Thanks to Major League Soccer’s new game-day statistics partner Opta, there is a lot more data to be had about MLS games in 2011. Here are a few quick observations from Friday night’s Houston-Seattle match:
Some of the top-line stats are exactly what you would expect. Seattle outshot the Dynamo by a convincing 26-6 margin and, facing that kind of firepower, Houston recorded six blocked shots. Seattle had the edge in corners (12-1) and open play crosses (21-7).
The Sounders’ dominance in possession, however, was not as significant as it was in chances. Seattle won 53 duels to Houston’s 48, completed 340 passes to the Dynamo’s 325, and only had 53 percent of the possession. Remember that the Dynamo had 70 percent of possession against Philadelphia last week.
Looking at individual numbers, a few things stand out. Seattle’s Erik Friberg, who started on the right, sent in 19 total crosses that included nine from the run of play, but only one was classified as “good.” On the other side, Kofi Sarkodie and Corey Ashe held Steve Zakuani to five crosses, but three of his were “good.”
On the Houston side, offensive statistics were few and far between. Geoff Cameron’s deft outside-of-the-right-foot pass to Brian Ching in the final minutes was the Dynamo’s only “good” cross of the game.
Defensively, Andre Hainault appeared to have a strong night in a rare start at center back for the Dynamo, and the numbers seem to bear that out. Hainault had a team-high 19 clearances, many with his head, and won three of his four aerial duels. Defensive partner Bobby Boswell and midfielder Lovel Palmer also did plenty of dirty work, combining for 13 interceptions. With all the goal kicks for the Dynamo, Brad Davis was unusually active in the air, winning three of five aerial duels.
Interestingly, the player with the most touches for each team was its left back: Houston’s Hunter Freeman found himself on the ball 85 times over the course of the match, while Seattle’s Leo Gonzalez had the top number on the other side with 73 touches.
In terms of duels, the two most common matchups appear to be Osvaldo Alonso against Cameron and Jeff Parke against Will Bruin. Alonso and Cameron also matched up with other players, but Alonso won 10 of 14 total duels, compared with Cameron’s 10 of 18. Parke won eight of 12, compared with Bruin’s six of 16. Bruin, though, was fouled a game-high four times.
A breakdown of passing indicates Seattle’s control; the Dynamo passed the ball back to Tally Hall 14 times, including 10 from the outside backs, while Seattle went back to Kasey Keller just three times. One active passing partnership consisted of left-siders Gonzalez and Zakuani for Seattle (21 passes to each other), while Palmer made eight passes to right back Sarkodie, most on the Houston side.
For more game-day numbers, follow Opta’s MLS coverage online via Twitter by following @OptaJack.
One non-Opta stat: For all their struggles at home, the Dynamo are now unbeaten in their last four road games (2-0-2) since falling 4-3 at Kansas City last September 22. Houston had been 0-8-1 in its previous nine road games.