Thursday, September 24, 2009

LA at Columbus Preview: Offensive Statistical Insights

By El Chupa
First off, I know you can't see the data given the technical limitations of free blogging, but if you click on the image at the left you'll be able to see a much larger version of it. Here's the skinny.

The chart gives us a break down of each team's leading offensive players. And as we've explained elsewhere, Pro and Pro/GM are Luchametric numbers that allow us to compare the overall offensive contributions or production of individual players. As you can see, Garey leads both teams with 4.05/GM, followed by Beckham, Schelotto, Buddle, Donovan and Lenhart. In Overall Production for the season, Schelotto is on top followed by Donovan, and both are light-years ahead of the rest of the players on both teams. This is not only a reflection of their individual ability, but also their role on their respective teams (the fact that their job is to score and create scoring chances for others so they will naturally have higher numbers than, say, the goalkeeper). Notice also that Schelotto leads both teams when it comes to how many minutes it takes him before he produces either a Goal or an Assist with 105. Garey is second at 110.5 followed by Donovan (115.31) and then Beckham (124.6).

And as we've discussed elsewhere, we think one of the leading indicators of the quality of a scorer is the percentage of Shots on Goal that player turns into actual goals, as a scorer's merit is determined not simply by how many opportunities he either creates on his own or are given to him by his teammates, but the rate at which he actually converts those opportunities into goals. And in this category, Schelotto is the winner, as over one-half of his SOGs turn in to actual goals. Give him an inch, he'll take a freaking mile. Donovan is second at .40.

The numbers tell us what most of us already know: these teams match up extremely closely offensively. Both Beckham and Garey lead their respective teams in Pro/GM but both have played only just over 600 minutes. This suggests that given more playing time, their numbers would drop back down a bit closer to the standard set by Schelotto and Donovan, if not lower. But clearly each team can get goals out of a number of different players and from a number of positions on the field.

One thing we like about the Crew, however, is that they have more players with over two goals each. This confirms what we've already known for a while: that the Crew is very balanced and deep when it comes to putting players on the pitch who can pressure the other team and get the ball in the back of the net (case in point: Lenhart coming off the bench). In a tight game, especially late in the game, this gives the Crew a definite advantage over the rest of the league and over LA, especially at home. It also speaks well for the team's prospects in the playoffs.

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