What I am about to write pains me, because I, for a long time, was a fan of Colorado Rapids striker Deshorn Brown. I love his speed. I think he's young, and still has a lot of potential. And when thinking about what uniform to get in the offseason, Brown was very nearly to be my pick. Instead, I ended up getting a cheaper replica kit off EBay for $20 with no number on the back. We're broke. Diapers are expensive. But I digress.
What I want to say is: Deshorn Brown has to go. He has not been successful as a Rapid. Let me explain.
Any Rapids fan that watched last season knows that Deshorn is prone to big misses in front of goal. This is a known thing. Observe. (HT Mr. Whitesides)
As a former Deshorn defender, I tried to ignore the fact of Deshorn's poor shooting on the basis of two suppositions. Supposition 1: Deshorn is young and likely to get better at shooting. Supposition 2: He gets a lot of chances because of his amazing speed, so we only see the negative side- that he misses a lot- without balancing it against the fact that he gets chances that other players don't get.
I'm not sure either of those is entirely wrong. However, with the leaked news that Tippalegaen side Vålerenga is interested in Deshorn, it was worth extra scrutiny to consider whether he is a valuable asset worth holding onto, or whether he is expendable.
And my conclusion is: expendable. Fire him into the sun. If his transfer fee is $50 and the Rapids to pay for Deshorn's airfare and first and last months deposit on an apartment in Oslo, then go ahead and make that deal, Paul Bravo. Lemmee ‘splain.
The nouveau-statistic ‘Expected Goals' takes each and every shot and analyzes the probability of a goal in each case. Americansoccerstatistics.com ranked every player in MLS last season, and out of 532 players, Deshorn Brown was dead last in xGoals.
That little orange box is the differential between what he should have scored, and what he did score. Not only is he the worst in MLS, he's the worst by almost a whole goal over the next worst shooter.
And it gets worse. Deshorn Brown also clearly attended the Kobe Bryant School of Shooting. Kobe famously said last season ‘I would go 0-for-30 before I would go 0-for-9.' Message: the only crime of a bad shooter is that he didn't shoot enough. Deshorn Brown was second in MLS in shots last year. He was not, however, second in goals. In fact, his scoring percent of 8.3%, while not last in the league, is still pretty low. Among strikers with more than 30 shots, only Dom Oduro and Teal Bunbury, and Edson Buddle (of course) were lower. All of those guys are (or in Buddle's case, were) fleet-footed too. Neither took anywhere near 121 shots. I mean, he literally shoots like he thinks he's Robbie Keane or Clint Dempsey. He is not.
I have a feeling that it was not Deshorn's poor form that kept him from getting steady reps during pre-season: it was the arrival of stat-head Padraig Smith. I imagine Smith did the math and told the front office and Coach Mastroeni: the one single best thing you can do for this team is sit Deshorn Brown. The message seems received loud and clear, since Brown didn't get the start in the season opener.
Among Rapids fans, there's a bit of disagreement about the alternatives. Dom Badji is a Cinderella story, came out of nowhere; so I'm partial to the 4th round pick. Gabriel Torres is a good choice, and statistically he was right around average in the statistic of expected goals, but some think he's best as a number 10. He wasn't impressive in that role against Philadelphia, though, so maybe he's your striker. Finally, Kevin Doyle from Wolverhampton in the English Championship is rumored to be sought by the Rapids. I know he has the tools and the makeup, but as you can see from below, he hasn't scored in over a year. He's only taken one shot this season. He has a whole truck-load of rust to shake off, and I'm not sure that that's DP cash-worthy.
Maybe Deshorn needs more time to develop. Maybe he's incredibly unlucky.
Nonetheless, it seems clear that, as sad as it is for me to say, getting rid of Deshorn Brown would be addition by subtraction. If he's going to engineer a turn-around, I will be the loudest to cheer for him. But if he needs to improve his game, let him do in the Tippaligaen, and let Vålerenga take the risk. Sometimes a change of scenery can revive a player's career. And I wish all the best to Deshorn. But for those of us in Commerce City, it's time to move on to something better.