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, August 20, 2014

Expansion Poll Results

Last week I conducted my third in a series of polls looking at who the RSL fan base believes should be protected in the upcoming expansion draft. The results are in and they are pretty interesting.

The first poll was conducted back in February. The second poll took place in May. I was surprised to see how many changes took place between those two polls. Now we are in the homeward stretch of the season. Changes have been made to the roster. The team has a new DP player that the fans have yet to see play. And once again, there are some big changes to the poll.

Before I get to these new results, here are the results of the first two polls. The percentage next to the name is the percentage of people that had that particular player on their protected list.

February May
Beckerman (100%) Plata (100%)
Beltran (100%) Schuler (100%)
Schuler (100%) Beckerman (98%)
Rimando (95%) Rimando (96%)
Gil (95%) Beltran (89%)
Velasquez (91%) Gil (81%)
Garcia (87%) Morales (79%)
Morales (79%) Saborio (77%)
Saborio (70%) Mulholland (61%)
Salcedo (66%) Sandoval (45%)
Plata (50%) Grabavoy (44%)

I was pretty sure that Sebastian Jaime would make the new list,  but without seeing him play I was unsure how high he would rank. I was also curious to see who else would rise and fall. Here are the results

Beckerman (100%)
Schuler (100%)
Rimando (98%)
Plata (96%)
Gil (92%)
Sabario (87%)
Beltran (77%)
Jaime (75%)
Morales (66%)
Mulholland (64%)
Salcedo (57%)

Jaime did make the list appearing on 75% of ballots. Salcedo also made his way back on the list after having been dropped in May. Due to these two additions, Devon Sandoval and Ned Grabavoy fell off the current protected list. For those wondering the next highest players would be Borchers (50%), Grabavoy (48%) and Garcia (42%). 

It is interesting to see both Gil and Saborio received more votes in this poll than in May. Beltran has dropped in votes each of the past two ballots. And Chris Schuler is the only player that has been included on every ballot for each of the three polls that I have conducted.

My personal poll was very close to the one above. The only difference that I had on mine was that I protected Garcia over Morales. Now I think Morales is having a wonderful year, but I was looking more towards the future with my picks. 

I will conduct one more poll prior to the expansion draft itself to see where we as a fan base stands at that point.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2015 Expansion Draft Update- Post Jaime Edition

By Charles Barnard

It has been a big few weeks in the world of RSL. There were major changes to the roster with the signing of Sebastian Jaime as well as trading Kwame Watson-Siriboe to NYCFC.  Due to these moves a lot of talk took place about the future of the team. And it wasn't long before talk of the upcoming expansion draft started once again.

It has been almost three months since I did my last look at the expansion draft. We are now approaching the homeward stretch of the regular season. I thought this would be the perfect time to once again conduct a poll to see who people think RSL should protect in the upcoming draft.

This will be the third poll that I have conducted so far this season. I do have to say it was very interesting to see the difference in opinion between the first poll conducted back in February and the second one done in May. Players like Joao Plata and Luke Mulholland saw a vast increase in the amount of people that decided to protect them. Others like Sebastian Velasquez and Olmes Garcia who were originally picked to be protected fell off the compiled list. It will be interesting to see what the shakeup will be this time around.

As a reminder, here are the rules that I am using for the expansion draft in this poll. Since the official rules have not been released I am somewhat guessing what they will be. You can protect 11 players. Home Grown players will automatically be protected so you don't need to worry about protecting players like Jordan Allen. Remember that even though Carlos Salcedo did go the academy (and played in the Homegrown game at the All-Star festivities), he did not sign as a Home Grown Player. For this poll's purpose, he is eligible and will need to be protected if you wish.

This is where you come in. Please go here and fill out who you think the 11 players that should be protected in the draft. Do take age into consideration but don't worry about things like player's contracts as that information is not readily available. I will post a follow up article in a few days with the results of the poll along with who I chose to protect.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Jaime Situation

By Charles Barnard

News came out yesterday about a potential forward that RSL might be bringing in. As I followed the developments pretty closely I thought it would be good to go over all the information that we do know and what I think might be happening as well. 

Let’s start out by talking about the things we know for sure. Yesterday Chilean media began to report that Argentine forward Sebastian Jaime would be leaving Chilean side Union Espanola to join Real Salt Lake.  This news quickly got picked up by RSL fans on Twitter and began to spread.

Local fans got more excited as YouTube videos like this one began to be tweeted out. A hashtag of #JaimeWatch was even started with one awesome fan going as far to going down to the airport to try and find more information (Meg you rock!).

A little while after the news hit, RSL released the following statement to the Salt Lake Tribune. “Real Salt Lake is aware of the reports connecting the club to the player in question, however at this point, we do not have a signed player.”

Later in the afternoon, additional information came out. In his weekly radio interview, Head Coach Jeff Cassar said that both he and Garth Lagerwey had recently traveled to Chile on scouting trips. He also confirmed that he had seen Jaime play and he had also spoken with the player. While he said that no signing had occurred as of yet, he did say that he thought Jaime could come right in and make an impact in MLS.

