End of Season Player Analysis



Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the season has come to a disappointing end, the Sounders’ front office must answer some serious questions about what can/should be done with the roster going forward.

Across the 43 games in all competitions this year, 26 different players started at least one game for the Sounders. In an attempt to gauge how important individual players were to the team this year, I looked into how the team did when individual players were in the starting 11 vs when they were not. And I at least found many of the results quite interesting.

A few MASSIVE disclaimers before sharing what I discovered.

  1. The sample sizes are small. I limited my analysis to players that started and not started in at least 5 games. This was an arbitrary number I picked based primarily on wanting to include one of the more polarizing players on this year’s roster.
  2. There is ALWAYS more context that could be added to stats like these. Strengths of opponents, if games were home or away, and what other players did/didn’t start are all contributing factors. They are just beyond my (very amateur) ability to analyze.

The Results

Below is a table showing the differences in PER GAME stats the team achieved when the given player was in the starting 11 vs when they were not, sorted by number of starts the analyzed players made across all competitions.

























Name


Points


Goals Scored


Goals Allowed


Games Started


Games Not Started


Sample Size


Rusnak


-0.158


-0.047


0.263


38


5


5


A. Roldan


1.314


1.230


-0.117


37


6


6


Frei


0.771


0.839


-0.021


35


8


8


Morris


0.257


0.379


0.286


35


8


8


Arreaga


0.596


0.425


-0.408


34


9


9


Nouhou


-0.485


0.003


0.435


34


9


9


Lodeiro


0.600


0.750


0.068


32


11


11


Gomez


0.238


0.081


-0.140


31


12


12


C. Roldan


0.267


-0.082


-0.218


30


13


13


Ruidiaz


0.368


0.826


0.220


20


23


20


Rowe


-0.139


-0.387


-0.113


18


25


18


Ragen


-0.333


-0.100


0.269


18


25


18


Montero


-0.037


-0.243


-0.255


15


28


15


Vargas


0.374


0.192


-0.554


13


30


13


Leyva


-0.629


-0.249


0.328


13


30


13


Paulo


0.317


0.382


0.024


12


31


12


Medranda


-0.313


-0.144


0.127


9


34


9


Atencio


-0.455


-0.425


0.127


9


34


9


Chu


-0.172


-0.425


-0.294


9


34


9


Cleveland


-0.750


-0.839


0.021


8


35


8


Cissoko


-1.194


-1.230


0.117


6


37


6


I know that is a lot of numbers on a screen so let me talk about each stat individually.

Points Per Game


























Rank


Name


Points


Sample Size


1


A. Roldan


1.314


6


2


Frei


0.771


8


3


Lodeiro


0.600


11


4


Arreaga


0.596


9


5


Vargas


0.374


13


6


Ruidiaz


0.368


20


7


Paulo


0.317


12


8


C. Roldan


0.267


13


9


Morris


0.257


8


10


Gomez


0.238


12


11


Montero


-0.037


15


12


Rowe


-0.139


18


13


Rusnak


-0.158


5


14


Chu


-0.172


9


15


Medranda


-0.313


9


16


Ragen


-0.333


18


17


Bruin


-0.361


11


18


Atencio


-0.455


9


19


Nouhou


-0.485


9


20


Leyva


-0.629


13


21


Cleveland


-0.750


8


22


Cissoko


-1.194


6


Two players particularly stand out for me here: Alex Roldan in a positive way, and Nouhou in a negative.

First the positive. Alex Roldan was evidently all but irreplaceable this year. The team averaged over 1.3 points per game more in the 37 games he started than in the six games where he didn’t. While six games is a small sample he still had nearly double the impact of any other player on the roster. To me this means one of two things (or more likely a combination of the two). 1. Alex is an extremely underrated player 2. The team has no other viable RB on the roster.

Now for the negative… The team averaged almost 0.5 points per game more when Nouhou DIDN’T start than when he did. I’ve been a Nouhou defender for a while, so this was super disappointing to see. We all know his reputation by now, a lockdown 1v1 defender with serious limitations going forward. But as you can see from the top table, and as I will further explain later, not even that was evidently true this year.

