Audi Player Index Playoffs Analysis

Audi Player Index Playoffs Analysis: Stars shine bright for Canadian teams

Ignacio Piatti - Montreal Impact - Audi

All four teams participating in the Eastern Conference Semifinals featured high-profile players — the New York Red Bulls with Sacha Kljestan and Bradley Wright-Phillips, Toronto FC with the likes of Sebastian Giovinco, the Montreal Impact with Ignacio Piatti and New York City FC with David Villa. And each of these players’ individual performances mirrored the degree to which their team found success.

It was no secret that the top performers from this round of the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs included Piatti and Giovinco. Over the two legs, Piatti had a total of five chances created and averaged a score of 625 per the Audi Player Index.

Giovinco offered a similar level of excellence. The Atomic Ant consistently put pressure on NYCFC, drawing six fouls alone over the two games and was the top player on the Audi Player Index board in his first leg. But these dictated more than just how their opposition had to defend or how their teammates could find space and trust they would receive a pass. They each also put their stamp on the game in an arguably more consequential way— they got on the stat sheet at timely moments. Both Piatti and Giovinco scored multiple times and their first goals on Sunday essentially put their series out of reach of their opponents.

The Red Bulls' Wright-Phillips and Kljestan tallied a 703 and a 667 in the second leg of their series on the Audi Player Index, respectively. Kljestan connected a total of 117 passes in Montreal’s defensive half (and attempted 147) over the course of both games. Yet no matter how much of the play went through these two, they simply did not do enough where it ultimately mattered: the assist and goal columns of the box score. To be fair, Wright-Phillips did notch a goal. But for the MLS MVP finalists as well as league leaders in goals and assists to exit the series with only a goal between them (which took more than 165 minutes), it was simply too insignificant and too late of a contribution.

Villa landed himself at the bottom tier amidst these elite players. The Spaniard finished the regular season as the league’s second leading scorer and a potential difference maker any time he set foot on the field. Despite this praise, he did not make his presence felt at all against Toronto. His average Audi Player Index score was 341 over the two legs, after averaging 832 during the regular season (good enough for second overall in the entire league). No matter the reason behind his uninspired play, NYCFC needed their offensive star to be a greater force than he was— both in how he impacted the general flow of the game and in the box score.

The successful Canadian sides’ prominent players found ways to seamlessly integrate their influence over the run of play with the ability to directly affect their team’s chances of advancing by scoring goals. It will be interesting to see how other influential pieces like Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Matteo Mancosu may elevate their game when the Reds face off against the Impact on November 22 (8 pm ET; ESPN in US | TSN1,3 in Canada)