Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Trapp, Saeid Compare (+Tchani, Tchani and Sanchez?)

There have been a lot of comparisons in Columbus between the 1st 17 games of last season and the same this year. While it is true that the team is sitting in basically the same spot on the table, it is also true that this year’s start is a major step down (and back) from an outstanding second half of 2014 - a back half that saw a league leading Crew SC earning almost 2 points per game along with 2 goals per game.

Perhaps the most surprising difference are the goals. Crew SC added Kei Kamara this year and he is already on 12 goals, which accounts for nearly half of the team haul. Last 17 games of 2014 saw 33 goals. What this means is with Aaron Schoenfeld and Adam Bedell scrambling around up top scored 30% more than a Kamara lead Crew.

How can this be? The team address a concern and he is doing great but the team is worse? A quick look at the log book shows that Schoenfeld and Bedell combined for only 5 of the 33 goals last half of last year. The other goals came from the mid-field that was clicking on a spectacular level. Such a high level that most pundits were pegging Columbus to be contending for the Supporters’ Shield this year.

2nd Half 2014, 17 games : 33 Goals
Finlay : 7
Meram : 6
Higuain : 5
Anor : 4
Schoenfeld : 3
Arrieta : 2
Bedell : 2
Trapp : 1
Speas : 1
Gonzalez : 1
(own goal) : 1

That’s 25 goals generated from the midfield, absolutely amazing - practically Champagne Football. This year, through the same number of games it is 13. A 12 goal drop in the midfield (which happens to be Kamara’s take).

Crew SC still pass the ball more often than their opponents this year and are fielding practically the same players with the exception of Kamara up top and Wil Trapp in the central defensive mid. Kamara is doing his part for sure but the team has morphed into a more direct Finlay to Kamara, crossing team. It’s yielding gaudy individual stat lines but it’s not as effective as last year, nor is it yielding points.

Critically important to Gregg Berhalter’s tactics is the defending midfielders and with Trapp out we’ve seen Mohammed Saeid move into that spot alongside Tony Tchani.

Tchani is the constant so we can look at some of the key differences between Saeid this year and Trapp last year and come to some conclusions. It’s never one thing, of course, but it looks like Saeid is a much more passive / possession type player than Trapp.

Looking at the graphic you can see that Saeid’s pass completion percentage is statistically the same as Trapp but the number of forward passes is a lot lower, which in turn leads to less key passes (passes that lead to opportunity). A lot of this is reflected in Squawka’s “Possession Score” towards to bottom of the graphic and below that the night and day difference in the “Defense” score (it should be noted that Columbus allowed 23 goals 2nd half last year and 25 through same number of games this year).

I think Saeid is playing a critically important role for this year’s Columbus team but his approach to the game is drastically different than the relative force of nature that Wil Trapp was last year. It’d be interesting to see Saeid alongside Trapp for a few games but it’s hard to break up the successful pairing of Tchani / Trapp.

One thing to keep an eye on when Trapp returns is whether or not the team goes back to its diverse and dominating style or defaults to running Finlay down the wing and looking for Kamara.

If they want to climb the ladder they are going to have to do the former.

If you would like to go compare players for yourself head over HERE.

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