Opta Spotlight: What do Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley bring to Toronto FC?

Opta Spotlight: Defoe and Bradley

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USA TODAY Sports

Toronto FC acquired both Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley on Monday to help turn around the franchise for 2014. It was a bloody big deal.

Just how big, though? Well, it's undeniable that Defoe has been one of the top goalscorers in Premier League history, and Bradley is perhaps the most important player on the US national team heading to Brazil. That's pretty big.

Digging into the stats can help us narrow it down a bit further, though, giving us an idea of who their MLS dopplegangers are, based upon style of play.

As outlined last week, Defoe is a player who likes to shoot. The question then becomes just how good he is. Over the course of the last three-and-a-half seasons Defoe has averaged a goal every 207 minutes, put over 52 percent of his shots on target and over 14 percent of them in the back of the net.

Comparing these numbers to players in MLS over the past three years yields some interesting results. The three players stats listed below are very similar to Defoe’s, including their chance creation abilities.

PLAYER MINUTES PER GOAL SHOOTING ACCURACY SHOT CONVERSION RATE MINUTES PER CHANCE CREATED
Jermain Defoe 207.3 52.7% 14.7% 74.6
Fredy Montero 195.2 48.4% 13.7% 65
Dominic Oduro 235.8 54.6% 16.9% 76.2
Camilo 169.8 53.2% 17.9% 67.6

Of course, Defoe put these numbers up in the Premier League, so we should expect to see some of these figures improve.

Since arriving in Italy two-and-half seasons ago, Bradley has been given the nickname “Il Generale” for his calm and composure on the ball. These attributes can be seen in some of the statistics put up with Chievo and Roma in Serie A.

Not surprisingly, Bradley's statistics compare similarly to some of the best holding midfielders in MLS.

PLAYER PASSING ACCURACY MINUTES PER INTERCEPTION MINUTES PER TACKLE MINUTES PER CHANCE CREATED
Michael Bradley 85.1% 47.1 31 65.8
Diego Chará 84.9% 48.8 25.1 79.3
Osvaldo Alonso 85.5% 32.1 18.6 125.1
Kyle Beckerman 84.8% 32.3 40.1 63.4

Again, Bradley compiled these statistics in Serie A, so we should expect a change in his numbers with his arrival in MLS.

Bradley and Beckerman's chance creation rates are similar to that of center midfielders who generally play further upfield, including Kelyn Rowe and Benny Feilhaber. Bradley's record in Serie A suggests a player who is capable of creating for his teammates at a high level, and his play with the USMNT confirms as much.

In Toronto, should we expect these numbers to become even better? Bradley will likely take most of the set pieces for the Reds, and should have more responsibilities going forward, but on a team that struggled to control possession last season, there is a decent bet his raw stats will decline.

What is a better than decent bet is that the additions of Defoe and Bradley significantly increase the talent level on a consistently poor Toronto FC team. And if their statistics are similar to – or even better than – what they produced in two of the best leagues in the world, then the Reds will have brought two MVP-caliber player into the fold.

Which is – yes – a bloody big deal.