Thoughts & Numbers: What I’m watching for in MLS Matchday 33 |

Thoughts & Numbers: What I’m watching for in MLS Matchday 33 |

Midweek MLS! As usual, all numbers are courtesy of TruMedia via StatsPerform unless otherwise noted.

Charlotte FC vs. Philadelphia Union

Charlotte are dead last in shot-creating actions per 90 with 17.15, as per FBRef. Philly are in the top 10 at 23.37, and are second overall in shots created from set pieces.

Columbus Crew vs. Chicago Fire FC

Chicago, as you might have guessed, are 28th in shot-creating actions per 90, just ahead of Charlotte. Columbus are fifth by that metric, and are first in shots created after a take-on – i.e., Wilfried Nancy wants his guys to be brave on the ball and they’re complying.

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United

D.C.’s two top chance creators per 90, in terms of expected assists, are winger José Fajardo and wingback Ruan, each of whom crosses a ton (beware of the small sample size with Fajardo, but still). That tells you about all you need to know about the D.C. game model this year.
Atlanta don’t have that issue as their No. 10, Thiago Almada, is second in MLS in total xA as per FBRef.

Inter Miami CF vs. Toronto FC

The 5-2 scoreline in Miami’s loss this past weekend was glaring, but the underlying stats have said that kind of beating was due, as they’ve conceded at least 1.4 expected goals in four of their five regular-season matches since winning Leagues Cup last month.
The anemic TFC attack is dead last in total xG generated, so they could be just what the doctor’s ordered for Miami’s defense.

CF Montréal vs. FC Cincinnati

Montréal under Wilfried Nancy were fourth in the league in total progressive passes hit last year. This year, under Hernan Losada, they’re more direct but paradoxically hit fewer overall progressive passes (just 15th) because they have so much less of the ball.
Cincy were 24th last year and are 23rd this year. Which makes sense, because their game model hasn’t changed.

NYCFC vs. Orlando City SC

NYCFC are down to 53.7% possession, which is fifth in the league. That’d be their lowest finish since their expansion season.
Orlando City are down to 49.8%, which would be the first time they’ve finished below 50% under Oscar Pareja. In this case, that number was fueled by playing against the ball for the first half of the season after starting the year with that Tigres series.

New York Red Bulls vs. Austin FC

Consider this your friendly reminder that RBNY’s model does not care about connecting passes – they trade possession for field position. As such they are once again dead last in passes received.
Austin are 14th in that metric, a bit of a drop from last year’s 10th.

Houston Dynamo FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

The Dynamo are a middle-of-the-pack possession team, but are fifth in touches in their own defensive third. They love to hold the ball with those deep-lying midfielders, draw the opposing team up, and then beat them in behind at pace.
Vancouver are 20th in that metric, but are fourth in touches in the attacking penalty area. Two very different game models on display here.

Sporting Kansas City vs. Nashville SC

Sporting are second in the league in progressive carries, with a huge number of those coming from winger Dániel Sallói and Johnny Russell, as well as attacking midfielder Erik Thommy. These guys have license to get on the ball and go.
Nashville are tied for last in that metric. They prefer to hit long-balls instead.

St. Louis CITY SC vs. LAFC

The Black & Gold are at their usual spot near the top of the table in take-ons, sitting second behind the Crew. But they’re successful on only 49.7%, which is down from 51.2% a year ago and from a high of 57.0% in 2019.
St. Louis don’t dribble much – they’re last in the league in carries.

Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders

Reed Baker-Whiting picked up an assist last weekend in Seattle’s 1-1 draw, and now has the same amount of xA in his 455 minutes this year as normal starting left back Nouhou has in nearly 2,200 minutes. They are very different players.
Cole Bassett had probably his best game of the year last weekend, and Colorado’s decision to sit deeper and invite the Revs upfield allowed him to complete multiple through-balls in a game for the first time since March.

Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas

Pablo Ruiz might be done until 2024, but RSL are still the league leaders in long-balls attempted. Dallas are 26th.
One of these teams will want to blow the game open by making it big, while the other want to control it by making it small.

LA Galaxy vs. Minnesota United

Emanuel Reynoso and Riqui Puig are two of the best No. 10s in the league.
  • Bebelo leads the league with an absurd 9.12 shot creating actions per 90 (for context, no one last year was over 6.8 and in Carles Gil’s magnificent 2021 Landon Donovan MLS MVP campaign he was at 8.91).
  • Riqui is seventh in that number, but is an absolute workhorse in ball progression – No. 1 by a mile in both total carries and progressive distance of those carries.
Both of these guys have been let down by their attacking teammates.

Portland Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Portland have two straight wins and posted a positive xG differential in back-to-back games for just the second time all year.
The Quakes have had a positive xG differential in just one road game this season. Related: they have just two road wins.

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