Julian Gressel - Atlanta United - celebrates a goal
Brett Davis-USA Today Sports Images

What Julian Gressel's acquisition means for DC United | Ben Baer

Julian Gressel has been an elite chance creator during his time in MLS. That is not up for debate.

When Atlanta United traded the German to D.C. United on Tuesday, they decided to move on from a player that has the fourth-most assists in MLS since 2017, 34 of which were first assists, the most in MLS during that timespan. Gressel entered the league that year after he was selected No. 8 overall in the SuperDraft.

It's no secret his assist total (35) was at least marginally boosted by the presence of Josef Martinez, with his stellar movement and finishing, but looking at the underlying numbers shows Josef should not be given total credit for Gressel's success.

Gressel's stats since 2017

Per 90 stats (min. 4500 minutes played)

Stat Figure League Rank
Chances Created from Open Play 141 7
Successful Open Play Crosses 60 4
Big Chances Created 43 T-1
Chances Created from Open Play per 90 minutes 1.65 15
Successful Open Play Crosses per 90 minutes .70 5

His total chances created numbers put him up there with the likes of Maxi Moralez, Nicolas Lodeiro and Diego Valeri. Atlanta fans should be happy to know Brooks Lennon, Gressel's likely replacement, is the only player with more successful open play crosses than him over the last three years.

One other stat that can tell us the influence of Gressel over the past two seasons is expected assists. Click on the link to get the full definition, but it's basically how much your passes contribute to creating goals. Those passes can happen anywhere on the field and could be multiple passes before a shot attempt, or they may not even lead to a shot attempt. 

It is unclear how D.C. will deploy Gressel, but it is obvious what he can do once he gets in the final third.

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