Around MLS: Morales most fouled, Sarvas leading league in fouls committed

USA TODAY Sports

Every year there are articles about 'dirty players' or 'rough teams', so as a followup to the Goals and Shots, we now get to look at Fouls and Cards and evaluate the teams and players in that regard.

League wide, 6,144 fouls have been called, with 767 Yellow Cards being issued, and 64 Red Cards.  That breaks down into 24.77 fouls per game, 3.09 YC per game, and 0.26 RC per game.  The median for the league is: 329 Fouls, 38 YC, 3 RC.

What makes a 'dirty player'?  Is it simply the number of fouls caused, or perhaps cards received?  Perhaps those are questions for a different article, but for now here's few quick tidbits for consideration.

Player Team Games Played Fouls Caused Yellow Cards Red Cards Fouls / Game Fouls / Card
Marcelo Sarvas LAG 25 66 7 0 2.64 9.4
Tim Cahill NYRB 22 62 4 0 2.81 15.5
Diego Chara PT 23 57 6 0 2.47 9.5
Oriol Rosell SKC 26 56 8 0 2.15 7
Lee Nguyen NER 26 53 5 0 2.04 10.6
Nigel Reo-Coker VWc 24 51 8 0 2.13 6.3
Aurelien Collin SKC 24 48 10 0 2.0 4.8
Jackson FCD 23 48 4 2 2.09 8
Connor Casey PU 24 45 7 0 1.88 6.43
Danny O'Rourke CC 21 44 5 0 2.10 8.8
Hendry Thomas CR 20 44 7 0 2.20 6.29

Sarvas may foul the most, but going by fouls/game Cahill is marginally worse.  However if the nature of the fouls is the issue then Collin would be the worst offender getting a card for every 4.8 fouls he commits.

On the flip side, what players are drawing the most fouls?  There are certain players in the league who seem to be tackle magnets.

Player Team Games Played Fouls Suffered Fouls / Game
Javier Morales RSL 24 68 2.83
David Ferreira FCD 24 62 2.58
Darlington Nagbe PT 26 59 2.27
Ned Grabavoy RSL 26 55 2.12
Fabian Espindola NYRB 24 53 2.21
Dillon Powers CR 26 52 2
Marcelo Sarvas LAG 25 50 2
Patrick Nyarko CF 21 49 2.33
Lee Nguyen NER 26 48 1.85
Felipe Martins MI 24 45 1.88

Morales is one foul against away from equaling his total from last year.  The most fouls he ever received in a single year was 76 back in 2010.  It's interesting to note that two RSL players are in the top 5, receiving a combined total of 123 fouls.  That accounts for over 35% of all RSL's fouls against (see below).

Here's the club-by-club breakdown sorted by the number of fouls.

Sporting Kansas City

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
27 401 354 52 34 1 9
F/G FA/G YC% YCA % RC % RCA %
14.85 13.11 12.97 12.15 0.25 2.54

KC has committed the most fouls in the league, and the most per game - 47 more than they receive, yet their percentage of YC is just slightly more than average.  It is interesting to note that one player has accounted for nearly a 5th of their total Yellow Cards (Aurelien Collin).  SKC has had the 2nd lowest number of Red Cards for, but have drawn the 2nd highest Red's Against.

Leading Fouler: Oriol Rosell (56) - 14.0%

Most Fouled: Graham Zusi (41) - 11.6%

Chivas USA

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
26 365 316 52 31 8 3
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
14.04 12.15 14.25 9.81 2.19 0.95

Chivas is 2nd in Fouls, 1st in Reds, and 5th in Yellow Cards; but 2nd to last in YC against.  Chivas has the most total cards in the league (60) equaling 2.3 cards per game.  It is interesting to note that in Red Cards per game one team is worse - Seattle.

Leading Fouler: Bobby Burling (31) - 8.5%

Most Fouled: Eric Avila (38) - 12.0%

New York Red Bulls

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
27 346 280 32 31 5 0
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
12.81 10.37 9.25 11.07 1.45 0

NY is fouled least often in the league - an average of 10.37 per game.  Although they are 3rd in total fouls, a league-low 10.69% of them are worthy of a card.  If any team is making a case for the "Fair Play" award they're it.

