Lloyd Sam is a member of D.C. United.


That may be a shock to hear for some New York Red Bulls and United fans, but that became true on Thursday when New York traded Sam to their Atlantic Cup rivals for General Allocation Money.


Sam comes into a D.C. squad that seems to already have options at the position he plays almost exclusively, right wing.


Lamar Neagle has performed adequately this season after arriving from the Seattle Sounders, scoring three goals and collecting four assists in 17 starts. Patrick Nyarko started 11 of the first 12 games this season, scoring three goals and assisting on one more before going down with a concussion.


These three players have many similarities, but also differ in some very important ways.


PRODUCTION


Many people have pointed to Sam’s lack of production, especially in front of goal, as the reason he was dealt. That is a fair criticism, as his .43 non-penalty goals plus assists per 90 minutes this season is down from his 2015 season, in which he contributed .67 non-penalty goals plus assists per 90 minutes. But his production this season is slightly up (.43-.41) compared to his 2014 season, in which he played over 2,800 minutes.


When comparing his figure this season against that of Neagle’s and Nyarko’s, there’s really no separating the three.

What new dimension can Lloyd Sam bring to DC United's attack? - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/SamNeagleNyarko.jpg

There’s also very little separating the three in terms of the numbers that directly contribute to production, shots and chances created.

Player
Shots Per 90
Chances Created Per 90
Sam
1.62
1.79
Neagle
2.03
1.21
Nyarko
1.42
1.53

Sam has been better in his chance creation figures this season, which also align with his numbers from previous seasons, while Neagle has taken more shots than his counterparts.


PASSING


Jesse Marsch’s system in New York calls for his players to high-press their opponents into submission, so that they are able to win the ball back in dangerous positions and immediately have a chance at scoring. This kind of system doesn’t always correlate with the team having a high percentage of possession, but with the Red Bulls it has been.


After leading the league in possession percentage last season, New York currently sit in fourth in that category this season, controlling 54.16 percent in 2016.


D.C. United do not value the ball in the same way. They currently sit second to last in MLS in terms of possession, controlling just 46.89 percent of it.


This is all a preamble to the passing accuracy Sam, Neagle and Nyarko have displayed so far this season.

Player
Passes Per 90
Passing Accuracy
Passes in Final Third Per 90
Passing Accuracy in Final Third
Sam
41.41
80%
19.47
71.05%
Neagle
31.61
70.28%
13.33
65.71%
Nyarko
32.33
68.92%
16.71
62.09%

As you can see, Sam has been on the ball more than the other two and has completed his passes at a much higher rate. Is this a product of the Red Bulls’ system or an indicator that Sam is more adept at holding onto the ball? We’ll see if he can keep up those high passing numbers in Black and Red.


WIDE PLAY


The eyeball test shows that Sam and Nyarko are very similar players on the wing. Both like to attack defenders 1v1 and pump in crosses. Neagle is a bit of a different breed as he tends to want to cut in more and be goal-dangerous. When looking at each player's crossing and dribbling numbers, not all of this holds up, however.

Player
Crosses from Open Play Per 90
Crossing Accuracy
Dribbles Attempted Per 90
Dribble Completion %
Sam
5.29
25.81%
2.22
50%
Neagle
1.33
19.05%
2.28
22.22%
Nyarko
1.42
30.77%
5.68
40.38%

So while Nyarko is the clear leader in dribbles, Sam outpaces both in terms of his propensity to send in crosses. In fact, Sam’s 5.29 crosses from open play per 90 minutes far outpace any player on D.C. United. Fabian Espindola currently leads the team in this statistic, sending in 3.48 crosses from open play per 90 minutes this season.


This new threat could help diversify a D.C. attack that has scored the second-fewest goals in the Eastern Conference.


As Ben Olsen’s team looks to secure their spot in the playoffs, there is a little doubt that Sam can add something to a team that could use a spark.