The Colorado Rapids like spreading the love around this season, that's for sure, both in terms of positive passing statistics and in terms of goals. But is it really all that different from season's prior? More importantly, does it mean anything that goals have come from different places?
Follow me after the jump, my little lamb, and let's crunch some numbers. If it makes you feel less nerdy, we get take our shirts off and flex at each other the whole time.
Ah, doesn't that feel better? GRR. Flexing.
Anyway. Looking at this from a historical perspective starting with the beginning of the Gary Smith years and the end of the Fernando Clavijo years as a benchmark. By this time in 2009, the Rapids had scored 13 goals. Those goals came courtesy of six players: Omar Cummings, Terry Cooke, Conor Casey, Colin Clark, Nick Labrocca, and Kosuke Kimura.
That was considered a "bad year" for the Rapids, but not the worst. We suffered a regime change near mid season in 2008 after a blowup with Fernando Clavijo, and then that legend from England came in. His first full season in charge was 2009. I didn't want to use 2008 data for that reason. Too much chaos. But even so, things calmed down by 2010 and the Rapids won a championship. This is called a good year by fans. Let's find out what happened that year.
By this time in that 2010 year the Colorado Rapids had only scored 10 goals. Unbelievable, right? I thought this was supposed to be our good year! These goals also came from 6 players: Omar Cummings, Conor Casey, Jeff Larentowicz, Mehdi Ballouchy, Pablo Mastroeni, and Drew Moor.
This year, by comparison, the Rapids have scored a whopping 17 goals. These goals have also come courtesy of 10 different players, and unprecedented number in Rapids history: Kamani Hill, Omar Cummings, Jaime Castrillon, Tony Cascio, Martin Rivero, Kosuke Kimura, Quincy Amarikwa, Tyrone Marshall, Jeff Larentowicz, and Drew Moor.
That's huge, right?
So why does it feel so gloomy in Rapids land if everything is sunny in our offense?
Because our Goals Against Average has gone up. Granted, I'm comparing that statistic with whole seasons. But compared over a whole season, Goals Against have increased steadily by 10% year-over-year since 2010. In 2009 the numbers are wonky because Matt Pickens went out at the end of the season with an injury, giving Preston Burpo the call up. Burpo's GAA was worse than Pickens by a mile.
But wait, Ben, how is it that Pickens has a bigger GAA than years prior (up till now 1.31 as opposed to his career best 1.10) even though we think he's been having a great year?
I don't know if you've noticed, but our defense has not been having a great year. Let's talk in shots. That's really the only stat that I have available on this. We're about a third of the way through the season now, and we've taken 59 shots on goal. If we multiply that out by three, and make it an even 60, we will have allowed 180 shots on goal. By the end of 2010, the Rapids had only allowed 120. 2011 was even better, we only allowed 117.
My question to you is: are you a title contender if you allow 180 shots on your goal? Your answer should be: no. If looming around 100 shots allowed on goal and a 1.10 GAA is how a title contender defends, this Rapids team is far off the mark. 1.31 is not 1.10. and 180 projected shots on goal is not 120. We're not even a third of the way through the season and we've already allowed more shots than ever before.
Wait. OK stop. Before you go on the Rapids Facebook page and make a mess about how we are the worst team in the league and that you are canceling your season tickets... There's a bright side: the offense is good. I'm not worried so much about our defense because our offense is putting up record numbers of goals and from a record number of places. And even more importantly, a record number of them are coming from within the 18 yard box. That's great news because ANYONE should be able to score from the 18 yard box.
And that's the deal breaker, isn't it? It's not so much about how many people are score but that the Rapids are creating the kind of chances that even Scott Palguta should be able to finish. Encouraging statistic? You bet your ass. Our offense isn't just good, it's scary good. If you can create the short of chance that anyone can finish off, you are officially a dangerous offense. That's better than having a feared strike duo. That's better than having Robbie Keane. That's almost better than having Papiss Cisse. That's like Bayern Munich good. That's like Barcelona good.
The only thing that the Rapids need now is to also be Chelsea good. Defending stats are not as exciting as offensive stats, but if the Rapids don't reduce their GAA and more importantly (I think) their shots allowed, then we're not going to be serious contenders for any title this season.