First XI: Sinking our teeth into stats
This past week, I started pining for the old Peter Hirdt column. What was it called, Analyze Something? Man, talk about the one columnist on this site who had it going every single week. And then he disappeared ... poof. Well, I figured there's something I could do about it. I could e-mail Peter and see if he could help me put together a few lists of 11 for First XI. Not 11, mind you, though I wish I could've thought up 11 stat questions that burned deep inside of me, but a few. You'll see them sprinkled throughout this week's XI.
11. OK, straight out of the gate. I got to wondering who the biggest winners in MLS history are. I mean, you hear experts like Eric Wynalda saying "The guy's just a winner," often enough, right? Well, here are the 11 active MLS players who have played in the most wins: Robin Fraser, 121; Cobi Jones, 121; Jeff Agoos, 116; Steve Ralston, 115; Mark Chung, 114; Chris Henderson, 111; Jason Kreis, 111; Chris Armas, 105; Greg Vanney, 104; Jesse Marsch, 103; Steve Jolley, 100 ... near-misses: Preki, 99; Kevin Hartman, 98. Thanks, Elias.
10. What do goals leader Carlos Ruiz, shutouts leader Matt Reis and assists leader Brad Davis have in common? Correct, all have been traded at some point in their MLS career. Davis, in fact, has been swapped twice. I got to thinking about great MLS players who've been moved around the country when I watched Chris Henderson running around in Columbus on Saturday night. Maybe I know nothing about soccer, but it's amazing to me that he seemingly plays for a new team every two years. To my eye, he's a player. Same for Mark Chung.
9. Youri Djorkaeff (one of the five worst signings in MLS history, says The New York Times) picked the wrong week to score on a bomb. I mean, how many weeks is that goal not Goal of the Week? Gotta hand it to Carlos Ruiz, who gets a bike a year, though. Speaking of great goals that will get no attention, Eddie Gaven's goal was one of the best counterattack goals we'll see this season. His high-speed, left-footed finish of Abbe Ibrahim's backheel pass was first-class stuff.
8. Promise this will be it for Metro-related items, but Zach Wells' fingertip denial of Kyle Martino on a penalty Saturday night got me to thinking, "Which 11 MLS goalkeepers have been in net for the most non-converted penalties?" Peter Hirdt, if you will: Ranked by PKs missed vs. the keeper (PKs/goals/saves): Mike Ammann, 9 (26/17/4); Kevin Hartman, 9 (25/16/6); Tony Meola, 9 (34/25/5); Joe Cannon, 8 (28/20/8); Matt Jordan, 8 (20/12/6); Nick Rimando, 7 (25/18/5); Jeff Causey, 6 (15/9/4); Mark Dougherty, 6 (28/22/4); Jeff Cassar, 5 (9/4/5); Adin Brown, 4 (14/10/2); D.J. Countess, 4 (12/8/4); Mark Dodd, 4 (18/14/3); Ian Feuer, 4 (7/3/3); Tom Presthus, 4 (12/8/3); Jon Busch, 3 (17/14/3); Scott Garlick, 3 (24/21/2); Marcus Hahnemann, 3 (11/8/1); Tim Howard, 3 (10/7/3); David Kramer, 3 (17/14/3); Zach Thornton, 3 (22/19/2).
7. Well, MLS wanted to bring a different culture to the league with the addition of Chivas USA. And we already have a taste of it. Thomas Rongen, whose hiring was the most shocking development in the club's brief history ... not because Thomas is not a worthy coach, but because of all the noise about how C-USA was going to be the league's first Spanish-first team ... is history after 10 games. And now we get word that Chivas is hiring Hans Westerhof? How long before they just go by Ajax USA? For obvious reasons, my heart goes out to any coach in MLS who gets the sack because this is not an ordinary league for so many reasons. For one thing, the whole league (with the exception of Dallas, who is now the best in the West), has basically been .500 the last two years. And for another, all anyone seems to remember is the playoffs. Then there's the cap, etc. Anyway, Chivas has a long road ahead in MLS. Let's see if their fans have patience and take some time to read the league's guidelines, etc. It's a tough circuit to dominate, folks.
