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D.C. United Statistical Analysis - 2017

Through gritted teeth, we look at the season in stats

Looking back on the last eight months, the best thing I can say is that the 2017 D.C. United season was a thing that happened. The results on the field were worse than poor, especially for a club that had made the playoffs for three years running. So before I take whatever is needed to make me forget that 2017 happened, the following is a look at the D.C. United season in numbers.

As usual, the first graphic is centered around shots, goals, and assists; the second is around further offensive numbers; the third is around defensive numbers; and the fourth is a quick one on goalkeeping. For each category, the leading number will be filled with red for players with 900 or more minutes, and any leaders not meeting that minutes threshold will have red numbers with a light shading behind it. Let’s get to it.

Luciano Acosta wrestled the lead in minutes played from 2016’s leader, Taylor Kemp. While Acosta played 243 more minutes this season than last, his 2419 minutes this season would have been sixth in 2016. That reflects the injury problems that DCU had this year. Acosta also led in shots and shots on goal, but he had to share the lead in goals scored with Patrick Mullins. I just can’t bring myself to call it the Golden Boot.

Mullins, despite having trouble getting untracked this year, was the most frequent scorer on the team. His two-game burst of five goals toward the end of the year was enough to bring him to 0.42 goals per 90 minutes over the course of the season, which was a decrease from his 0.63 G/90 in 2016. He was also the team’s most frequent shooter with 3.18 shots per 90, though Acosta was the most accurate, with 52.17% of his shots being on goal. An honorable mention here goes to deadline acquisition Zoltan Stieber, who played just 526 minutes but had the most SOG/90 (1.20) and was the most accurate shooter (53.85%) otherwise.

Let’s look further into the DCU offense:

Acosta led the team in passes attempted and completed, which isn’t a surprise when you consider that players like Marcelo Sarvas and Kemp, who both were ahead of Acosta in 2016, played much less in 2017. Ian Harkes is the leader in pass accuracy because Rob Vincent played just 66 minutes. Russell Canouse is worth a mention here because his 84.1% is second best on the team, but his late arrival kept him from meeting the minutes threshold.

Continuing his general statistical shining, Luciano Acosta led the team in total key passes and dribbles attempted and completed. He wasn’t the most efficient in those categories, as Lloyd Sam’s 2.31 key passes per 90 was better than Acosta’s 1.97, and Acosta’s 50.63% dribble completion was well off the lead. Zoltan Stieber gets another minutes-induced honorable mention, this time in key passes where his 2.74 per 90 led the whole team.

Patrick Mullins was the most offside player in 2017, with 16 total and 1.34 per 90. Those numbers aren’t that bad, and he’s only the leader because Jose Ortiz and Lamar Neagle, who both led that category early in the season, left the team during the season.

Lastly, Acosta lapped the field in loss of possession. While his unsuccessful first touches (UT) went up considerably from 61 in 2016 to 75 in ‘17, and his times dispossessed fell just slightly from 74 last season to 70 this season, his loss of possession per 90 number actually marginally improved from 5.58 per 90 in 2016 to 5.39 this season because he played more minutes in 2017. That said, have a look at Bruno Miranda, who played just 53 minutes this year but lost possession six times during that time. That’s obviously a very, very small sample size, so his blushes are spared.

Let’s get to the defense:

Marcelo Sarvas is still the team’s most active tackler, leading the team in attempts despite playing 400 fewer minutes this season than last. Unlike last season, when he was successful on a team-leading 100 of 141 tackles, he was successful on just 59 of his 113 this season, a precipitous fall from 70.92% to 52.21%. Kofi Opare was the most efficient tackler, with a 91.43% success ratio on just 35 tackles, a huge increase from 64.29% in 2016. He attempted just 14 tackles in 2016, but he failed on more (5) in 2016 than he did in 2017 (3) while attempting 2.5x the tackles. Jared Jeffrey led the team in successful tackles and successful tackles per 90, but Canouse gets an honorable mention for edging Jeffrey out by .01 tackles per 90, but he didn’t qualify on minutes. Bruno Miranda gets a note here for going 4 for 4 in his limited minutes.

Steve Birnbaum, as usual, is a star in the air. He’s led the team in both aerial attempts and wins since 2015. It may be difficult to ever approach his 6.17 aerial wins per 90 from 2015, but at least his 2017 number of 4.12 is a slight increase from 4.07 last season.

Now how about the goalkeepers?

I’m as sad as anyone about the departure of Bill Hamid, and it didn’t hit me how bad the goalkeeping options were behind him until I did this. Hamid barely saw more shots per 90 than both Clark and Worra, but just look at those save percentages. I know that goalkeeping is difficult to quantify because not every shot is the same as the next, but it’s really hard to look at Clark and Worra’s numbers and not think that this team needs to go out and get a legitimate starting goalkeeper for 2018.

With 2017 mercifully ending, we can now look towards 2018 and a new stadium. The team’s new arrivals, especially Canouse and Stieber, give us reason for hope from a statistical perspective, and hopefully that hope doesn’t stop there.