Over the course of the off-season, The Mane Land will look at each position within the Lions' starting XI to see how those players stacked up statistically against the league average player at that position.
We are continuing this weekly look at the strength of the Orlando City roster, and have already looked into the goalkeeper, right back and center back positions. Some of these articles changed after the roster was cleaned up this week--specifically at keeper, after Tally Hall was let go, leaving a hole at that position. You can find more on Orlando City's roster changes here.
The last defensive position left for The Mane Land to compare is the left back position. There was a bit of a shake-up here as Corey Ashe was let go by the front office, but this didn't come as a great surprise--he was making a large salary at $180,000 when only playing a part-time role. With the youth on the right side and Luke Boden showing his prowess in MLS, Ashe became expendable.
In this piece, the two players who we will be comparing to the league average player are Luke Boden and Brek Shea. Both of these players spent time at left back and are seen as the current players competing for the starting job in 2016.
The definition of the league average player in this comparison is a left back who has spent more than 700 minutes on the pitch over the course of the season in MLS matches. In doing this, we are able to remove any players from the league average who are considered full-time backups or did not see enough time on the field to be statistically significant.
We will be taking a look at both defensive and offensive measurements for this comparison. Listed below are the defensive measurements that will be looked at: Yellow Cards (YC), Fouls Committed (FC), Fouls Suffered (FS), and the difference between Fouls Committed and Fouls Suffered (FC-FS). These four statistics can be extremely telling in defining a defensive player's positioning on the field.
Remember, these defensive statistics will not tell the whole story; they can only help describe how aggressive and disciplined a player is in their given role. By looking at the foul situation, you can gauge how well a defender deals with attacks and also how aggressive he is.
We can see, unfortunately, that there is a good amount of red font, meaning both Brek Shea and Luke Boden receive more yellow cards than the league average player per 90 minutes. They also more than double (and in Brek Shea's case, more than triple) the FC-FS metric, which shows the disparity between fouls committed and fouls suffered, allowing us to see how disciplined a player is and how often they are fouled.
Even though Luke looks to be the more disciplined defender (above average at FC(90)) and Brek proves to be the more dangerous attacker (above average at FS(90)), neither excels at both. So, in the defensive measures, it seems that both players leave a bit to be desired. What does their offensive production look like?
Outside backs--especially in Adrian Heath's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation--need to be able to get up the field and play crosses, as well as add to the overall attack. Here we look at some numbers that can represent the players' addition to the overall attack: Ast(90), assists per 90 minutes; SHTS(90), shots per 90 minutes; and CR(90), crosses per 90 minutes.
The story here looks a bit different. Both Boden and Shea look strong when compared to the league average player at the position. Shea, specifically, looks appealing in the attack and Boden is strong in the assist and crosses categories. Both Luke and Brek show very well in the crosses per 90 minutes category, and this could be a product of the Orlando setup, as outside backs are asked to get up the field to send balls in from the wings.
In 2016, Orlando has a few options on the left side. While we have not yet looked into the left midfield position, don't be surprised if Shea finds himself in that conversation, too. Over the course of this year Boden has shown himself capable of playing left back in MLS and when you look at the measures from this year he compares well to the league average left back. Boden and Shea should play a role in Orlando City's lineup for seasons to come, and the team should expect a high level of success from both players.