Last fall, Orlando City did something surprising: after signing Tally Hall as one of the first players to represent Orlando at the MLS level, they then went and spent the number one pick in the Expansion Draft on Donovan Ricketts, the long time Jamaican national team goalkeeper. This pick gave Orlando two of the most experienced and gifted goalkeepers and allowed a sense of comfort from the back of the defense moving forward.
The point of this article is not to argue whether or not that was the best choice for the first pick in the Expansion Draft, but to simply look at the goalie position from a statistical point of view when compared to the league average throughout MLS. The Mane Land will, over the next few months, compare the Orlando City SC players from a given position statistically to the league average and decide whether or not that position is a strength for the club moving forward.
Starting with the goalkeeper, we have to understand that this position is unique in the fact that the successes and failures experienced by a goalie are directly related to the play of the players in front of him. Goalkeepers are the last line of defense and in many cases good goalkeepers can be made to look very bad if they are surrounded by an unsound defensive front. Yet, after understanding this it would be hard to control for the constant change that happens from team to team any given week and thus we are going to judge all goalkeepers from the same perspective.
The caveat that you should be aware of when describing the league average player is that The Mane Land wanted to look at goalies who had enough time on the pitch to actually not only find their confidence but also get into the flow of the game. To this end, we removed any players who had fewer than 700 minutes on the pitch for the entire season, as these players would undoubtedly be the back-up on a given team.
Below are the statistics from two of the most telling stats that represent a goalie's play: Goals Against Average (GAA) and Save Percentage (SV%). Goals Against Average is derived by taking the total goals scored against the particular keeper multiplied by 90 (minutes in a game), then dividing that by the total minutes played ((GA*90)/Minutes Played). Save Percentage is the number of total saves divided by the number of total shots on goal faced (TSAV/SHG).
Unfortunately, by looking at the pure statistics one would come to the conclusion that Tally Hall--the only player for Orlando that reached the requisite amount of play time--does not look to be a strength for Orlando. He has a 64 percent save percentage and the league average goalkeeper hovers around 71 percent. Tally also has a worse goals against average at 1.78 goals against compared to the league average goalkeeper who lets in 1.15 per game.
Donovan Ricketts, who is no longer on the roster after the mid-season trade, also reach the minimum requirements to be compared and evaluated but he looks even worse that Tally, with a 63 percent save percentage and a 1.52 GAA.
Despite Tally Hall's apparent lack of success--when compared to the league average--Hall's play kept Orlando City in the playoff hunt late in the season. The numbers might tell a different story, but Hall checks all the right 'eye-test' boxes. The goalkeeper position is definitely a position of strength moving forward for Orlando City. We hope that Tally returns from his knee injury to lead Orlando to even greater success next year.