6. I've poked some fun at the Galaxy from time to time these past couple of years for their mission statement (upon the firing of Sigi Schmid) to play a more entertaining style of soccer. Well, certainly it helps when you can add Landon Donovan to your attack, but the Galaxy are also doing a nice job of attacking, as evidenced by their league-high average of 13.8 shots per game. So, Peter, which players, all-time, have taken the most shots per 90 minutes (minimum: 4,000 minutes): Ante Razov, 4.5; Stern John, 4.4; Damani Ralph, 3.8; Taylor Twellman, 3.5; Carlos Ruiz, 3.5; Preki, 3.5; Edson Buddle, 3.5; Rodrigo Faria, 3.5; Mauricio Ramos, 3.4; Eduardo Hurtado, 3.4; Diego Serna, 3.3 ... near-misses: Jeff Cunningham, 3.3; Clint Mathis, 3.3; John Spencer, 3.2; Dwayne De Rosario, 3.2. Raise your hand if you remember Mauricio Ramos. That guy averaged 3.4 per game and I'd bet 3.2 were from 35 yards and beyond.
5. The Revolution are also playing some entertaining soccer, obviously. And with entertainment come fouls, as they lead the league in fouls suffered with 16.6 per game. My man Peter is now going to tell us who, all-time, in MLS has suffered the most fouls per 90 minutes (minimum: 3,000 minutes): Jose Cancela, 4.1; DaMarcus Beasley, 3.9; Giuseppe Galderisi, 3.9; Andy Williams, 3.6; Roman Kosecki, 3.6; Jason Moore, 3.5; Davy Arnaud, 3.4; Kyle Martino, 3.3; Alejandro Moreno, 3.2; Diego Serna, 3.2; Brian Ching, 3.1 ... near-misses: Alberto Naveda, 2.9; Evans Wise, 2.9; Carlos Ruiz, 2.9; Tab Ramos, 2.9; Roberto Donadoni, 2.8; Eddie Gaven, 2.8. Always fun to type names like Alberto Naveda into the column.
4. File this one under not important, but I noticed just last week that the Revolution now wear adidas uniforms. If my memory is correct, they've now worn Reebok, Atletica, Umbro and adidas in their 10-year existence, and they're still waiting on a uniform that's not boring.
3. Barring injury, I expect Danny O'Rourke and Simo Valakari to wage an incredible battle all season long for the fouls lead. I really don't think Davy Arnaud can hang with those two for a full campaign. As the race moves along, perhaps Simo and Danny can dig up some video on these guys, the all-time leaders in fouls committed per 90 minutes (minimum: 3,000 minutes): Diego Serna, 2.8; Geoff Aunger, 2.7; Carlos Ruiz, 2.6; Alberto Naveda, 2.6; Cle Kooiman, 2.5; Matt McKeon, 2.5; Stephen Armstrong, 2.3; Kyle Beckerman, 2.3; Oscar Pareja, 2.3; Bryan Namoff, 2.3; Ben Olsen, 2.2 ... near-misses: Mamadou Diallo, 2.2; Ricardo Iribarren, 2.2; Ronnie O'Brien, 2.2; Richie Williams, 2.2. Honestly, if Iribarren could've gotten one more season in the league, he could've been number one.
2. The Revolution's home draw to the Rapids got me wondering if they are going to be able do the unthinkable in MLS and win more than half of their games. Who was the last team in MLS to do that? Not including shootout wins, of course ... That would be the MLS Cup-winning L.A. Galaxy of 2002, who won 16 out of 28. I bet a friend two weeks ago that the Revs would not win 17. The race is on.
1. Peter Vagenas, always one of my favorite MLS midfielders, is a darkhorse MVP candidate if he stays healthy. By Dark Horse MVP Candidate, it's my admission that he will not win the award, but my prediction that he, like Jim Rooney in 2001, will get votes.
Jeff Bradley is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Send your comments and complaints (200 words or less, please) to Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org and he promises to read (but not respond to) all of them. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author's, and not necessarily those of Major League Soccer or MLSnet.com.