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, July 16, 2014

Striking Up a Partnership- Midseason Report

By Charles Barnard

The loss of Alvaro Saborio has been a big blow to the offensive attack of RSL. The season started great with the offense scoring goals at a record setting pace and Saborio was a big part of that. While Saborio has been on the field this season, RSL was scoring at a rate of a goal every 45 minutes.  RSL has now played 8 league games without him. In those past 8 games RSL is scoring at a rate of a goal every 120 minutes. 

It is clear to see that no one has truly stepped up to fill Saborio's shoes. I felt that now was an applicable time to really dive in and look at each of RSL's striker stats and to see how well each striker is playing with each other. 

First let's look at how each striker is doing individually. Goals represent the amount of team goals, not the amount of goals the player has scored. MpTG (minutes per team goal) is how often the team scores when a player is either on or off the field. 

PlayerMinGoalsMpTGMin not playedGoalsMpTGDifference

By looking at this it is clear to see how important that both Saborio and Joao Plata has been to the team this season. Looking at the difference you can see how RSL scores much more when these two players have been on the field. 

It is also interesting to see how bad the offense has been with Garcia playing. By this point, everyone knows the slump that Garcia has been in. It has been over a calendar year since he scored his last goal. These numbers also show that the offense as a whole has not been good with Garcia on the field.

While there is a lot of value from individual numbers, I also feel we can learn a lot by looking at how well the team does when a particular partnership is up top. 

MinGoalsMpTGMin not playedGoalsMpTG

There is a lot of data to look at here, but let me point out some of the things that stands out to me. First, the combination of Saborio and Plata this year was killer. The chemistry between those two players has been wonderful. Last season they had a similar MpTG while playing together.

The numbers for Plata/Garcia looks great so far, but those numbers might be a bit deceiving. If you remember Garcia came on late in the Chicago match and RSL played 3 forwards up top. In the handful of minutes that lineup was on the field, RSL scored twice. 

The question continues to be what partnership should start in the absence of Saborio? One pairing that looked great at the end of last season was Findley/Sandoval. But even if Findley was 90 minute fit, that pairing would take Plata off the field. Sandoval/Garcia also played well last season but with both players struggling to find the back of the net that is not ideal either. And finally, I have never been a fan of Plata/Findley together. 

That leaves either continuing with Plata/Sandoval or to give a shot to Plata/Garcia. Which partnership do you think the team should use come Saturday night?

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