Central Winger: Who's the more lethal striker? Montreal's Marco Di Vaio or LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan?
Marco Di Vaio has attempted 105 shots so far this season. Landon Donovan has attempted about one-third of that. Di Vaio has been caught offside 72 times this season, accounting for five percent of the entire MLS total in 2013. Donovan has been caught offside four times in his 20 appearances this season.
If it isn't clear already, these two veterans are dramatically different types of players. And, more specifically, Donovan and Di Vaio are very different types of scorers.
Conversely, Donovan has always been more of an auxiliary threat – and with his career ledger of 134 MLS goals, he will soon be in sole possession of MLS' all-time leading scorer summit.
Here is a visual comparison of the shots taken by Donovan and Di Vaio this MLS season. Filled circles represent a goal that was scored and empty circles represent a missed shot.
A few things jump out here, first and foremost being the sheer difference in shooting volume between Donovan and Di Vaio this season. Granted, Di Vaio has appeared in 50 percent more games than Donovan in 2013 (30 vs. 20 matches), but he has also attempted three times as many shots.
A quick trigger like Di Vaio's is not a problem if he's being provided good scoring opportunities. But Di Vaio's shot selection has been less than optimal and this is ultimately what has stopped him from running away with this year's Golden Boot and challenging the MLS single-season scoring record.
The Italian has attempted 50 shots from outside the box, but only two of these long-range blasts have been converted into goals. On the other hand, Donovan has scored four times from outside the box on only 13 attempts – a truly remarkable (read: ridiculous) conversion rate.
Herein lies a hint to Donovan's true value to any team that has had the luxury of employing him. He is an amazingly potent finisher who doesn't require – to borrow a term from basketball analytics – a high usage rate. Donovan doesn't settle for low-efficiency situations, and finishes highly efficient chances in cold blood.
And, this all goes without mentioning that Donovan is quickly chasing down Steve Ralston's all-time MLS assist total as well.