Finally, NBC Sports Pro Soccer Talk came out with a report saying that terms have been agreed upon with the only hold up being the players P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate keeping Jaime from completing the move.

What do we know about Jaime?  He is 27 years old and is 5’10”. It has been reported that he has scored 51 goals in 134 professional appearances. It is also been reported that his contract ends at the end of the year.

So those are all the things that we know. But there are many parts of the story that we do not know. The following is speculation on my part.

We have been told on many occasions that RSL currently does not have much, if any, space under the MLS salary cap. They currently have 28 spaces filled on their current roster. They want to stay at 28 because due to league rules the empty roster spots give the team a bit more allocation money to buy down the cap. If Jaime is brought in, it seems another player would have to leave the team for roster reasons.

The next question is how much is Jaime going to cost? While there are rumored numbers being floated around, no one knows the answer to that question as of yet. One would have to think that a striker in the prime of his career is going to cost some money. My guess would be a good chunk of money. Another thing to remember is that he is still under contract. Even though the contract is almost up, there will be sure to be a transfer fee involved in the move as well. This fee is considered part of a player’s salary for salary cap purposes. 

It is clear to see that a big move will need to be made to be able to fit Jaime under the cap. But what will that move be? The logical thing would be that since we are bringing in a forward that we would be moving out a forward as well. And it has to be someone that makes a decent amount of money to clear the space that we need. The only players that truly fit would be Saborio or Findley.

Based on the numbers released by the players association, Saborio is currently making $360,000 a year. Findley is making $215,000 a year. The other forwards on the team make much less so I don’t think that moving them would have enough of an effect on the salary cap. I really can’t see RSL moving Saborio at this time. That leaves Findley as the odd man out.

The other player that I might see being moved is Luis Gil. He has been somewhat struggling to get playing time over Luke Mulholland. There will be great demand around the league for Gil. He is also currently making $220,000 so he would clear out a large portion of money from the cap if he is moved. It is harder for me to see the team moving Gil, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they moved him either.

What should we expect to receive back for trading either Findley or Gil? The only thing we would want at this point would be allocation money. We don’t have room on the roster for another player, but allocation money would help buy down the cap even more to make room for Jaime. Remember we will need room next year as well if we want to resign Jaime. My feeling is that we need all the allocation money that we can get right now.

My feeling is that the deal is done for Jaime. But before it can move forward, the team has to make a deal to clear salary cap space. Once that happens, everything else can move forward. Today is the final day that the transfer window is open. It could be a very interesting day for RSL. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

It's All About Time

By Charles Barnard

One of the most interesting team stats this season has been when in matches RSL are scoring their goals. In the past RSL would start matches very slowly and would build in their attack over the course of the game. This year things have been different. The team has been scoring much earlier in matches than in years past.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look into when goals are being scored during RSL matches. The team has currently scored 33 goals on the season.

Goals Scored864339
% By Half54.55%45.45%

Above shows the breakdown by 15 minute increments on when in the match RSL is scoring their goals. It also shows the percentage of total goals during that time period. The bottom row shows the percentage based on either the first or second half of matches.

As you can see from the numbers above, RSL is scoring more goals in the first half than in the second half. This is somewhat unusual in the world of soccer. The majority of goals scored in matches are normally scored in the second half with the highest percentage being scored in the final 15 minutes. This is due to a combination of tired legs, substitutions, and teams pressing for goals late in matches. As we can see, RSL does score more goals in the final 15 minutes of matches than any other time period.

The number that really stands out to me is how many goals RSL is scoring in the first 15 minutes of matches. Scoring 8 times during that time period is a very impressive way to start off a game. It is something that RSL has greatly improved upon this season. Last season the team only scored 6 times in the first 15 minutes of matches (10.5% of all goals). In 2012 the team also scored 6 times during that same time period (13% of all goals scored). RSL has also scored more goals between the 16th and 30th minutes this season than during the same time periods in 2012 or 2013.

It is due to the increased scoring between the start of the match and the 30th minute that have led to the team scoring more goals in the first half than the second. In 2013 the team scored 38% of their goals in the first half. That number drops to 36% when looking at 2012.

This leads to the question of why? Why is RSL scoring so much more in the first half? Is it a change in philosophy with the team that they push more at the start of matches? While I can't answer this for sure the numbers seem to indicate that.

RSL's defense the first 15 minutes of matches has also been outstanding. They currently have only given up 1 goal during that time. RSL is +8 overall in the first half hour of matches. They are -2 for the remaining 60 minutes of matches. Here is the breakdown of the goals that RSL has given up.

Goals Con156447
% By Half44.44%55.56%

As you can see RSL is giving up more goals in the second half of matches than in the first. The same trend can be found last season when the team gave up 60.9% of their goals in the second half. In 2012 that number was at 80%.