Thursday, June 21, 2012

Crew Center Back Improvement Over 2011

Short on time this week because of a move back to German Village from the Brewery District which, somehow, has meant a crossing of High Street twice in the past five years. As we ponder that fact, let us take a look at this year's league table and compare it to last year as it pertains to the Columbus Crew (note: I am using per game point averages in League and Conf positions to account for the discrepancy in games played).

8th: Last Year
9th: This Year

3rd: 2011
5th: 2012

15th: 2011
14th: 2012

11th: 2011
8th: 2012

9th: 2011
3rd: 2012

We'll stop on this last one because the difference is significant. Warzycha's teams are already known for being stingy but this year they have allowed 2 less goals in the same number of games. That doesn't seem like a whole lot but consider this: goals are up nearly 10% this year in Major League Soccer. Columbus has CUT goals against by 13% (a 23pt swing against the league).

12 of the 18 clubs are allowing more goals than last year. An already stingy 2011 Columbus is made the 6th best improvement in Goals Against (KC, DC, VAN, POR, CHI better GA improvement, in that order) in 2012. This is something the team should be applauded for, absolutely.

Peeling back one more layer to see what might be contributing to this improvement, let's take a look at the Center Back pairings this year.

# of Starts Together : Names
3 : Marshall / Gehrig
2 : Marshall/Williams
2 : Marshall/O'Rourke
2 : Williams/Gehrig
2 : Williams/Mendes/Gehrig
2 : Williams/Mendes

Nothing in that. 13 Crew games and 6 different CB pairings. It's been by committee, right? Not really.

Marshall has the most starts at CB with 8 this year, Williams has 7, Gehrig at 5 (counting his half game subs of Mendes), followed by Mendes and O'Rourke at 2.

Marshall has 2 Wins, 2 Draws, 3 Loss. Williams is at 3 Wins, 3 Draws, 1 Loss... and Gehrig is at 3W-2D-2L.

You have to wonder if the loss of Chad Marshall's wing man (Julius James) hurt this team early on but it's hard not to point to last year and say that while Marshall and James were good, yes... but Williams / O'Rourke / Gehrig / Mendes are performing just as good, if not better.

-------------------- least to this point in the season. Long and Hot summer to work through. Gruenebuam has had a lot to do with the Goals Against improvement as well. Important to remember that Hesmer was no slouch either.

Back to moving...

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