Sunday, October 16, 2016

Naess, Saeid lift a bad '16 Crew

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Here is a look at Columbus Crew SC team performance as far as points earned when each player starts. This will give us a general feel for how well the team did (in 2016) when a particular player was selected and perhaps give us some insight on where the issues were this year that otherwise might've been missed.

NameGms StartedPtsPPG34 GmsPlus/minus Team
Nicolai Naess11171.555315
Mohammed Saeid23331.434911
Hector Jimenez13171.31446
Justin Meram29361.24424
Ethan Finlay27321.19402
Harrison Afful28321.14391
Steve Clark32361.13380
Michael Parkhurst32361.13380
Tyson Wahl11121.0937-1
Dilly Duka12131.0837-1
Gaston Sauro12131.0837-1
Fedrico Higuain17181.0636-2
Ola Kamara18191.0636-2
Corey Ashe13131.0034-4
Wil Trapp27271.0034-4
Waylon Francis13100.7726-12
Tony Tchani18130.7225-13

That's an impressive haul from Nicolai Naess and Mohammed Saeid this year. The points per game average played out over 34 games would be enough to earn a playoff spot. Though, that sort of projecting is a little tricky because players don't normally start that many. It's used here to give me an idea of how much better the team is with them in there. It separates the numbers a bit, highlights impact a bit more than PPG.

When played together during the last part of the 2016 season Naess and Saeid earned 1.78 points per game (all but one game from round 23-32).

Fittingly enough, with Halloween right around the corner, there are a couple frightening figures in here. Most notably: Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani. The ballast to Gregg Berhalter's system the first two years he was in charge. Completely and totally did not work this year. Wil Trapp, in particular. Something was off. It's possible that it was his grandfather's passing early in the year, or perhaps lingering injuries. Not sure.

Waylon Francis' season went off course as well, but it's not like his backup / replacement Corey Ashe helped the situation. Interestingly, it wasn't until Hector Jimenez filled that role that things got a bit better (again, late in the season).

NameGms StartedPtsPPG
Adam Jahn372.33
Rodrigo Saravia133.00
Chad Barson310.33

Missing in the figure at the top of this post are three players that didn't get to start much. Normally, when looking at this facts and figures like this I tend to discount players under five or so starts. Adam Jahn's contribution to points, however, is important to a team that has so few.

Jahn's small impact, alongside the mysterious disappearance of Ola Kamara late this year, also points me in a direction that I didn't expect to go in in regards to the key issues with the season. Was there something Kamara was doing to hurt the team? The team record was statistically about the same with or without him over the course of the season and he did score goals, but the late mini-surge once Berhalter sat him in favor of Jahn, raises questions.

Examining the wreckage of a lost MLS season is much more complex than metrics like the one above, but it does give insight. A place to start digging and questioning. Light up some dark places, so-to-speak.

The year will probably be remembered for the Kamara fiasco, but maybe the season could have taken a turn towards the playoffs if a few players were left off the starting eleven during one of the bad runs this year.

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