slip through their fingers, I think it is fair to say that 4 points out of their first two matches on the road was a pretty good start to the season.

Lets jump into the numbers to see what interesting information is coming out of the match. Again, I just want to preface this by saying that the sample size for these stats are still very small and can fluctuate greatly from week to week.  Even with this being the case, I still feel that there is interesting information to be found.

  • Alvaro Saborio and Joao Plata have now played 171 minutes together. In that time RSL has scored 4 times or a goal every 42.75 minutes.
  • Nat Borchers and Aaron Maund have played 161 minutes together. In that time the team has only given up 1 goal. 
  • Luke Mulholland has played 93 minutes so far this season. During that time RSL has scored 4 times or a goal every 23.25 minutes.
  • If Mulholland's goal from last week would have counted (as it should have) RSL would be scoring a goal every 18.6 minutes when he is in the match.
  • RSL has not scored in the 87 minutes that Mulholland has not been on the field.
  • Plata has been on fire. So far he has 2 goals and 1 assist on the season. He has taken 7 shots and all 7 have been on goal.
  • Plata currently has a COR score of -62.9 (the lower the score the better). 
  • RSL has given up 27 shots in each of the last two matches. Prior to 2014 RSL had never given up as many as 27 shots in a game. In MLS history, only one team (Miami 1998) had given up 27 or more shots in two consecutive matches. Thanks to Peter Hirdt (@PeterHirdt) for this stat.

So what do these numbers mean? It is great to see that the starting duo of Plata and Saborio picked up where they left off last year. Statistically they were the best strike partnership for RSL with the team scoring every 33 minutes when they played together last year. They seem to really compliment each other when they play.

Luke Mulholland
Photo courtesy of Real Salt Lake
While the season in only 2 games old, it is becoming pretty apparent what a valuable pickup that Luke Mulholland is going to be. He looked very good in the preseason and he has carried on that form to the regular season. His impact so far has been pretty dynamic on the offensive side of the ball and he is very good defensively as well. I would expect him to continue to get playing time, especially if Morales continues to be sidelined with a bad back.

Plata has seemed to improve in almost every area of his game. Last season his finishing was very poor. Only 38% of his shots were on goal and only 8% of his shots hit the back of the net. Both of these were the lowest among all RSL forwards. As mentioned above, all of his shots so far have been on frame and he has scored on 28% of his shots taken. 

RSL had problems defending set pieces during the middle portion of the season last year. Two of San Jose's goals also came off of set pieces. This is an area of the game where Chris Schuler is missed the most. Schuler is pretty dominate in the air and his return from injury last season helped the RSL back line tremendously. This is one reason why I was saying that Schuler is the most important player for RSL this year. 

Saborio has been struggling in these first two matches. Last season 40% of his shots were on goal. So far this year he has taken 8 shots with only 1 of them being on frame (12.5%). He has also missed some chances that normally he puts away. Again we are only two games into the season but this is something that you might keep your eye on.

Finally I have to say I am concerned by the amounts of shots that RSL has given up in the first two matches. Watch for a round table discussion later this week exploring this topic.

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