USA TODAY Sports
Who does El Torito combine with the most?
At my other blog home, The Shin Guardian, I wrote today about MLS departures David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Roger Espinoza, Kei Kamara, and Freddy Montero and their passes to and from teammates in 2012. Please check it out, but don't be disappointed that I didn't analyze Brek Shea or FC Dallas there. When I looked at the facts, Brek interacted with his teammates far less often than Beckham, Kamara, Montero, etc did with theirs. So much so that bringing him into the conversation would have felt silly.
However, I did want to find a Big D Soccer application of the FC Dallas Passing Matrix, which gives us a count of every 2012 FC Dallas pass and who initiated and received it. This resource was in the middle of Andrew Wiebe's statistical review of FC Dallas' 2012 season, which was released a couple months ago. Here's what FCD's matrix looks like when visualized, with minutes played driving the order of the players and the colors of the data points:
The field of numbers can be rather daunting until you break them down into a more specific context. Because everything revolves around David Ferreira on this team, his combinations with teammates are the most logical focus. Who did El Torito combine with often, and who may need to work harder to develop chemistry with the conductor of this squad?
Consider this both a spinoff of my Shin Guardian piece, and a sequel of sorts to my attempt last year at quantitative analysis of FC Dallas' MVP.
First, we have to adjust the data for the amount of time each player shared the field with Ferreira. This is easily done by comparing their game logs and subtracting from each players total minutes the amount of time they played without David on the pitch. Then some simple math filters passes to and from Ferreira down to per-90-minute figures.
I limited this analysis to those players still on the roster (plus Hartman as a keeper proxy), and that played at least 500 minutes last season. Passes from David (blue) read left to right, while passes to him (red) are the opposite. The width of each bar is driven by that player's minutes shared with Ferreria If you hover over any bar, a pop-up will tell you the exact figure:
Players are ordered roughly by their position on the field, though you can see that David is somewhat regularly involved with everyone that isn't parked on or behind the backline.
It is striking that he interacts with his countrymen most often. Jair Benitez got the ball from him most often, and Fabian found Ferreira the most. This is certainly something to watch if/when Michel takes Benitez' spot at left back. He and others will need to provide an outlet for El Toritio in Jair's stead.
Andrew Jacobsen's numbers here seem odd to me. Hartman, John, and Hedges played far from El Torito, but AJ was usually positioned quite close to him last year, and because of that you'd think that they'd have interacted more often.
There are a variety of factors that drove these numbers. Tactics, relative positioning to each other, chemistry,etc. Of course, the new formation will shake some of this up further. But as we well know, as Ferreira goes so goes FC Dallas. However they're arranged, it will be key for his teammates to make the ball available to him and themselves available to the club's #10.