Forward scoring rates paint mixed picture of attacking group

USA TODAY Sports

Not too long ago I explored who the best forwards are in Major League Soccer. I concluded that Alvaro Saborio is clearly one of the top forwards in the league based on certain statistics, specifically, goals per minutes played. Saborio leads the league in that category (as well as goals per games played and goals per shots on goal.)

I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at RSL's forwards based on statistics we have available. Clearly Saborio is Real's best forward since he leads the team in goals scored as well as four other scoring categories so there is no need to revisit Saborio's ranking on the club as far as goal-scoring is concerned. The real question is how the other forwards match up.

Robbie Findley ranks second on Real Salt Lake with goals per minutes played at .47. Olmes Garcia is not far behind Findley at .45. Among forwards Findley is second at goals per games played with .26 followed once again by Garcia with .21. Robbie is also second behind Sabo in forwards for goals per shot on goal which indicates that he does pretty well with his quality chances at 43%. This time there is a tie for third with both Sandoval and Garcia at 33%.

It would appear that statistically speaking, Robbie Findley starts to pull away from the rest when it comes to being the next best forward after Saborio. But the last category I want to explore sheds a whole new light on where the ranking is after Saborio and Findley. Something to take into account with forwards is how many goals they have per shot taken, which really is a good indicator how they do with their chances. This might Surprise you. Saborio leads, of course, at 24%. He is followed by Findley at 18%, Sandoval at 17%, Garcia at 15%, and lastly (here's where we learn something important) is Plata who only converts on 6% of his shots. Plata actually ranks last among all 5 RSL forwards in virtually every goal-scoring statistic in MLS play.

I don't bring this up to downplay Plata's value as he leads all RSL forwards with 8 assists which is also good enough for second best on the club. I also think he has had some moments of creative brilliance and that his enthusiasm is contagious. But when it comes to performance based on getting the ball past the opposing keeper, the stats don't lie. Plata is dead last among the club's forwards when it comes to scoring goals which is, after all, their main responsibility.

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