As Chad mentioned, there’s a delightful rumor floating around that Sporting Kansas City is looking to replace injured Designated Player Alan Pulido with his fellow national team striker, José Juan Macias. As many of you already know, the LigaMX season is split into two tournaments. The Apertura is played over the summer and the Clausura is played in the winter. As such, the way statistics get reported are a bit different than they are for MLS and many of the European leagues. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll be using the statistics as cited on FBRef which begin in the summer (traditionally the start of European soccer), and end in the spring.
José Juan Macias is a 22 year old Mexican striker who currently plays for Getafe in Spain’s La Liga on loan from Chivas Guadalajara. Rising through the ranks of the Chivas academy, he made his senior debut in 2017 playing in 16 matches with 665 minutes of game time. In limited action, he scored three goals on 11 shots. That equates to 0.41 goals per 90 minutes.
The following season, Macias was loaned out to Club Leon, also in Liga MX. For Leon, Macias played in 14 matches with 11 starts with just over 900 minutes for the 2018-2019 Apertura and Clausura. He bagged eight goals and no assists for Leon. His 0.81 goals per 90 minutes was exceptional. In the 2019 Apertura, Macias played in 18 matches, starting all 18. He logged 1,400 minutes and scored another eight goals with two assists. Now, four of those goals came from the PK spot. He scored 0.51 goals per 90. Factoring in goals and assists minus penalty kicks mean that Macias’ G+A-PK per 90 was 0.39. On an interesting note: that season’s golden boot winner was… Alan Pulido.
Macias returned to Chivas for the 2020 Apertura. Re-debuting in July, he made 15 appearances, going the full 90 on 10 occasions. He scored five goals with no assists. For the 2019-20 seasons, Macias made 26 appearances with 25 starts. He logged over 2,000 minutes with 12 goals, and two assists. For the 2020-21 Apertura and Clausura, Macias made 27 starts over 30 apperances for just under 2300 minutes. In that time he bagged 11 goals and an assist for a G+A-PK per 90 of 0.39.
At the end of the 2021 Clausura, Chivas loaned Macias to Getafe of La Liga. Since his arrival, Macias has struggled. He has two starts and seven appearances with no goals. Macias found himself buried on the depth chart for a team that is fighting a relegation battle.
All told, Macias has 94 senior appearances with 71 starts in his career. He’s scored 34 goals and has three assists for a combined G+A-PK per 90 of 0.46.
Additionally, Macias has five caps for the senior Mexican National Team. He has scored four goals in five games, including a brace against Bermuda. In addition to his senior call ups, Macias has appeared regularly for El Tri’s youth teams, most recently earning a call up in 2021 for Mexico’s U-23 team in their quest to qualify for the Olympics. He made eight appearances that year with one goal for the U23s with four starts.
What do these numbers all mean?
Since he’s potentially replacing Alan Pulido, I chose to compare their career numbers to see what this might show us. Pulido has played in 229 matches in his career with nearly 15,000 minutes compared to Macias’s 6,000. Pulido has 72 goals and 24 assists with 13 of his goals coming from the spot. Comparatively, Macias has 34 goals and three assists with six goals coming from the spot. xG numbers are virtually impossible to find for LigaMx, so comparing them is a challenge. But this paints the picture that Macias might be as good or better than Pulido at finding the net, but is worse at setting his teammates up. If Macias does come to Sporting Kansas City, he certainly won’t be playing the “9” the same way that Pulido has. After watching some video, he’s a predominately right footed player who can finish with his left as well. One of Pulido’s strengths has been his ability to make strong runs forward to progress the ball. However, we rarely see any of the trickery or clever moves that make a YouTube highlight video pop. Macias seems to have a bit more of that to his game, or the people who put his highlight reels together are just better at finding flattering clips.
While Macias would replace Pulido, it’s is also worth comparing these numbers to some of his potential MLS competition. In 2021, Sebastian Blanco had a G+A-PK per 90 of 0.99. That number is astronomical and means that Blanco was either scoring a goal or getting an assist per game without the benefit of the PK spot. Macias’ 0.46 G+A-PK would rank him 60th behind Alan Pulido(0.50), Diego Rubio (0.49), and failed Toronto DP, Yeferson Soltedo (0.47). It would rank him above Gadi Kinda (0.44), Albert Rusnak (0.44), and attempted Sporting KC acquisition, Robert Beric (0.41).
So what kind of player would Macias be for Sporting KC?
All of this paints the picture of a striker in a much more traditional mold than the “9.5” striker/playmaker hybrid position that Alan Pulido plays. It remains to be seen whether Macias can drop deep to receive the ball in the midfield and provide the incisive passes that Pulido has to get seven assists in his two injury-shortened seasons with Sporting Kansas City. What isn’t in doubt is that Macias can find the net and that we need a striker.