By Harrison Crow (@Harrison_Crow)
The theme or narrative I've pushed, and really most of us over the last few week, has surrounded the end of the season. We've talked about the playoffs probabilities, Supporter Shield finalists, MLS Cup winners and in the end, possible CCL bids. But as we talk about the end of the season we've neglected to mention much concerning the individual accomplishments or hardware that might be awarded after the season. I'm not talking about the 'Landon Donovan MVP trophy or whomever the new comber of the year award is given. Those are all stupid.
The awards given out by the League are subjective and will either piss off one supporter base or another. This is why I'm going to go in another slightly different direction. Rather than award the popularity or subjectivity, I'm going to highlight statistical significance—we are a numbers blog after all.
There are of course terms and conditions for these numbers, such as the season isn't even over and there are teams with as many as 360 minutes to play. That said we're going to jump ahead and talk about numbers.
Player with most xG or “If Only This Was Fantasyland Award”
Kei Kamara – Columbus Crew, 18.09 xG
Bradley Wright-Phillips – New York Red Bulls, 17.48 xG
Sebastian Giovinco – Toronto FC, 16.55 xG
Kamara and Gio are probably pretty obvious being that their one and two in total goals scored. But BWP had all sorts of questions surrounding him following the retirment of Thiery Henry. There is something that is special that he returned and had another great year.
Player with most expected assists or “If Only He Played With Perfect Teammates Award”
Benny Feilhaber – Sporting KC, 7.96 xA
Sacha Kljestan – New York Red Bulls, 7.63 xA
Brad Davis – Houston Dynamo, 7.56 xA
There is something special about the season that Feilhaber has put together. He's transitioning from being a good player into an elite game changer in this league. Additionally, I can't imagine you could have guessed that Kljestan or Davis would have followed him on this list.
Player with most xG+xA or “Probably Gonna Be In MVP Running Award”
Sebastian Giovinco – Toronto FC, 23.67 xG+xA
Kei Kamara – Columbus Crew SC, 22.12 xG+xA
David Villa – New York City FC, 21.11 xG+xA
I briefly skipped over Gio and Kamara above but let me go into something; both Kamara and Gio are having top-10 individual performance seasons since we started tracking expected goals back in 2011 and Gio is probably going to end up near a top-3 performance. It's been a really fun year.
Oh, and Villa makes the train wreck that has been NYC for most of the year worth watching. He does at least one amazing thing each game… and yet they still have such a terrible record.
Most fouls suffered or “The John Elway, Face, Meet Ground Award”
Matias Perez Garcia – San Jose Earthquakes, 78 fouls
Sebastian Giovinco – Toronto FC, 78 fouls
Cristian Higuita – Orlando City SC, 75 fouls
I actually went into this assuming Darlington Nagbe or Fabian Castillo or someone considered “elite” would have the top spot. And, yeah, sure—Giovinco is tied for the top spot but (!!!) he shares it with Perez Garcia. And it's him who I want to focus upon.
Garcia was a dynamite playmaker for San Jose and it's largely due to his return from being injured that the Goonies made their return towards a potential playoff spot. His numbers are awkwardly similar (and a bit better) to Javier Morales in nearly the same amount of time.
Player with highest percentage of team touches or “The Molly Ringwald Touch Me Award”
Javier Morales – Real Salt Lake, 14.9%
Dax McCarty – New York Red Bulls, 13.7%
Gonzalo Pineda – Seattle Sounders FC, 13.5%
HEY! Speaking of Javier Morales, he's been everything to Real Salt Lake and his return has suddenly re-energized the club. I'm not surprised how much he's a vital piece of their team. I'm a bit surprised as how much possession, and with it influence, Pineda has on the Seattle side especially after listening to Nos Auditis talking about him in the shuttling role.
McCarty is awesome. Duh. Is this thing still on?
Player with the most duels won or “The Running Man Award”
Alvas Powell – Portland Timbers, 241
Cristian Higuita – Orlando City SC, 196
Kei Kamara – Columbus Crew SC, 192
I've been following the young Jamaican right back over the year for Portland and last year calling him the Portland version of DeAndre Yedlin seems a lot less hyperbolic. Oh, and there is Kamara again. Because that dude is all over the place. He wins so many balls through the air that are served up for him by Ethan Finlay and Justin Meram.
Lastly, I haven't mentioned Higuita despite this being the second time on the list because… well, I really haven't noticed him play. And that's not because I haven't watched Orlando this year. I've watched four or five or their games and yet he never really registered. I know he started in those games but I never came away feeling “wow, that young winger is really good”. Actually—I've felt the exact opposite. It's been more “hey they really need Brek Shea or Kevin Molino back”.
Mr. Dependable XI
(i.e. players with the most minutes played at their position)
GK= David Bingham – San Jose Earthquakes
LB = Jorge Villafana – Portland Timbers
CB = Bobby Boswell – DC United
CB = Michael Parkhurst – Columbus Crew SC
RB = Tyrone Mears – Seattle Sounders FC
RM = Ethan Finlay – Columbus Crew SC
CM = Scott Caldwell – New England Revolution
CM = Andrew Jacobson – New York City
LM = Justin Meram – Columbus Crew SC
ST = Kei Kamara – Columbus Crew SC
ST = Octavio Rivero – Vancouver Whitecaps
I think it's kind of interesting how many of these guys play for top teams… and how many are from Columbus. It's kind of weird, though probably not all that surprising considering the lack of depth in MLS. Teams that are successful tend to have their important players for large amounts of their season. But then there is Andrew Jacobson… so maybe just forget everything I wrote.
Weekend Game Schedule:
If you want our model's estimate on how these games will end, check out our projected game results.
New York City (-0.42 xGD) @ DC United (-0.40 xGD), 7pm
Philadelphia Union (0.02 xGD) @ Toronto FC (0.20 xGD), 5pm
Columbus Crew SC (0.07 xGD) @ New York Red Bulls (0.44 xGD), 7pm
Montreal Impact (0.01 xGD) @ Orlando City SC (-0.13 xGD), 7:30pm
New England Revolution (0.11 xGD) @ Chicago Fire (-0.03 xGD), 8:30pm
Vancouver Whitecap (0.14 xGD) @ San Jose Earthquake (0.06 xGD), 10:30pm
Portland Timbers (0.11 xGD) @ Sporting KC (0.16 xGD), 10:30pm
Houston Dynamo (0.07 xGD) @ FC Dallas (0.04 xGD), 5pm
LA Galaxy (0.12 xGD) @ Seattle Sounders (0.04 xGD), 6:30pm
Real Salt Lake (-0.44 xGD) @ Colorado Rapids (-0.14 xGD), 7pm