By Drew Olsen (@drewjolsen)
Welcome to Lowered Expectations, week 20 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.
Eds note: You're stuck with Drew writing LE this week because Harrison is on assignment assisting Patrick Mullins on his move from DC to Columbus. If you know Patrick Mullins, please let him know that Harrison is not a stalker, and just wants to help.
#5 - Teal Bunbury, New England Revolution, 74th minute, 0.410 expected goals
Assisted by: Andrew Farrell
Passes in sequence: 12
This is great buildup from New England - the one-two sequence between Luis Caicedo and Juan Agudelo that the GIF begins with is a beaut - but it ends without much of a threat. Harrison may be gone, but I'm going to continue the Lowered Expectations tradition of hating on crosses. This is a pretty sequence that ends as a dud because Andrew Farrell decides to launch the ball into the box, despite having space to run to the corner. Blame also partially falls on Agudelo, who started to run forward to give Farrell a square-pass option, but then abandons his run and offers the drop, which Caicedo already has covered. Still, it looked like a dangerous sequence until Farrell sent in his cross.
It's a bit of a miracle that Teal Bunbury even touched the ball, and this is perfect example of our xG model overrating a chance. The model only knows that this was a shot from the top of six-yard box with Bunbury's foot; it doesn't know that it's on the full volley with a defender marking him closely. New England has turned things around this season, but it's hard not to feel a bit disappointed in how this sequence turned out.
#4 - Roland Lamah, FC Dallas, 42nd minute, 0.428 expected goals
Assisted by: Michael Barrios
How about these passes from Santiago Mosquera and Roland Lamah? It begins when Carlos Gruezo does well to see Mosquera and Ryan Hollingshead alone on the wing, which forces the Chicago midfield to quickly adjust right. The Fire are able to close them down, so Mosquera sends a bomb into Lamah, who deftly taps to the ball back to Michael Barrios. The pass from Mosquera is perfectly weighted, but Lamah's understanding of where Barrios is and his ability to drop the ball back is the best part of this GIF. The challenge on those high arching crosses is to control them at all - the skill to find Barrios with a pass that isn't overhit is truly impressive.
After that, it's not as pretty. Barrios crosses it in and it hits off of Lamah, who somehow gets credit for a shot. It seems like an optimistic bit of judgment by the trackers - if anything, it looks like Lamah is trying to pass the ball back to Barrios, not shoot - but maybe they wanted to reward him for his nice pass. Either way I thank them for letting me watch these passes a few more times.
#3 - Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC, 59th minute, 0.444 expected goals
Assisted by: Michael Bradley
Number of passes in sequence: 7
Trigger warning for the Twitteratti: he's still got it. Michael Bradley isn't having his best season (nobody on Toronto is), but he's still one of the best players in MLS. With Mauro Diaz gone, Bradley may be the only player left in the league that is able to produce passes like this. Bradley receives the ball, picks his head up, sees Sebastian Giovinco start his run, and puts the ball on a rope over the Orlando backline and into Giovinco's path. Giovinco has time to take a touch and shoot, which requires an impressive save from Earl Edwards.
This is Toronto at their best, and it's what they've been missing this season. Their CCL hangover has turned into liver disease, and I think we can now confidently say that they're not going to make the playoffs (assuming 41 points are needed for the last playoff spot TFC would need to average two points per game over their remaining schedule. It would take Air Bud coming out of retirement to save them).
I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Jordan Hamilton follows up the rebound with a shot that probably injured a Disney princess in the stands. Hamilton has been mostly terrible; among forwards, he has the 6th worst passing Score per 96 minutes in the league. The players above him can get away with it because they actually score goals sometimes (table below), but he has no excuse. Hamilton hasn't been passing well or creating many chances, but he somehow keeps getting minutes. Despite that, Toronto must be happy with him because rumors suggest Tossaint Rickets may soon be leaving for a team in Israel.