Leading Fouler: Tim Cahill (62) - 17.9%

Most Fouled: Fabian Espindola (53) - 18.9%

Toronto FC

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
26 346 343 50 46 4 3
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
13.31 13.19 14.45 13.41 1.16 0.87

4th in total fouls, but 3rd in fouls per game and are also 4th in percentage of Yellow Cards.  They are 4th in Fouls Against per game.

Leading Fouler: Jeremy Hall (25) - 7.2%

Most Fouled: Matias Laba (31) - 9.0%

Philadelphia Union

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
27 345 319 47 42 2 10
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
12.78 11.81 13.62 13.17 0.58 3.13

In every regard but one Philly has been close to average.  Even though they've committed the 5th most fouls, they're just above average per game in every area except Red Cards Against - with a league high 10.

Leading Fouler: Connor Casey (45) - 13.0%

Most Fouled: Michael Farfan (38) - 11.9%

Portland Timbers

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
26 345 348 38 34 3 3
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
13.27 13.38 11.01 9.77 0.87 0.86

4th in Fouls per Game, 3rd in Fouls Against per game.  The Timbers also have the league-low YC Against percentage.
Leading Fouler: Diego Chara (57) - 16.5%
Most Fouled: Darlington Nagbe (59) - 17.0%

Columbus Crew

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
26 343 321 51 46 1 2
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
13.19 12.35 14.87 14.33 0.29 0.62

The Crew have the distinction of getting the highest percentage of Yellow Cards, and also the highest Yellow Cards Against.  They are 3rd lowest in Red Cards.

Leading Fouler: Danny O'Rourke (44) - 12.8%

Most Fouled: Dominic Oduro (42) - 13.1%

Real Salt Lake

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
28 335 343 49 48 5 4
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
11.96 12.25 14.63 13.99 1.49 1.17

With the most games played their numbers may look higher, but they are close to average in many areas.  The two where they fall close to best (or worst) in the league are 3rd in Yellow Cards, and 2nd in Yellow's Against.  As noted above, Morales is the most fouled player in the league accounting for 19.8% of all of RSL's fouls against.

Leading Fouler: Ned Grabavoy (35) - 10.4%

Most Fouled: Javier Morales (68) - 19.8%

Colorado Rapids

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
27 333 329 35 40 4 3
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
12.33 12.19 10.51 12.16 1.20 0.91

The Rapids are 3rd best in Yellow Card percentage, and are tied for the 6th fewest total cards.  In all other regards they are close to average.

Leading Fouler: Hendry Thomas (44) - 13.2%

Most Fouled: Dillon Powers (52) - 15.8%

New England Revolution

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
26 329 339 36 45 5 2
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
12.65 13.04 10.94 13.27 1.52 0.59

The Revs are 4th best in Yellow Card percentage, however they are 5th worst in Red Cards percentage.  They have also had the 3rd least Red Cards against.  An interesting note is that the leading fouler has also drawn the most fouls.  Only one other team (LAG) shares that distinction.

Leading Fouler: Lee Nguyen (53) - 16.1%

Most Fouled: Lee Nguyen (48) - 14.2%

San Jose Earthquakes

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
27 328 334 44 42 5 5
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
12.15 13.04 10.94 13.27 1.52 0.59

The 'Quakes have the 4th highest Red Card percentage, and are 3rd in Red's against.  Perhaps it's down to some of the Soccer matches that break out in between fights?  J/K - that was only the last game vs FCD.

Leading Fouler: Sam Cronin (41) - 12.5%

Most Fouled: Steven Lenhart (29) - 8.7%

FC Dallas

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
26 321 377 40 47 5 5
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
12.35 14.5 12.46 12.47 1.56 13.3

Dallas has drawn the most fouls in the league by a large margin - the next closest (MI) has 41 less.  Unfortunately they've also drawn the 3rd highest Red Card percentage.  Having players sent off has not helped them in the standings.

