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.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Statistically Speaking- Joao Plata

Photo by Nic Shellabarger
I think it is safe to say that the best offensive player for RSL this season has been Joao Plata. The 22 year old forward has been dominating in the matches he has played in. He was named MLS Player of the Week for his 2 goal performance against Chicago.

I decided to really dive into Plata's numbers to see just how good his season has been. What I found surprised me. His stats paint a picture that shows he has been even better than I thought. It is pretty amazing when comparing his stats from this year to those from last year.

Plata had a respectable 2013 season scoring 4 goals and contributing 8 assists in 1645 minutes of play. That translates to .22 goals and .44 assists per 90 minutes that he played.  This season Plata has been on the field for 394 minutes. In that time he has scored 5 goals and has 2 assists. That translated to 1.14 goals and .46 assists per 90 minutes played.

It is good to see that Plata's assists are staying consistent with last year and his goal scoring has gone through the roof. But how has Plata improved so much from last season? I believe there are two parts to that answer. He has been more aggressive and he has been much more accurate.

Last season Plata took 50 shots over the course of the season. That comes out to 2.7 shots every 90 minutes that he played. This season he has taken 16 shots so far or 3.6 shots for every 90 minutes that he has played. So it is easy to see that he has been more involved in the RSL offense.

The real key is how accurate he has become with his shots. Last season 38% of his shots were on goal and 8% of all shots he took hit the back of the net. Both of these numbers were the lowest among the 5 RSL forwards. This season an incredible 75% of his shots have been on goal and 31% of his shots have hit the back of the net. Both of these are now the highest among the RSL forwards.

The team as a whole is also playing really well when Plata is on the field. RSL as a team have scored 11 times while Plata has been on the pitch or a goal every 35 minutes. When Plata has not played, the team is scoring a goal every 83 minutes. How does that compare to last season? The team scored every 51 minutes when he played last year they scored every 56 minutes when he didn't play.

Plata is also continuing to get other players involved in the attack. To go along with his 2 assists he has also registered 13 key passes (a pass that leads to a shot that wasn't a goal).  This ranks 2nd on the team only behind Javier Morales. This is another area where he has vastly improved over last season as he only had 18 key passes all year. Here is another way to look at it. Every 26 minutes Plata is setting up one of his teammates to take a shot. Last season that number was every 63 minutes.

The all-around improvement of Plata's game is pretty incredible. Not only is he scoring goals at a high pace, he is also getting his teammates involved in the attack. The question now is how long can he keep up producing at this rate?


  1. I see this analysis a lot "The team as a whole is also playing really well when Plata is on the field. RSL as a team have scored 11 times while Plata has been on the pitch or a goal every 35 minutes. When Plata has not played, the team is scoring a goal every 83 minutes. " It bugs me a bit because it includes the player's direct scoring contribution. The rate of scoring for the team while Plata is on the pitch, the way you did it (which is how others do it, also) is a liner combination of his goals and the rest of the team's goals. What happens if you subtract Plata's goals and look just at the rate the rest of the team scores while Plata is out there. What you have is 6 goals in 394 minutes, or 65.67 minutes between goals. That is still substantially better than the rate when he's not on the pitch, but I think better represents how his play 'improves the play of the rest of the team.'

    1. I kind of agree, but the stat as in the article is still good as it shows that the team, who Plata is a part of, is better with him on the field. It isn't saying other people are playing better, just the team with Plata is greater than the team without Plata. It shows that Plata isn't padding his own stats to the detriment of the team, he is still playing team ball while doing fantastic himself.

    2. Thanks for the comment. I can see where you are coming from. When it comes to my minute per team goal stat (which is what this is) my philosophy is that it doesn't matter who scores the goal. It takes a team effort. This metric gives everyone on the field the credit for the goal.

      I think my problem was the statement before the stat when I said that the team is playing well when Plata is on the field. Perhaps I could have worded that differently.

    3. To the comment above my own, you make a great point. An example of this happened last year with Sabo. Sabo scored a ton of goals. The stats show that the team scored every 61 minutes that he played and every 48 minutes that he didn't play. Just looking at that stat it seems that even though Sabo scored, the team didn't play as well as a whole when he was on the field.