Armchair Analyst: Matt Doyle

Thoughts & Numbers: What I'm watching for in Matchday 36

Thoughts and Numbers - 10.3.23

It’s the final full Wednesday slate of the year.

As always, all the data below is per TruMedia via StatsPerform unless otherwise noted. Let’s dive in:

Charlotte FC vs. Toronto FC

Charlotte have dropped 23 points from leading positions this year, which is the worst in MLS. Toronto are fifth in that stat, with 19 points dropped.

FC Cincinnati vs. New York Red Bulls

Luciano Acosta created 10 chances in Cincy’s Supporters’ Shield-clinching 3-2 win at Toronto this weekend, which is the most in a single game in Cincy’s history. He’s reportedly carrying a bit of a knock, so don’t be surprised if he’s rested for this game – at least for part of it, anyway.

Chance creation isn’t RBNY’s problem, but finishing sure is. Yes, they put the ball into the back of the net five times in their previous road game at D.C. United, but they had only nine goals in their prior 17 away matches (all comps) this year before that one, and then followed up their offensive explosion by getting shut out at home by the Fire.

CF Montréal vs. Houston Dynamo FC

Here’s a fun one: the Dynamo are 8W-3L-1D on Wednesdays this year across all competitions. That obviously includes last Wednesday’s US Open Cup final win in Fort Lauderdale.

Montréal are trying to make some dubious history: Only one team in the past 20 years of MLS has made the postseason with a goal differential of -18 or worse (the 2017 Quakes got there on -21).

Montréal’s goal differential is currently -18. They have three games to go. They are still ninth in the Eastern Conference, narrowly above the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs line.

New England Revolution vs. Columbus Crew

The Revs are the last remaining team unbeaten at home, and if they win this game in hand, they’ll go up to second in the East. Of course, the past six meetings between these two teams have all been draws, so…

Here’s something a bit more fun: Cucho Hernández’s got 37 goal contributions (23 goals/14 assists) through his first 40 games regular-season games with Columbus. The only players to better that in the past decade are one-namers in Zlatan, Giovinco, Vela and Josef.

So I’m just gonna call him Cucho from now on, because that’s the company he’s keeping.

Philadelphia Union vs. Atlanta United

Four Atlanta players have at least five goal contributions since August 27:

  • Thiago Almada (7)
  • Saba Lobjanidze (6)
  • Giorgios Giakoumakis (5)
  • Xande Silva (5)

They have become the most explosive team in the league in recent weeks, and have just one loss since Leagues Cup ended.

Philly also have just one loss since the Leagues Cup ended, though they’re pretty clearly worn down and far from explosive at the moment. Right now they’re on a run of five straight draws.

The league record is six, last set by the Fire back in 2014.

Austin FC vs. D.C. United

Austin are winless in 10 across all competitions, dating back to before Leagues Cup. D.C. haven’t been much better than that, with one win in their past 10 (all competitions).

This is despite Christian Benteke being on an absolute heater with six goals in September. He became the first D.C. player since Luciano Emilio in 2008 to score six in a single month.

Chicago Fire FC vs. Inter Miami CF

A win over this Messi-less and fatigued Miami side would get the Fire to the 40-point mark for just the third time in the past 10 seasons, which is as bleak a stat as I have ever seen with this club.

Miami shouldn’t be pushovers even without Messi (availability TBD as of writing), but they’ve collected six points from the two road games he’s played in the regular season. In 13 road games without him, they’ve managed just five.

FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids

Injuries have killed Dallas this year. They’re just 2W-6L-2D and – obviously – have a negative goal differential when Paxton Pomykal’s off the pitch. When he’s on the field they have a positive goal differential and are much harder to beat, at 8W-4L-9D.

The Rapids have become hard to beat lately themselves, and are now 2W-2L-1D in their past five games since installing interim head coach Chris Little for Robin Fraser. Cole Bassett has 3g/1a in that time; he had just 2g/0a prior to the coaching change.

Nashville SC vs. Orlando City SC

Hany Mukhtar has owned the Lions, posting six goals and five assists in eight career MLS matches against Orlando City (regular season & playoffs). Only Sebastian Giovinco (8g/7a) has more goal contributions against Orlando in MLS play.

The Lions – who are tied with Cincy for most road points this season with 25 – haven’t officially beaten Nashville since August 2020 in the teams’ first-ever meeting.

LAFC vs. Minnesota United FC

Both of these teams are limping badly. LAFC have one win in their past seven league matches, and have been shut out in four straight across all competitions.

Minnesota, meanwhile, haven’t won in six and are down to 11th place in the West with three games left in their season.

Seattle Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy

Raúl Ruidíaz has scored nine goals in his 10 regular-season games against the Galaxy, tied for his most against a single MLS team in the regular season (Timbers fans knew, before this parenthetical, exactly who he was tied with). So if you’re a Sounders fan, this doesn’t look great:

The Galaxy, believe it or not, have just two losses in the league since the end of May. They’ve also played in two straight 3-3 draws, with a 4-3 win over Minnesota coming before that pair. That makes them the first team in MLS history to play in three straight games in which both teams scored at least three goals.

This could be just what a struggling Sounders attack ordered, to be honest.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. St. Louis CITY SC

St. Louis remain the most relentless vertical team in the league, progressing the ball at 1.83 meters per second. They win the ball and they run.

Vancouver are decisive in a different way. They will take their time building from the back and midfield, but when they get into the final third they look to immediately create: 21% of their final-third touches are either a non-cross pass into the box or a pass originating from inside the box itself, and 20% are crosses.

Thus they average 26 box touches per game, which is third most in the league, and lead the league in expected assists.