Leading Fouler: Jackson (48) - 14.9%

Most Fouled: David Ferreira (62) - 16.4%

Los Angeles Galaxy

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
26 308 310 29 41 1 4
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
11.85 11.92 9.42 13.23 0.33 1.29

The Galaxy have the 2nd best percentage for Yellow Cards, only behind the Red Bulls, and they're 4th best on Red Cards.  The interesting note is that one person accounts for over 21% of LA's fouls including 7 of the Yellow Cards, though he also draws the most fouls from other teams as well.  Looks like Sarvas can take as well as he gives.

Leading Fouler: Marcelo Sarvas (66) - 21.4%

Most Fouled: Marcelo Sarvas (50) - 16.1%

Seattle Sounders

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
24 302 305 34 30 7 2
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
12.58 12.71 11.26 9.8 2.32 0.66

As with RSL, the Sounder's totals are skewed to the lower end since they've played less games than everyone.  In total fouls per game they run about average; where they differ is in the cards.  Seattle has the 3rd lowest Yellows Against percentage, but the worst Red's for.  7 Reds is 2nd only to Chivas' but with two fewer games played.

Leading Fouler: Osvaldo Alonso (37) - 12.2%

Most Fouled: Eddie Johnson (32) - 10.5%

Vancouver Whitecaps

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
26 294 297 35 41 1 4
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
11.31 11.42 11.9 13.8 0.34 1.35

5th best in total Fouls, 4th best fouls per game, and 3rd least fouls against.  The 'Caps also are 5th in Yellows Against, and 4th in Reds Against.  Can we just say that when teams do foul them, there's a good chance for a card?

Leading Fouler: Nigel Reo-Coker (51) - 17.3%

Most Fouled: Gershon Koffie (39) - 13.1%

D.C. United

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
26 293 330 37 46 0 1
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
11.27 12.69 12.63 13.94 0 0.30

DC has the 3rd least fouls per game, and are the only team to have no Red Cards.  They've drawn 4th most Yellows against, but 2nd least Reds against.  I'd say they're in contention for the "Fair Play" award, which may be a small consolation given the way this season has gone for them.

Leading Fouler: Perry Kitchen (31) - 10.6%

Most Fouled: Dwayne De Rosario (34) - 10.3%

Chicago Fire

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
25 293 330 37 46 0 1
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
11.32 11.56 13.07 12.46 1.06 0

The Fire have the 3rd least fouls, but are 4th best in Fouls per Game.  They've had the 4th least fouls against them, and are one of two teams that have had no Reds Against (NYRB is the other).

Leading Fouler: Jeff Larentowicz (35) - 11.9%

Most Fouled: Patrick Nyarko (49) - 14.8%

Houston Dynamo

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
25 269 274 31 31 3 2
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
10.76 10.96 11.52 11.31 1.12 0.73

Houston is 2nd best at Fouls committed and Fouls per Game.  They also have the 2nd lowest YC percentage, behind NYRB.  They're making a pretty good case for the "Fair Play" award.

Leading Fouler: Kofi Sarkodie (28) - 10.4%

Most Fouled: Ricardo Clark (40) - 14.6%

Montreal Impact

Played Fouls Against YC Against RC Against
25 258 336 38 47 1 2
F/G FA/G YC % YCA % RC % RCA %
10.32 13.44 14.73 13.99 0.39 0.60

The Impact certainly aren't living up to their name with the fewest Fouls in the league.  However they have been on the receiving end earning the 2nd most Fouls Against per game.  However they do have the 2nd worst YC percentage behind Columbus, and are tied for 2nd in Yellows Against.

Leading Fouler: Patrice Bernier (41) - 15.9%

Most Fouled: Felipe Martins (45) - 13.4%

So what's the "Dirtiest Team"?  That all depends on what metric you use to judge.  If you go by cards then Chivas has it, if you go with total fouls it's SKC.  Yellows per game would be Columbus, while Reds would be Seattle.  Looks like this is a topic for another day...

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