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A Look at Sporting KC’s Attacking Stats for 2020

Expected Goals and Expected Assists tell us a lot about the chances that were had, taken and (sometimes) missed.

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Real Salt Lake Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 Sporting Kansas City season is over and has been for a few weeks now. With all the hustle and bustle of the offseason kicking off, it’s easy to quickly move on from the 2020 season. However, it’s worth looking back at who performed and who didn’t.

Soccer isn’t quite like the other big sports in the sense that there aren’t quite as many stats available to look back on. Major League Baseball (MLB) has more stats than you can shake a stick at. The NFL and NBA are climbing in the number of statistics they track. Many soccer stats are tracked by services like Opta, which are behind a paywall.

One growing repository of stats for soccer in America is American Soccer Analysis. It’s from them that we’ve pulled statistics like expected goals (xG), expected assists (xA) or previous pieces we’ve done on gameflow (g+).

Today we’ll look back to Sporting KC’s 2020 season with an emphasis on stats by player, including the aforementioned xG and xA plus raw stats like minutes, shots, goals, assists and key passes (for explanations on things like xG and xA, ASA have you covered).

Keep in mind these are regular season stats so the MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS is Back Tournament games (post the first three group stage games) are missing.

Takeaways

Oh the Minutes They’ll Play

Roberto Puncec led the team in minutes (not shocking since he started an incredible 13 consecutive games to wrap up the season). Johnny Russell is next followed by Khiry Shelton (of the field players — goalkeepers get left off but Tim Melia is up there too).

Shot Accuracy is Suspect

We already knew this, but some players miss the target a lot. You probably would have guessed Roger Espinoza but he’s near the top of the team in accuracy (42%) as he seemed to make a conscience effort to either pass more or stop blasting shots 40 yards over the bar.

When it comes to attacking players Gianluca Busio struggled with just 17 percent accuracy, which surprised me a bit. Busio is probably trying to curl too many into the top corner. He’s followed closely by Gerso Fernandes who didn’t shock me with his repeated jumping ninja kicks when a simple pass into the goal would suffice.

The team leader (when you leave out defenders who don’t shoot much or attackers who don’t play much), is Alan Pulido. 50 percent on target. Now if only his minutes were higher.

xG Stat Overachievers

Most of the team exceeded their xG stats with the largest margin going to Erik Hurtado by a mile. He was only expected to score 1.91 goals from the chances he took but he scored five. It’s not even close after that. The biggest underachiever is again Busio who scored just once (in the regular season) but should have scored 2.33. Most were on par or slightly above (at least the attackers).

Russell Leads All Over

Outside of taking the captain’s armband this year, Johnny Russell proved to be a leader in his actions on the field (and the stats back that up). He led the team in goals (three way tie with Kinda and Pulido), xG, key passes, xA and of course xG+xA. Where the team let him down is he only ended with 2 assists but with 30 key passes and an expected assists (xA) of 4.68, lots of players failed to finish the chances he created through his actions.

One mark that could be held against Johnny is he didn’t score when it mattered most. In the Minnesota United game he had two golden opportunities and missed them both. Additionally, he hasn’t scored since September 23rd against Orlando City, so that’s quite a drought to end the season. For what it’s worth, Pulido only started three games after that date, so that surely had an impact on Russell not being quite as open.

A Note on Assists

ASA and MLS don’t count assists in the same way. Notice Alan Pulido is only credited with four, instead of the five MLS credits him with. I’d guess ASA isn’t counting secondary assists or what are sometimes referred to as hockey assists.

2020 Sporting KC Attacking Stats

Player Min Shots SoT %oT G xG G-xG KeyP A xA A-xA xG+xA
Player Min Shots SoT %oT G xG G-xG KeyP A xA A-xA xG+xA
Johnny Russell 1656 50 17 34% 6 5.52 0.48 30 2 4.68 -2.68 10.21
Alan Pulido 1045 36 18 50% 6 5.26 0.74 12 4 1.40 2.60 6.67
Gadi Kinda 1486 35 11 31% 6 5.18 0.82 24 2 2.41 -0.41 7.59
Khiry Shelton 1594 29 14 48% 5 4.84 0.16 25 1 1.81 -0.81 6.65
Gerso 925 23 5 22% 3 2.71 0.29 11 3 2.39 0.61 5.10
Gianluca Busio 1408 36 6 17% 1 2.33 -1.33 16 3 1.70 1.30 4.03
Erik Hurtado 450 19 8 42% 5 1.91 3.09 2 0 0.08 -0.08 1.99
Roger Espinoza 1054 19 8 42% 2 1.68 0.32 7 1 0.51 0.49 2.19
Graham Zusi 1356 21 4 19% 1 0.86 0.14 15 1 1.22 -0.22 2.09
Daniel Salloi 199 6 3 50% 0 0.80 -0.80 2 0 0.10 -0.10 0.90
Felipe Hernandez 867 8 0 0% 0 0.73 -0.73 2 0 0.64 -0.64 1.37
Ilie Sanchez 1390 7 1 14% 0 0.71 -0.71 12 1 1.44 -0.44 2.16
Winston Reid 795 3 2 67% 1 0.58 0.42 1 0 0.02 -0.02 0.61
Jaylin Lindsey 1157 6 0 0% 0 0.36 -0.36 14 2 0.80 1.20 1.15
Andreu Fontas 292 1 1 100% 1 0.34 0.66 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.34
Roberto Puncec 1858 3 1 33% 0 0.19 -0.19 2 1 0.12 0.88 0.31
Luis Martins 861 6 3 50% 0 0.13 -0.13 12 1 1.34 -0.34 1.46
Cameron Duke 262 2 1 50% 0 0.11 -0.11 5 0 0.27 -0.27 0.39
Graham Smith 350 1 0 0% 0 0.09 -0.09 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.09
Matt Besler 900 1 0 0% 0 0.02 -0.02 1 0 0.01 -0.01 0.03
Amadou Dia 929 1 0 0% 0 0.01 -0.01 7 1 0.45 0.55 0.46