Opta Spotlight: How good a goalscorer are Toronto FC getting in Jermain Defoe?

Opta Jermain Defoe

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Toronto FC officially have their man.

And When Jermain Defoe steps onto the field in March, he will be doing so with one clear objective: score goals.

He has been one of the most prolific goalscorers in Premier League history, scoring 123 goals in 379 career EPL games.

Once Defoe gets on the ball, he immediately looks towards goal, and this is reflected in the numbers he has produced over the years. Last season, for example, he shot the ball every seven times he touched the ball, a figure that led the Premier League in 2012-13.

PLAYER TEAM TOUCHES/TOTAL SHOTS (INC. BLOCKS)
Defoe Tottenham Hotspur 6.97
Cisse QPR 7.72
Ba Newcastle/Chelsea 8.06
Le Fondre Reading 8.33
Chicharito Manchester United 9.09

While the figure Defoe put up in 2012-13 is a career high, it is by no means an outlier. Defoe has averaged less than nine touches on the ball before taking a shot in each season since 2006-07 and has been either first or second in this statistic in each of the past four seasons. Last year in MLS, the league leader in touches per shot happened to be another Toronto FC player, Robert Earnshaw, who shot the ball every 8.81 touches.

Obviously this statistic doesn’t reflect the quality of Defoe’s play, as he could be missing open teammates in favor of a shot. What it does portray is that once Defoe gets on the ball, he is an immediate threat to get a shot off.

The numbers might suggest Defoe is single-minded in his efforts on the field, but a deeper investigation into his creation for teammates indicates he can not only uncork a shot but can set up opportunities for others. In the six seasons between 2003-04 and 2008-09, Defoe averaged a chance created every 122 minutes.

In the past five seasons (including the current one), he has averaged a chance created every 73 minutes. Toronto FC hope he can bring both sides of his game to Canada in hopes they can finally reach the playoffs.