By Harrison Crow (@harrison_crow)
Welcome to Lowered Expectations, the week 12 edition! Each week, we go about posting chalkboards and GIFs of the weekend’s best open-play shot attempts which did not quite live up to expectations (and rarely do we update this paragraph). We look at each one and not only evaluate the results, but also the process leading to them.
#5 - Tosaint Ricketts, Toronto FC, 63rd minute, 0.295 expected goals
Assisted by: Victor Vasquez
Passes in sequence: 4
I remember watching this live, and initially being very surprised he missed the shot but at the same time coming back down to earth and feeling as though the expected goal model was probably a bit low on the chance. What’s funny is the associated value is kind of reflective of both these views.
The chance itself was an above average but certainly not a “gimme”. There are obviously a few things the model isn’t taking into account that makes things a bit tougher. He gets through on a nice pass by Victor Vasquez but the angle and window to get it past Joe Bendik is rather small. Tosaint Ricketts just pokes the ball with his right foot and with it puts just a bit too much spin on it. Luckily, Jay Chapman was there to drive it back home.
Quick shout out to Ricketts. The dude has just settled in as Jozy Altidore’s backup since coming to the team from Boluspor and the Turkish second division in 2016. In nearly 2,000 minutes since he’s averaged 0.58 xG+xA per96 and 10.9 total xG+xA. This is basically equivalent to Dominique Badji, Danny Hoesen or Juan Agudelo in 2017. Heck, Colorado paid Kevin Doyle over a million for below that production and over three seasons. He’s been a steal of a deal and yet another reason TFC is as strong as they are.
#4 - Borek Dockal, Philadelphia Union, 57th minute, 0.382 expected goals
Assisted by: N/A
Number of passes in sequence: 5
Wow. Stop me if you’ve heard this before but Borek Dockal (or just insert any other Union player here) just missed out on a point blank shot. Analysis.
I’m not going to address this shot. It is what it is and I’m tired of dissecting these Union shots only to have someone just distill it down to “they’re not good." The growing majority of people think the Philadelphia Union are, and you might want to be sitting down for this---bad.
Yeah, look, I’m not so sure I buy into all of that. Looking at both expected goals against and shots against they’re fourth overall, and in expected goals for they're seventh. They’ve been really solid, and so far it’s these exact plays that continually end up falling in their opponents' favor that are the difference in them sitting out of the playoffs than in a potential playoff spot.
Their PDO, TSR, and GD-xGD all point to the team being both A) unlucky and B) headed back towards positive regression of the mean. It’s not just “one stat” saying this but a collection of various pieces of evidence. What’s more, they’re only 7th overall in the Eastern Conference on points per game, and trail New England by all of three points.
I realize that this isn’t a popular opinion and it comes on the heels of me tearing into Earnie Stewart’s time with the Union on twitter. But this team has some really good underlying numbers and their shot creation/prevention process is much better than at any other time in their history. There is the possibility they could continue to get “unlucky” and never return back to the mean, but with how consistent they’ve been at creating good shots, I’m buying belief stock.
Still, David Accam has not been the same player he was in Chicago. He’s not getting to the same dangerous spots and he’s not helping to create the same high leverage shots that he was consistently doing for Nemanja Nikolić last year and I’m honestly not sure why.
Accam has still been successful dribbling into the final third and at about the same rate as last year. My best guess is that he’s still settling into the Philadelphia attack, that’s also still trying to find it’s own identity at this stage too. This may just need more than two months worth of data to figure out.
Here are Accam's numbers per 96 minutes for each of his seasons in MLS: