Driussi’s Value Amongst the Elites
Soccer’s a complicated game, and as such, we don’t have a single statistic that defines success. That’s especially true for outfield players. While stats like psxG-G can fairly well encapsulate a keeper’s shotstopping ability, there aren’t many data points that can accurately define the value a player brings to their team. On the offensive side of the ball, taking a look at the expected goals and assists generated, however, can tell a fairly decent story on how involved a player is in their team’s production.
For a good chunk of MLS’s marquee signings, their value is judged by their ability to affect change going towards goal. 2022 so far has been a season of big-name signings being defined by their output — not always in the positive. Xherdan Shaqiri made headlines as a summer signing but is sporting an npxG+A (7.1) that’s not exactly reflective of a long European career or his staggering price tag. Similarly, Gonzalo Higuaín has spent the first half of the season being wringed out by pundits and fans alike for poor effort and performance. His form as of late has been astounding including a first half hat trick against Cincinnati last week.
Overshadowing their production, however, are their hefty salaries. There’s value to be had in high-cost players, however, including Austin’s own Sebastian Driussi who makes our “good value” cluster along with Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar (15.2) and Cinci’s Luciano Acosta (12.2). The edge El Crack has above his peers are his actuals with a league-leading 14 goals. Tonight will be another opportunity for the leading man in Verde to show out against a porous San Jose defense.
San Jose are one of the most unusual teams in the league, and their contest against Austin on April 2nd may be the most distilled example of that. Jumping out to an early 2-0 lead, Austin would end up unceremoniously ceding control of the game and dropping points on their way to a 2-2 draw.
At the time, it felt like Austin had taken the foot off the gas and moved away from their possession-first gameplan at the worst possible time. Since then, the Verde & Black has proven that they can win games in a variety of ways — taking 13 of 15 possible points this season in games in which they had less than 50% of the possession. That has to be a point of optimism coming into this game. San Jose is one of the only teams in the league with a higher possession stat than Austin, a statistical category they own with a league-high 58.2%.
The reasonable next question is what they’re doing with that possession. As the Austin faithful are all too aware, possession doesn’t necessarily equal goals, especially in MLS. San Jose, on the other hand, are converting in the goals department — netting the league’s 6th highest goals at 1.64 a game. For their troubles? A whopping 13th in the West — a season that has some of their supporters urging them to tank. That’s strictly a result of their complete inability to keep the ball out of their own net. Their 2.05 GA/90 puts them on par with a D.C. United side that have put up about as much resistance as one of those H-E-B curbside brown bags that your beer has soaked through.
Oddly enough, Austin’s home performances have started to be called into question — a byproduct of both capturing just 5 out of 15 available points in the last 5 matches and the Verde’s stellar away record. Regardless of those recent stumbles, there’s absolutely no excuse for Austin to walk away from this game with anything less than 3 points.
If anything, the focus could be on another prime opportunity for Sebastian Driussi to add to his league-leading 21 G+A. Even the suggestion that Austin in year 2 would have an MVP candidate would feel like a fever dream for those who followed last year’s squad, but what’s even more extraordinary is that we’re get