The MLS All-Stars beat German powerhouse Bayern Munich 2-1 last night at Providence Park Portland, Oregon.
The All-Star Game is traditionally a time when excellence is recognized and the league and its clubs take stock of where they stand, roughly halfway through the calendar. So we decided to take a statistical look back at the first five months of the MLS season.
Usain Bolt would have been proud of a start this quick. Will Bruin’s blistering volley against the New England Revolution on March 9 came after just 63 seconds, making it the second-fastest strike in franchise history (until Giles Barnes scored the fastest three months later, 40 seconds into the Independence Day match vs. New York Red Bulls).
What’s more, it came in the first MLS match of the season, Bruin scored again after only 13 minutes and it was 3-0 midway through the first half courtesy of Boniek García. Houston ran out 4-0 winners. It was the biggest opening-day victory margin in club history, and a sellout crowd of 22,320 was there to savor it.
Brad Davis leads the league in assists from set play situations, with four. And he has made only 12 Dynamo appearances so far this year, missing nine games through injury or international duty.
Between March 29 and July 12, the captain contributed at least a goal or an assist in eight successive appearances. As Matt Pedersen wrote in this blog post, it was one of the longest such streaks in MLS history—and replicated back in 2005-06 by Dynamo legend Brian Ching.
It’s exceptionally rare that a referee shows David Horst a card, which is remarkable considering the 6-foot-4 28-year-old’s position—center back—and his physical style. The man nicknamed “Wreck-It Ralph” in fact has an uncanny ability to stay out of trouble.
The former Portland Timbers defender has accumulated 4,801 MLS minutes since 2008 and has picked up only two yellow cards and one red, which came against FC Dallas in April. That’s a rate of a card every 1,600 minutes. And it’s not like he isn’t at the heart of the action. Horst’s 14 blocks so far this campaign puts him joint-sixth in MLS.
Only three players have taken more shots in MLS this year than Giles Barnes, who’s tried 71, 17 of which have been blocked He’s on target to surpass last season’s tally of 94. Barnes won the Dynamo’s golden boot last year with nine regular-season goals. So far in 2014 he has scored five times, and his four assists already ties last year’s total.
Though Barnes is known as a player who likes to shoot from distance—two of the three Dynamo goals scored from outside the box this term have come from his feet—he’s put 22 shots on target. That’s the same number as San Jose Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski, who is famed as a precise close-range finisher.
Barnes’ first goal of the year, in the 4-1 win over Chivas USA, was arguably his most spectacular of the season so far.
ACROSS THE LEAGUE
The Dynamo are on the road against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday (9:30 p.m. CT; ESPN2). Seattle reserve goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, who has appeared for the team this year in the U.S. Open Cup, is the oldest player in MLS by four years, ahead of Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio. The 42-year-old was born in June, 1972.
Two players who have seen MLS minutes this year were born after the league’s inaugural game in April, 1996, when Hahnemann was almost 24 years old: Erik Palmer-Brown of Sporting Kansas City and Bradford Jamieson IV of the Los Angeles Galaxy.
New York Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips, who scored yesterday for the All-Stars, has 18 goals in 21 games and is scoring at a rate of 0.97 goals per 90 minutes, which is even better than the 0.86 rate of Chris Wondolowski with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2012 when he tied the MLS season record with 27 goals.
The Timbers have hit the woodwork 13 times; Chivas USA only twice.
The Colorado Rapids and Vancouver Whitecaps have each been awarded eight penalties; the Montreal Impact, only one.
A player running up to strike a free kick at the net is one of the most exciting moments in soccer. But the shot rarely comes off. Only 5.5% of free kick attempts have resulted in a goal, according to Opta statistics. Ten of the league’s 19 teams have not scored from a direct free kick so far this year.
Statistics courtesy of Opta
Tom Dart is a contributing writer to HoustonDynamo.com and HoustonDashSoccer.com. Former editor and reporter for The Times of London and reporter for SI.com, Dart currently freelances for The Guardian.