Opta, the leading stats agency for soccer in North America, released their MLS Best XI this morning with three Sounders included. Stefan Frei and Nicolas Lodeiro were obvious selections thanks to their standout seasons at their respective positions, but the inclusion of Nouhou may come at a surprise to some fans.
Opta’s data analysts pored over the data for each position to reach their conclusions, so none of their picks are without clear and obvious justification. Opta recognizes Frei as having one of the most impressive statistical seasons in league history, and we don’t need to recount the highway robbery that occurred when he didn’t win the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award.
While there were certainly more impressive seasons from other attacking midfielders in the league, Lodeiro’s inclusion in the XI is confirmation of just how good of a season he had. Creating 3.6 chances per 90 minutes is great, and ranks tied for eighth-most in the league since 2010. That stat truly underlines what type of player he is and how important he is to the Sounders.
Lastly, the inclusion of Nouhou may come as a surprise, but it highlights just how good Seattle’s defense was this season.
0.9 - The Sounders conceded 0.9 goals per 90 in the nearly 2,177 minutes that Nouhou Tolo was on the field this season. That number rose to 1.2 goals per 90 in the 1117+ minutes Tolo wasn’t on the field. Cog. #OptaXI pic.twitter.com/6c4L2RyvGc— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) December 4, 2018
Nouhou’s strength is obviously his defensive prowess, but this stat says more about Seattle’s other options at left back than anything else, especially with their early season struggles. Congrats to Nouhou, though. Choo choo.