Dissecting the curious case of LA's Gyasi Zardes | Expected Goals

LA Galaxy attacker Gyasi Zardes has to be one of the most polarizing players in MLS history.

The Hawthorne, California native announced his presence to the American soccer world by proclaiming: "My skill is going to blow your mind." After a promising rookie season in LA, Zardes started to show what he was talking about in 2014 when he scored 16 goals.

That season he mostly played as a striker next to Robbie Keane, and since then he's moved between the winger and striker positions to middling effect. He had just 12 goals in 2015 and 2016, to go along with nine assists, despite becoming a regular with the US national team under Jurgen Klinsmann. This season has been one of major disappointment for the 25-year-old as he has yet to score, even seeing a goal called back on Sunday against the Portland Timbers after Video Review showed he handled the ball before putting it into the back of the net.

When digging into the stats, there are few things to note. First would be that Zardes' propensity to shoot has dropped precipitously over the years.

Going into his expected goals numbers (non-penalty) provided by Opta also show you what an outlier Zardes' 2014 season actually was.

Season Goals xG xG per 90 xG/Shot
2013 4 6.07 .25 .08
2014 16 9.42 .35 .13
2015 6 4.84 .18 .11
2016 6 4.04 .23 .17
2017 0 1.18 .09 .07

While Zardes overperformed based on his expected goals numbers in 2015 and 2016, it is clear that his 2014 season was an outlier. On average, based on the quality of his chances, Zardes would have been expected to score 9.42 goals that year. He ended up with 16. His xG per 90 minute numbers have also seen a drop-off since then, not only because of his decreased shot total, but because of the quality of his shots. This season marks a dip to career-low numbers after an uptick last season.

Sigi Schmid has played Zardes both at striker and on the wing so far, but either way, he will be looking for his No. 11 to show something hasn't in three years.

Two important notes before looking at Week 22's xG numbers: Penalties have a value of .79, and own goals are not factored into the values.

Game Result Home xG Away xG
D.C. United vs. Toronto FC 1-1 .25 1.08
Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas 3-1 2.06 2.92
Montreal Impact vs. Orlando City SC 2-1 1.59 .71
Minnesota United FC vs. Seattle Sounders 0-4 1.29 3.00
Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution 4-1 .66 .61
Real Salt Lake vs. Houston Dynamo 0-0 1.72 .74
Colorado Rapids vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-2 1.55 1.62
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Columbus Crew SC 2-1 2.52 1.00
Portland Timbers vs. LA Galaxy 3-1 1.49 1.19
New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls 3-2 2.67 1.08
Sporting Kansas City vs. Atlanta United 1-1 1.53 .81
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