So, in the build-up to doing the games, I like to look at the issues affecting the team and then do my research accordingly.
If you follow the team at all, you know that everything has been great in 2016 until Mid April. In the winter, the team was predicted to do great things and in some cases even win the MLS Cup. They were also predicted to have 2 MVP candidates between Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo.
Well, in Mid-April, they lost Matt Hedges their top center back for 6 weeks to an injury. That also coincided with a lengthy road trip where they lost three matches by a combined score of 8-0. 3-0 in Vancouver, 4-0 in New York, and 1-0 in Toronto (in a game that could have been 4-0).
So, the defense and the goal-keeping have been very poor at times and very inconsistent in others, but the most bothersome about the entire thing has been that the strike force has been scoreless since Michael Barrios scored back on April 17.
That was a drought that was sort of fixed on Wednesday in their 2-1 home win with Portland, but even on that day the offensive attack looked off and a bit listless.
The results are down, which may argue they are spending too much time fretting about the leaky defense, or it might just be a normal difficult stretch of a season against contenders away from Frisco.
But, in my watching of the last month to prepare for tonight, I see a lot boils down to taking your chances.
And, if we feel the offense lacks an ideal fearsome striker, then so much goes to whether those two MVP candidates (that ship has sailed, of course, but you get the idea) Castillo and Diaz must be putting the ball in the net.
And most of that comes back to whether or not Fabian is scoring at his normal rate. Which - spoiler alert - he is not:
Castillo in 2016
12 Matches, 11 Started
2 Goals – Opener Philadelphia, 4/13 At Portland
2 goals on 12 SOG – 17%
30 shots – 12 SOG – 40%
30 shots in 941 minutes – shot every 31.3 minutes
Castillo from 2014-2015
57 matches, 54 started
19 goals – 10 in 2014, 9 in 2015
19 Goals on 62 SOG – 31%
153 shots – 62 SOG – 41%
153 shots in 4841 minutes - shot every 31.6 minutes
I think the above numbers demonstrate that most of what Castillo doing is the same as it ever was. He is averaging about 3 shots per 90 minutes and about 40% of all of his shots are on frame. The issue is quite clearly that his shots on goal are not being cashed in at the normal rate. And if they were, the team might still be losing because of defensive issues, but everyone would feel better about the offensive attack.
And here are 3 examples where Castillo has what we would call "no-brainer" chances from this recent road trip that he did not cash in on. I realize that these are not all shots on goal, but they are goals at just about any point of his career - which are not going in right now.
First at Vancouver, he is all alone and while a chip is chosen, he would likely just slide this inside the far post when he is locked in.
Here, he elects to take the pass and cut back against the grain, bringing all the defenders back to him and into traffic. Odd decision, but the ball slides right to Mauro who misses a no-brainer himself.
Sometimes, we want to know why goals aren't being scored. Lack of chances is far more bothersome. When your best players are getting the same chances they always do (although not as many of them which is another more global issue that the team is dealing with), then I think we can reasonably say it is likely a matter of time before they start humming again.
Mauro looks like he is still feeding the goal scorer. Now, they need to put these away and they will start getting their results.
Anyway, just a rare, little soccer blog for you.