Los Nerdes Verdes: Get You a Man Who Can Do Both

Who’s Creating Chances for Their Teams?

It’s early, we know, but there are already storylines developing in the race for the golden boot and we had to get in on the conversation. Who’s facilitating, who’s getting themselves in good positions, and who’s doing both? We took a look! Here are the league’s top 50 leaders in xA+xG. These stats come from American Soccer Analysis and are calculated on per 96 minutes and limited to those players with over 200 minutes played. Stats note: you can find more about how ASA assigns the xG and xA stats here.

Jordan Morris, who is tied for the highest xA+xG per 96 alongside today’s opponent, Carlos Vela, also leads the league in actual goals scored. His 1.38 goals per 96 mins is about 30% higher than 2nd-place’s Amine Bassi. The league’s top assist man is Morris’ Seattle teammate, Léo Chú who’s assisting a whopping 1.59 actual goals every 96 mins. 

Only two defenders made the cut with Kelvin Leerdam, a fullback for the Galaxy, sitting at 23rd. Yaw Yeboah of Columbus barely squeaks in tied for 49th. 

Just two Austin FC players make the cut into the top 50. Sebastian Driussi and Emiliano Rigoni are both tied for 49th with an identical 0.41 xA+xG per 96. Jon Gallagher, who has already scored a worldy this season, just misses the cut with 0.34 xA+xG per 96. 

What jumps out to you? Who drops off, who turns it on, and are there any names you expect to see near the top of the list that aren’t on there now?

The Matchup

It’s no secret how good LAFC are — a fact that’s evident even this early in the season. Last year’s Western Conference and MLS champs are in the 85th percentile or higher in all of our tracking stats other than possession. Those stats are made perhaps even more impressive by the fact that they’ve been juggling a full slate of CONCACAF Champions League games in the midweek. It was that fact that was giving Austin FC supporters some hope heading into this matchup. The best case scenario was that the Whitecaps would give LAFC a dogfight on Tuesday to tire out some of their weapons. Unfortunately for the Verde & Black, the Canadian side was well and truly dispatched by the 61st minute. 

That CCL matchup also displayed the talents of Denis Bouanga whose brace included a 25-yard banger to open the night’s scoring. He will be one of many that Austin will have to watch in transition. LAFC are arguably the best counter attacking team in the league. They don’t need the ball to beat you and the fact that they have the league’s 5th-highest goals/game and also the 10th-lowest possession demonstrates that. While the Verde anxiously await for the return of Cascante, Alex Ring’s skillset might actually be a better fit for this game. The midfielder-turned-defender is a better defender of the channels than any CB not named Leo that Austin can offer up.

LAFC have only given up three goals this season, but two of them have come off of set pieces. This is the exact kind of game that an aerial weapon like Cascante is going to be missed, but having Vaisanen back from international duty is a big relief. If we can get 2022-level service from Fagundez and Austin FC’s corner kick takers, the Verde’s best chance in this game might be a smash and grab.