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Raúl Ruidíaz is one of the most efficient strikers in MLS

The Sounders forward scores more goals per touch, and tallies more shots per touch than almost anyone else in the league.

Max Aquino/Sounder at Heart

Hello again Sounders!

Another week come and gone, and another convincing Sounders win. This season is off to a pleasant start. While the team played a great all-around game, and Kelvin Leerdam scored again (!), I’m here today to praise Raúl Ruidíaz.

Since the Peruvian joined the Sounders, he’s been mesmerizing to watch. He’s always moving, always thinking, and always adding value to the Sounders’ attack. The man has scored 15 goals in his first 18 games including playoffs for crying out loud! That’s excellent.

Remarkably though, he doesn’t get the ball very much. You’ve probably noticed it. He spends most his time making runs without the ball, and when he does get the ball, it’s off his foot in moments. The numbers show it clearly. Among the 438 players with at least 200 minutes played since the start of last season, Ruidíaz ranks 430th in terms of touches per 90 minutes. Ruidíaz touches the ball an average of 32 times per 90 minutes played.

He still finds` a way to take a lot of shots and score a lot of goals. In fact, per touch, he’s outstanding:

This graph shows two of the many metrics of striker efficiency: the x-axis is shots per touch, the y-axis is goals per touch. Every dot is a player’s performance since 2018. Players in the upper-right are more efficient; they do more with less.

And that red point is Raúl Ruidíaz. He fires off 0.11 shots per touch and 0.026 goals per touch. To put it the other way around, he needs an average of about nine touches (not necessarily consecutive) before he gets a shot. Ruidíaz scores a goal every 38 touches. As you can see in the graph above, he’s in rare company in MLS.

Let’s zoom in on the top-right corner:

Here you can see the upper echelon more clearly. These are the guys who score a lot of goals and take a lot of shots with the few touches they’re given. And among them, there are only two players (Dom Dwyer and Sebastian Giovinco, who is no longer with TFC) with more efficient shots per touch, and only two players with more goals per touch (Josef Martinez and Adama Diomande). The other prolific goal scorers in the league need more access to the ball in order to score their goals.

The stats speak for themselves. There are only a couple of things left to say about them. The obvious one is just the praise that I’ve been heaping on the man already: there are simply few people on MLS who are more efficient with their time on the ball than Raúl Ruidíaz. He’s just super good. The other is kind of a call to action for the team though: get this guy the ball! He’ll probably score a goal.

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