Monday, November 16, 2015

Indy Eleven 2015 Goals

Soccer teams need to have goals. No, I'm not talking about the "make the playoffs" or "win the Championship" variety of goals, though those are good to have too. I'm talking about the "put the ball in the opponent's goal" type of goals. Defense may win championships (and the two stingiest defenses in the NASL played for the Championship on Sunday as proof), but scoring goals is good too. If you never let the other team score, you can have a string of "undefeated" results, but if you don't score, you'll never go on a "winning streak" either. Goals are good.

The Indy Eleven goal scoring was not what it needed to be this year. Indy Eleven didn't score in 7 league games, but were also held scoreless in the U.S. Open Cup game versus Louisville FC and the international friendly against Monarcas Morelia. That means that in about 25% of the games this year, the Eleven went home without gathering at the corner flag or ripping off their shirts or jumping into the stands in celebration.

In the entirety of the NASL, 453 goals were scored by the 11 teams. That comes out to an average of 41.18 goals per team with Minnesota United as the high with 54 goals scored and Atlanta Silverbacks on the low end with 31. Thirty games for each team means that, on average, the teams scored 1.37 goals per game.

How did the Eleven compare to those numbers?  The Eleven were below average in total goals, scoring 36 goals for the season putting them in 8th place. That comes out to 1.2 goals per game. The Eleven also gave up 48 goals on the year putting them in 8th place. Coincidentally (or not), the Eleven finished the combined table in a tie for...wait for it...8th place. It was only because of a poorer goal differential that pushed them to finish officially in 9th place.

The Eleven had a -12 goal differential, which was second worst in the league, ahead of only Jacksonville with -13.  The 7-goal onslaught by Fort Lauderdale in the 7-1 loss in late August didn't help this statistic, but they would still be one of the worst in the league even if that had been a "reasonable" defeat. Though a 3-1 defeat in that game would have meant that the Eleven would have finished tied with Atlanta, but with a better goal differential moving them up a spot in the table.

The Eleven were in the lower half of the league in goals scored and goals allowed and goal differential. That's how you finish in the lower half of the table.

Sidenote: Amazingly, the Indy Eleven's stats for 2014 were quite similar. 35 goals scored for 7th place; 46 goals against for 8th place; and a -11 goal differential for 8th place. The Eleven finished tied for 8th place, but the negative goal differential pushed them to officially finish in 9th place. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Let's look at some of the specifics of the Eleven goals though. Who scored? How many different players scored? What position on the field were the shots taken? How many were of the Penalty Kick variety?

Throughout the season, I saw a couple of other teams that created a Goal Scoring graphic and I hoped that the Eleven would do the same thing. If they did and I missed it, I apologize for duplicating their effort, but here was a graphic I created showing every single goal scored by the Eleven and its approximate location on the field, highlighting the goals that were scored from outside the 18-yard box in a different color.

The Eleven's 36 goals came from 15 different players plus 1 Own Goal that came in the April game against Carolina on a deflected cross from Charlie Rugg. It's in the graphic, but I'll duplicate it here. Goals were scored by:

  • McKinney (1)
  • Frias (1)
  • Ring (1)
  • Norales (3)
  • Mares (5)
  • Smart (3)
  • Brown (5)
  • Ceballos (2)
  • Lacroix (2)
  • Hyland (1)
  • Wojcik (2)
  • Pena (2)
  • Richards (3)
  • Steinberger (2)
  • Pineda (2)
Brown and Mares were the team's leading scorers with 5 goals each, meaning those two players accounted for 28% of the team's scoring. Here's hoping they both are back next season.

It's interesting to see some of the clusters.  Mares scored 4 of his 5 goals from the PK spot or left and all of his goals came from inside the box. All of Smart's goals were from straight out. Richards liked the right side of the field. Two of Norales' three goals came from headers at the 6-yard line. Pena, unsurprisingly, has the largest distance between his goals though it helps when one is from the center circle.

Counting all those red dots on my graphic shows that the Eleven scored 12 of their 36 goals from outside the 18-yard box. 33% of their goals came from long distance strikes. I don't know what is typical, but that seems like a significant percentage of a team's goals. If you count Steinbergers' first goal against Jacksonville where he chipped the goalkeeper from the 18-yard line and hustled to finish the attempt in front of a retreating defender at the goal line, that number gets even a little higher.

I saw this photo recently linked on Reddit (thanks for letting me use it Yazbremski):

Considering that two of those twelve goals from outside the box were in the running for the NASL Goal of the Year, that might be a fairly accurate assessment. They didn't score a lot, but they certainly had some dramatic goals this year.

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