Goals Scored Per Game


























Rank


Name


Goals Scored


Sample Size


1


A. Roldan


1.230


6


2


Frei


0.839


8


3


Ruidiaz


0.826


20


4


Lodeiro


0.750


11


5


Arreaga


0.425


9


6


Paulo


0.382


12


7


Morris


0.379


8


8


Vargas


0.192


13


9


Gomez


0.081


12


10


Nouhou


0.003


9


11


Rusnak


-0.047


5


12


C. Roldan


-0.082


13


13


Ragen


-0.100


18


14


Medranda


-0.144


9


15


Montero


-0.243


15


16


Leyva


-0.249


13


17


Rowe


-0.387


18


18


Atencio


-0.425


9


19


Chu


-0.425


9


20


Bruin


-0.506


11


21


Cleveland


-0.839


8


22


Cissoko


-1.230


6


Looking at these stats I have two main takeaways (beyond the previously mentioned irreplaceability of Alex Roldan). The first being that despite their advancing age, Ruidiaz and Loderio are still what make the attack work. Across a decent sample size of games, the inclusion of longer tenured DP’s had the 3rd and 4th most impact on goals scored this season.

The same cannot be said however about the team’s newest DP, which is my second takeaway. Rusnak started all but 5 games this season but the team scored almost exactly the same number of goals per game in games he started as in game where he didn’t. To re-iterate, this is an extremely small sample size, but this isn’t what you want to see from a player who’s supposed primary role is to facilitate/initiate the attack (even if he was asked to do so from a deeper position for most of the year).

I also find it interesting how high Stephan Frei was on this list. One wouldn’t expect a goal keeper’s presence in the starting 11 to have such an impact on a team’s offensive performance. Though I expect it was due less to Frei himself and more because of the game plans in games where Frei didn’t start.

Goals Allowed Per Game


























Rank


Name


Goals Allowed


Sample Size


1


Vargas


-0.554


13


2


Arreaga


-0.408


9


3


Chu


-0.294


9


4


Montero


-0.255


15


5


C. Roldan


-0.218


13


6


Gomez


-0.140


12


7


A. Roldan


-0.117


6


8


Rowe


-0.113


18


9


Frei


-0.021


8


10


Cleveland


0.021


8


11


Paulo


0.024


12


12


Bruin


0.054


11


13


Lodeiro


0.068


11


14


Cissoko


0.117


6


15


Medranda


0.127


9


16


Atencio


0.127


9


17


Ruidiaz


0.220


20


18


Rusnak


0.263


5


19


Ragen


0.269


18


20


Morris


0.286


8


21


Leyva


0.328


13


22


Nouhou


0.435


9


Two players jump out to me on this chart. The one at the top and the one at the bottom.

Obed Vargas having the biggest positive impact on the team’s defensive performance is a huge compliment to the young Alaskan. I was surprised how much Schemtzer trusted the 16-year-old this season but this data really validates Schmetzer’s decision to do so.

Nouhou on the other hand… yikes. The team allowing almost half a goal per game more when he was in the starting 11 vs when we was not is pretty damning. Especially for a player that is supposed to be a defensive stalwart. I’m not going to lay all the Sounders’ defensive struggles this year on Nouhou, but I don’t see how a team can succeed when your defense first LB has the biggest negative effect on how many goals per game you allow.

Conclusion

So what should we make of all this? The hell if I know.

Like I said before, these numbers are based on small sample sizes without much deeper context. They should therefore be taken with more than a grain of salt; however, I do think they can be used as pieces in larger discussions. And that’s where you, the rest of the SAH community comes in. Armed with this information, where do you think the teams should go from here? Are there any players you now think are more or less important than before? Do you have any takeaways from the data that I didn’t mention? I would genuinely love to hear your thoughts.

FanPosts only represent the opinions of the poster, not of Sounder at Heart.



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