Over the course of the off-season, The Mane Land will be looking at each position within the Lions' starting XI and seeing how those players statistically stacked up against the league average player at that position. Last week, we looked at Rafael Ramos when compared to the average MLS right back; if you missed it, check it out here and let us know your thoughts!
This week, we'll take a look at Orlando's center backs and see how they compare, statistically, to the MLS average center back. As we stated last week, statistics only paint a part of the picture; many other variables come into play with an individual's on-field contribution. Also, given the importance of communication within the back line, remember that finding a pairing of defenders that not only compliment each other, but work well together is almost as important as finding a single dominant defender. We saw this last year as the relationships began to grow and each player learned their teammates' tendencies while racking up minutes next to them on the back line.
Before we move into looking directly at the comparisons, the three players we will take a look at are Aurélien Collin, Seb Hines, and David Mateos. These three constituted the bulk of starts and minutes played at the center back position for Orlando over the course of the season. Although Sean St. Ledger started many games at the beginning of the year, we will focus mostly on players who are still with the club.
The comparison between these three players will also be measured against the league average center back, representing the league average starter within MLS at that position. The statistics used to compare on field play for the center backs will all be normalized to 'per 90 minutes,' which lets us look at each player through the microscope of their play in a full match.
The important metrics below are: tackles, interceptions, fouls, clearances per 90 minutes, and the league average defender's (LAD) measure for each relative metric.
As you can see, the standout performer for each measure is highlighted with the purple data point and Aurélien Collin stands out in a positive manner in interceptions. While he leads the defenders with 3.5 interceptions per game, he negatively leads in fouls, as well, by a slight margin of 1.3 per game over Seb Hines' 1.2 per game. All Orlando players successfully stand above the league average defender in both tackles and clearances.
Seb seems to be in the middle of the pack for each specific metric, and even though he is above the league average defender in these measures he doesn't stand out--either positively or negatively--when compared to the other Orlando players studied. David Mateos, on the other hand, performs well in the clearances per game category and he also sits below the league average player in fouls. However, he is not as strong as Collin and Hines in the interception category; both players sit at least a half interception per game above the league average.
Any way you slice it, Orlando's three central defenders look to be above average in at least a few of the most important defensive statistics. The issue moving forward will be to make sure that these players stay healthy and that the relationships develop so that the back line communicates and operates like a well oiled machine. Hopefully, with a stable roster situation going into the second MLS season for Orlando, we will see some growth in defense that could help lead the team to its first playoff berth in 2016.
Who do you think should be starting for Orlando in central defense, and which pairing would do the best job? Leave your comments below!