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Six stats after RSL's first 10 games

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

With Real Salt Lake playing their tenth game of the season last weekend, we're taking a look at six statistical measures where Real Salt Lake can find their play best reflected.

While many of these take a negative bent, there's plenty of room for optimism after the last two matches. Let's dig into some numbers and rankings, but let's also think about coming back to these same numbers at the end of the month and evaluate May on its own. We might start to see patterns emerge.

These stats, for convenience sake, come from Squawka. Check that out if you're so inclined.

Squawka's performance score

While unifying performance into a single statistical measure is something that renders me a little bit skeptical, they at least provide a launching-off point for discussion.

They render their measures in three sections: defensive, possession, and attack.

Let's look at the top five teams for the defensive score, because that's where RSL has been at their best. This certainly passes the eye test.

D.C. United 167.2 102.4 -48.7 221
Real Salt Lake 127.4 56 -63.1 120.4
LA Galaxy 127.09 59.36 -42.27 144.27
Red Bulls 122.56 119.89 -43 199.44
Sporting KC 121.9 97.7 -29 190.6

It's interesting to note that the top five teams for 'defensive performance' are also five teams with negative possession performances. That might speak more to the measure than to anything else, but it's at least a point we can discuss.

Defensive performance

Let's look at defensive actions, because that's going to be the easiest way to measure our defensive performances. Aside from, you know, goals against — although, to be fair, one match against New England is certainly skewing that.

  • Clearances: RSL is second in the league in clearances per game — 33.8, just below San Jose's 34.9. High clearances probably isn't a great thing, and we've seen RSL step down in this statistic a bit in the last two matches, it seems.
  • Blocked shots: RSL is fourth with 3.5, behind D.C. United with 3.6 and NYCFC and Portland Timbers, both of whom have 3.9. This is good, but it also means our opponents are getting in shooting positions. Again, this is hard to judge on.
  • Interceptions: RSL in fifth with 20.4; SKC is in first with 25.1. That's a slightly more positive statistic, but it also depends on not controlling possession as frequently as the team might like.

Duels won percentage

Real Salt Lake's duels-won percentage is dreadfully low — they've won only 46 percent, which ties them at the bottom of the league with three other sides. But as we dig in a little more, those sides are New England Revolution, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Houston Dynamo. So that's two clubs — New England and Vancouver — who are doing quite well, and two who aren't doing quite as well.

Chances created per game

This is where RSL really takes a dip. The league leaders, Columbus Crew, have created 13 chances per game — that's a shot taken after a pass, whether a goal comes or not. It's not a perfect way to describe a team's attacking prowess, but it's a start.

RSL has created 5.9 chances per game. That's not particularly good. While that's improving, RSL still isn't creating that many chances per game — but is that acceptable if the team is scoring and limiting their opponent's chances?

Shots per game

Just like chances, shots have not been a strong point of Real Salt Lake. They're bottom of the league with 8.8, but they have a respectable 46 percent accuracy with their shots. (Sounders have a somewhat insane 65 percent shot accuracy, which scares me.)

Passing game begone

Like most of these other stats we're used to leading in, our passes haven't been particularly numerous in 2015. RSL has has 344 passes per game — well below the 456 passes per game of NYCFC. This one's clearly not a results-correlated measure, but it is interesting to see the purposeful quality of Kreis's side. Maybe, however, they're focusing too much on possession and not enough on actually winning matches. Sound like a familiar criticism of Jason Kreis? Maybe it should.