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Joevin Jones, by the Numbers

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Joevin Jones is a solid attacking fullback with modestly below-average defensive numbers.

I believe I can cross.
I believe I can cross.
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

In 2015, Joevin Jones was one of 47 players in Major League Soccer to accumulate at least 1000 minutes as a starter at a fullback/wingback position. That position alone isn't particularly descriptive; it includes everything from attacking specialists (New England's Chris Tierney is an extreme example) to stay-at-home defenders (for example, Montreal's Donny Toia). When I tell you Tierney created chances from open play 4 times more often than Toia, the comparison more meaningfully contrasts playing style than ability.

More Joevin Jones analysis

At Chicago, Jones didn't play very much like any Seattle fullback. He attempted open play crosses about 25% more often than Tyrone Mears and attempted on-the-ball dribbles past a defender at nearly twice Oniel Fisher's rate. Coming to Seattle, Jones' role may change a bit... but as we take a look at his 2015 performance, it's helpful to compare his statistics to players who attempted a similar balance between attack and defense, some of whom may be more familiar to SaH readers.

Player Distance to Jones Player Distance to Jones
Ambroise Oyongo 0.153 DaMarcus Beasley 0.382
Rafael Ramos 0.181 Jorge Villafana 0.383
Chris Duvall 0.315 RJ Allen 0.384
Connor Lade 0.338 Shaun Francis 0.400
Robbie Rogers 0.382 Raymon Gaddis 0.413

We've looked at similar distance metrics before with Lamar Neagle here and with Andreas Ivanschitz/Nelson Valdez here. Looking at all MLS fullbacks, I assembled six statistics that are primarily role-dependent (share of team passing; share of team defense; crossing rate; aerial duel rate; dribble rate; long/short pass ratio). I relativized each value to their maximum in the dataset (to give them fairly equal relevance) and then calculated the 6-dimensional Euclidean distance from each player to Joevin Jones' numbers.If the playing time restriction is eased down to 630 minutes, Jones' closest comparison is Orlando City's Brek Shea, by a hair over Oyongo. Looking at numbers determined by ability rather than role, the average performance of those 10 players above is a more meaningful comparison for Jones than his Sounder contemporaries or MLS as a whole.

JonesTable2

In the table above, chance creation and possession lost are given for every 100 open play touches. Possession taken (a successful tackle or interception) is calculated for every 90 minutes of playing time. Statistics have been color coded green for above-average performance, red for below average. The averages for the 10 players above is the "JonesNeighbors" line.

Jones is very modestly foul prone, but no more so than Tyrone Mears (and certainly less so than end-of-career Gonzalez). He takes possession from an opponent at a better rate than any 2015 Sounder other than Fisher on the strength of a good interception rate, speaking to his acceleration. He keeps possession fairly well by the standards of his position and role, and was fairly creative in generating chances for his team (though this measure says little about the quality of those shots at goal). Dribble success is included in Duel%, which slightly suppresses that number both for Jones and his nearest neighbors, but his other duel rates (tackle and aerial success) are also fairly poor.

Jones isn't a star (or at least, not yet). He's a good-but-not-great offensive fullback and a weak-but-not-awful defensive fullback, making him a reasonably solid starter for a team with good defensive cover across the backline. Converting a #15 pick in the SuperDraft to that sort of return is a very savvy move for the Sounders. Jones having lost his starting spot for Chicago likely kept the additional allocation money cost reasonably low. Readers should nevertheless probably temper expectations and hold off from "Best XI" language until Jones becomes either an elite creator or good defender on top of his present performance.

Raw statistics for this work were collected from whoscored.com.