Home Featured Breaking down the Whitecaps’ 2012 season, player by player

Breaking down the Whitecaps’ 2012 season, player by player

Camilo: Best plus-minus on the Whitecaps.
There is no team sport in the world that’s as difficult to statistically quantify as soccer. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to try.

Over the next few days, The 11 will break down the seasons of three Canadian MLS teams and lone NASL squad to try and figure out which players had the greatest impacts — both positively and negatively — on their teams. We begin on the West Coast with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Our formula wasn’t all that hard. We broke down the goals the Whitecaps scored and gave up when each of the players was on the field. Basically, we mimic hockey’s plus-minus rating, without any of the exceptions hockey makes for special teams. If a Whitecap was on the field for a goal against, he got a -1. If he was on the field for a goal, he got a +1.

But, understanding that being on the pitch for a 4-1 loss against New England can quickly mess up a plus-minus (if you’re on the pitch for three one-goal wins, it only gets you back to even), we added some components to the rating system. We didn’t adjust for red cards and penalties because we have seen that in soccer, teams can win when they are down a man.

And we made it simple. Wins, losses and draws. We looked at the team’s record when a player a) featured in a full match b) started the game but was subbed out c) came on as a sub. There are some marked differences in the Whitecaps’ record when certain players do or do not play. The Whitecaps will almost certainly lose if Darren Mattocks plays 90 minutes. But, before Davide Chiumiento left, the ‘Caps were undefeated if he played — but NOT the full 90.

The chart does not include Amway Canadian Championship matches, but does include the playoff loss to Los Angeles.

Our chart is in the North American W-L-T format, because we live in North America. You want to put draws before losses? Move to the U.K. They’ll do that for you over there.

Looking at the Whitecaps chart, there are some interesting trends:

• Waiver-wire bound midfielder John Thorrington had the worst plus/minus, at -11.

• The best? Camilo, at +5.

• Davide Chiumiento, who left for Switzerland at mid-season, had one of the oddest statistical lines. In the seven matches in which he played the full 90, the Whitecaps got just three of a potential 21 points (0-4-3). But, in the games in which Chiumiento appeared but did not play the full match, the Whitecaps were undefeated (6-0-3). That trend tells you that Chiumiento is an asset, but doesn’t have the legs. You need to plan to play him 60, not 90.

• The Whitecaps were just 1-5-2 when Darren Mattocks played the full 90.

• And when Barry Robson played the full 90? Whitecaps were 2-8-4.

• In 14 matches, Kenny Miller managed to come up with the second-worst plus-minus on the team, at-8. Jordan Harvey was also a -8, but played many more matches than Miller.

• When Jun Marques Davidson played 90, the Whitecaps were a very good 9-4-6. When he started and needed to be subbed off? The Caps were 0-5-0; that line suggests that Davidson is a Jekyll-and-Hyde player — when he’s good, he’s very good. But when he’s off, he has to come off the pitch because his game is harming the team.

• In just four appearances — none of them full matches — Russell Teibert compiled a troubling -5.

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One Comment

  1. Rango

    December 11, 2012 at 4:18 am

    Plus/minus as a soccer stat? What other reputable soccer media organizations use this as a metric?

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