FanPost

End of Season Player Analysis

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the season has come to a disappointing end, the Sounders' front office must answer some serious questions about what can/should be done with the roster going forward.

Across the 43 games in all competitions this year, 26 different players started at least one game for the Sounders. In an attempt to gauge how important individual players were to the team this year, I looked into how the team did when individual players were in the starting 11 vs when they were not. And I at least found many of the results quite interesting.

A few MASSIVE disclaimers before sharing what I discovered.

  1. The sample sizes are small. I limited my analysis to players that started and not started in at least 5 games. This was an arbitrary number I picked based primarily on wanting to include one of the more polarizing players on this year’s roster.
  2. There is ALWAYS more context that could be added to stats like these. Strengths of opponents, if games were home or away, and what other players did/didn’t start are all contributing factors. They are just beyond my (very amateur) ability to analyze.

The Results

Below is a table showing the differences in PER GAME stats the team achieved when the given player was in the starting 11 vs when they were not, sorted by number of starts the analyzed players made across all competitions.

Name

Points

Goals Scored

Goals Allowed

Games Started

Games Not Started

Sample Size

Rusnak

-0.158

-0.047

0.263

38

5

5

A. Roldan

1.314

1.230

-0.117

37

6

6

Frei

0.771

0.839

-0.021

35

8

8

Morris

0.257

0.379

0.286

35

8

8

Arreaga

0.596

0.425

-0.408

34

9

9

Nouhou

-0.485

0.003

0.435

34

9

9

Lodeiro

0.600

0.750

0.068

32

11

11

Gomez

0.238

0.081

-0.140

31

12

12

C. Roldan

0.267

-0.082

-0.218

30

13

13

Ruidiaz

0.368

0.826

0.220

20

23

20

Rowe

-0.139

-0.387

-0.113

18

25

18

Ragen

-0.333

-0.100

0.269

18

25

18

Montero

-0.037

-0.243

-0.255

15

28

15

Vargas

0.374

0.192

-0.554

13

30

13

Leyva

-0.629

-0.249

0.328

13

30

13

Paulo

0.317

0.382

0.024

12

31

12

Medranda

-0.313

-0.144

0.127

9

34

9

Bruin

-0.361

-0.506

0.054

11

32

11

Atencio

-0.455

-0.425

0.127

9

34

9

Chu

-0.172

-0.425

-0.294

9

34

9

Cleveland

-0.750

-0.839

0.021

8

35

8

Cissoko

-1.194

-1.230

0.117

6

37

6

I know that is a lot of numbers on a screen so let me talk about each stat individually.

Points Per Game

Rank

Name

Points

Sample Size

1

A. Roldan

1.314

6

2

Frei

0.771

8

3

Lodeiro

0.600

11

4

Arreaga

0.596

9

5

Vargas

0.374

13

6

Ruidiaz

0.368

20

7

Paulo

0.317

12

8

C. Roldan

0.267

13

9

Morris

0.257

8

10

Gomez

0.238

12

11

Montero

-0.037

15

12

Rowe

-0.139

18

13

Rusnak

-0.158

5

14

Chu

-0.172

9

15

Medranda

-0.313

9

16

Ragen

-0.333

18

17

Bruin

-0.361

11

18

Atencio

-0.455

9

19

Nouhou

-0.485

9

20

Leyva

-0.629

13

21

Cleveland

-0.750

8

22

Cissoko

-1.194

6

Two players particularly stand out for me here: Alex Roldan in a positive way, and Nouhou in a negative.

First the positive. Alex Roldan was evidently all but irreplaceable this year. The team averaged over 1.3 points per game more in the 37 games he started than in the six games where he didn’t. While six games is a small sample he still had nearly double the impact of any other player on the roster. To me this means one of two things (or more likely a combination of the two). 1. Alex is an extremely underrated player 2. The team has no other viable RB on the roster.

