What are expected goals? Learn what you need to know about the statistic

Orlando City SC have been the best team in MLS so far this season, collecting 15 points in six games for an average of 2.5 points per game. No other team is averaging more than 2.33.


Much of the credit will be given to the goalscoring of Cyle Larin, emergence of Carlos Rivas or the leadership of Will Johnson, but the performance of the defense has been the real star of the show.


Through Week 8, Jason Kreis' team has been one of the best defensively according to expected goals provided by Opta. They have conceded just 5.53 expected goals through six games, which is the lowest figure any team has conceded so far. That number means that on average, based on the quality of chances they have conceded, they would be expected to concede 5.53 goals. In actuality the team has conceded five goals, which could mean they have been a bit lucky or that Joe Bendik has been playing well in between the pipes (which is true).


It should be noted that the Lions have played just six games while 19 of the 22 teams have played either seven or eight. Going by expected goals against per game, they would sit third behind New York City FC and the San Jose Earthquakes.


These figures are all the more surprising considering that Orlando City were the worst defensive team in MLS in 2016. They conceded a league-high 60 goals and their expected goals figure wasn't much better at 61.41. If anything, they might have been a little lucky to only concede 60. Only one other team had an xG against number higher than 47 (Vancouver, 53.46).


Kreis' organization of his squad should be credited for this vast improvement, as well as the addition of Jonathan Spector and the strong play of Bendik.


Two important notes before looking at Week 8's xG numbers: Penalties have a value of .79, and own goals are not factored into the values.

Game
Result
Home xG
Away xG
New England Revolution vs. San Jose Earthquakes
0-0
.90
1.19
Toronto FC vs. Chicago Fire
3-1
1.03
.74
Philadelphia Union vs. Montreal Impact
3-3
3.05
1.16
Houston Dynamo vs. San Jose Earthquakes
2-0
1.93
.44
Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
2-1
1.16
2.02
New England Revolution vs. D.C. United
2-2
1.37
.74
New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew SC
2-0
3.16
.53
FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City
1-0
.79
.63
Real Salt Lake vs. Atlanta United FC
1-3
.44
2.38
New York City FC vs. Orlando City SC
1-2
.74
.94
LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders
0-3
.70
1.39
Minnesota United FC vs. Colorado Rapids
1-0
1.08
1.12
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