Revs Forwards: A Statistical Analysis of Heaps' "We Will Attack"

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If the Revs were awarded a point for every time you've heard the Jay Heaps mantra, "We Will Attack" we'd be comfortably atop the East. But we're not; and the Revs standings-wise are in no better of a place than 2011. Is our attack any better?

If the Revs were awarded a point for every time you've heard the Jay Heaps mantra, "We Will Attack" we'd be comfortably atop the Eastern Conference. But we're not; and the Revs standings-wise are in no better position than 2011. Even though we find ourselves in the cold, dark and lonely basement of the East, can we say that there has been improvement in the main area the rookie coach sought to improve? Earlier this year, I attempted to expose a statistical difference in a Nicol-coached New England Revolution squad versus a Heaps one to see if the attack was indeed more potent. The results were inconclusive.

This time I chose to isolate the data strictly to the forwards. Are the attackers doing what they are paid to do and scoring goals? The 2012 campaign is now 82% complete and with injuries ending seasons and new transfers only providing limited data to analyze them by it became difficult to evaluate expected production over an entire season.

A new stat category was needed.

Taking the total minutes in an MLS season (34 games * 90 min = 3,060) and dividing that by the result of minutes played divided by goals scored per forward you can determine roughly what you could expect a forward to score if he were to play every minute of the season. Obviously you can't expect a forward or really anyone to play every minute of the season, but the stat can provide an accurate enough estimate. We are going to call this category "Projected Goals - Full Season." Check out the data below comparing the 2011 forwards to the 2012 group. Who's better?

Projections_large

GP=Games Played, GS=Games Started, Minutes, Goals Scored, Goals per 90 minutes, Projected goals over a season. All data taken from MLSsoccer.com. Projections are estimates only and not fact.

Isn't it sad to see how lethal Saer Sene could have been if he was healthy? A projection of roughly 17 goals is Taylor Twellman-esque! Let's agree that a minimum minutes played threshold needs to be determined before we can consider it a legitimate set of data accurate enough to forecast by. For example, in the 2011 forwards pool we can confidently say there is no way you can expect Illija Stolica to score 42 goals or that Diego would net 20. Let's compromise and say 400 minutes is enough data.

Conclusions: What does the data tell us?

  • Saer Sene and Jerry Bengtson are the real deal. This duo, if paired together over the course of a season could realistically tally somewhere near 20-30 goals a season. Point FO.
  • Goals per 90 minutes played looks more promising in the 2012 crew.
  • Dimitry Imbongo will be interesting to reanalyze at the conclusion of the season with more data available. The 'Bongo is still a question mark.
  • Blake Brettschneider is not producing enough to warrant any additional starts.
  • Saer Sene / Jerry Bengtson have proved more lethal than a Rajko Lekic / Milton Caraglio duo. Hindsight.
  • It appears that keeping Caraglio or Lekic would have proved just as effective and possibly cheaper than bringing Jose Moreno. This point is moot with the introduction of Bengtson.

The 2011 and 2012 teams are only separated by approximately four goals based on current projections. Is that really an improvement in attacking? Yes and no. While overall it is not, when looking at who is scoring the goals it is. The can be seen when analyzing what percentage of the total goals were actually scored by forwards. In 2007, the last time the New England Revolution made to MLS Cup, 53%, or 27 of the team's 51 goals were scored by forwards Adam Cristman, Pat Noonan and Taylor Twellman. In 2006 that number was 54%. In 2011 a paltry 37% of the Revs goals were scored by forwards showing a clear lack of quality and potency up top. In 2012 however, that number spikes back up to 51% mirroring the performance data of MLS Cup-caliber Revs squads.

We can be confident that our attackers are better this year. The front five of this squad, with an off-season together could prove to be dangerous next year. With promising projections and quality attackers this can allow the sole focus for this front office this off-season to be strengthening the back four.

What do you make of the projections? What additional conclusion did you make from the comparison chart? Let us know in the comment section.

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