Now for the negative… The team averaged almost 0.5 points per game more when Nouhou DIDN’T start than when he did. I’ve been a Nouhou defender for a while, so this was super disappointing to see. We all know his reputation by now, a lockdown 1v1 defender with serious limitations going forward. But as you can see from the top table, and as I will further explain later, not even that was evidently true this year.

Goals Scored Per Game

Rank

Name

Goals Scored

Sample Size

1

A. Roldan

1.230

6

2

Frei

0.839

8

3

Ruidiaz

0.826

20

4

Lodeiro

0.750

11

5

Arreaga

0.425

9

6

Paulo

0.382

12

7

Morris

0.379

8

8

Vargas

0.192

13

9

Gomez

0.081

12

10

Nouhou

0.003

9

11

Rusnak

-0.047

5

12

C. Roldan

-0.082

13

13

Ragen

-0.100

18

14

Medranda

-0.144

9

15

Montero

-0.243

15

16

Leyva

-0.249

13

17

Rowe

-0.387

18

18

Atencio

-0.425

9

19

Chu

-0.425

9

20

Bruin

-0.506

11

21

Cleveland

-0.839

8

22

Cissoko

-1.230

6

Looking at these stats I have two main takeaways (beyond the previously mentioned irreplaceability of Alex Roldan). The first being that despite their advancing age, Ruidiaz and Loderio are still what make the attack work. Across a decent sample size of games, the inclusion of longer tenured DP’s had the 3rd and 4th most impact on goals scored this season.

The same cannot be said however about the team’s newest DP, which is my second takeaway. Rusnak started all but 5 games this season but the team scored almost exactly the same number of goals per game in games he started as in game where he didn’t. To re-iterate, this is an extremely small sample size, but this isn’t what you want to see from a player who’s supposed primary role is to facilitate/initiate the attack (even if he was asked to do so from a deeper position for most of the year).

I also find it interesting how high Stephan Frei was on this list. One wouldn’t expect a goal keeper’s presence in the starting 11 to have such an impact on a team’s offensive performance. Though I expect it was due less to Frei himself and more because of the game plans in games where Frei didn’t start.

Goals Allowed Per Game

Rank

Name

Goals Allowed

Sample Size

1

Vargas

-0.554

13

2

Arreaga

-0.408

9

3

Chu

-0.294

9

4

Montero

-0.255

15

5

C. Roldan

-0.218

13

6

Gomez

-0.140

12

7

A. Roldan

-0.117

6

8

Rowe

-0.113

18

9

Frei

-0.021

8

10

Cleveland

0.021

8

11

Paulo

0.024

12

12

Bruin

0.054

11

13

Lodeiro

0.068

11

14

Cissoko

0.117

6

15

Medranda

0.127

9

16

Atencio

0.127

9

17

Ruidiaz

0.220

20

18

Rusnak

0.263

5

19

Ragen

0.269

18

20

Morris

0.286

8

21

Leyva

0.328

13

22

Nouhou

0.435

9

Two players jump out to me on this chart. The one at the top and the one at the bottom.

Obed Vargas having the biggest positive impact on the team’s defensive performance is a huge compliment to the young Alaskan. I was surprised how much Schemtzer trusted the 16-year-old this season but this data really validates Schmetzer’s decision to do so.

Nouhou on the other hand… yikes. The team allowing almost half a goal per game more when he was in the starting 11 vs when we was not is pretty damning. Especially for a player that is supposed to be a defensive stalwart. I’m not going to lay all the Sounders’ defensive struggles this year on Nouhou, but I don’t see how a team can succeed when your defense first LB has the biggest negative effect on how many goals per game you allow.

Conclusion

So what should we make of all this? The hell if I know.

Like I said before, these numbers are based on small sample sizes without much deeper context. They should therefore be taken with more than a grain of salt; however, I do think they can be used as pieces in larger discussions. And that’s where you, the rest of the SAH community comes in. Armed with this information, where do you think the teams should go from here? Are there any players you now think are more or less important than before? Do you have any takeaways from the data that I didn’t mention? I would genuinely love to hear your thoughts.

FanPosts only represent the opinions of the poster, not of Sounder at Heart.