The Sounders need to be more accurate and take more shots to be successful. This is the conclusion after reviewing their stats throughout the entire MLS 2012 Season. The argument could be made that time of possession does not matter. In games the Sounders won, their time of possession percentage was 49.64%, although in games they did not win this number only dips to 49.16%. During the course of the season possession tends to even out and while possessions are important it is what you do with those possessions which matters. We are going to examine what it would have taken to put the team at the top of the conference and secured not only home field advantage throughout the playoffs but the ability to host the MLS Cup had they made it; it is not as much as you think.
What does matter? Shots, Shots, Shots!
The Sounders shot 439 times during the regular season which equates to 12.9 shot attempts per game and roughly a 32% shot accuracy including shots on goal (141). This also translates into .13 points per shot taken, puts a value on shots taken regardless of whether the shots are accurate or not. League wide the accuracy for teams taking shots on goal was 34%, which means the Sounders would be a full 2% below that line. However, the team does have a higher value per shot taken at .13 points per shot instead of the league average of .10 points per shot taken. If we say we want the team just have the average number of the top ten shots; this would mean the sounders taking 472 shots. This would be over the course of the season so their shots per game would move to 13.88, which is less than a one shot per game increase. What would that do for the team? Well it would increase their points for the season to 61.36 so for argument sake we will say 62 points total for the season. This would have catapulted them a solid 2nd place above Real Salt Lake at 57 points and within shouting distance of the Supporters Shield winners the San Jose Earthquakes at 66 points.
This is not an inconceivable increase. This is only 32 shots more over the course of 34 games. However with Seattle loaning out Freddy Montero, they will not only have a hard time replacing the player but also the value in points the 3rd leading shot take in the MLS accounted for. 126 shots accounts for 16 points in the standings and makes the drop from 3rd place in the Western Conference to not making the playoffs by a full 4 points. You say well the next man up philosophy will have to take hold? Well Eddie Johnson only had 72 shots taken which is just under a full reduction of half and only accounts for 9 points in the standings and Osvaldo Alonso took 41 shots and accounts for 5.5 pts.
The Sounders are truly underestimating their need for another all- start caliber forward who takes lots of shots. Granted this doesn’t take into account when shots or taken or if there are deflections etc, but by a statistical straight across the board breakdown of the value of shots taken. Taking 126 shots and 16 points off the board could have a devastating impact on the team, even if there are able to recoup half of that number with a mix and max philosophy of players stepping up.
While some of you may say this doesn’t work, look at Real Salt Lake who finished above the Sounders but took 22 less shots over the course of the season. RSL also had a 4% higher accuracy rate when shooting and this translates into points on the board. They garner a .14 pts per shot compared to the .13 the Sounders achieved. Meaning the Sounders need to increase the total number of shots or become much more precise and accurate with the shots they do take.
The team must become much more offensively minded and be a proponent of possibly a less finesse game and a more brute force attack of sheer numbers.