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RSL vs. Houston: Five Quick Stats

What went wrong in Houston?

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Pablo Mastroeni earlier this week said, “stats will lose to the human spirit every day of the week.” I agree that the beautiful game is more than just stats. However, after witnessing arguably the worst loss of the season for Real Salt Lake, stats can help point out what went wrong. Here are five quick stats that I think help explain what happened.

1- It is mathematically impossible to quantify goals from shots taken. Case in point, we had 16 total shots with nine on target and five blocked. This is probably our most accurate game this season when it comes to shots. Despite that, we only scored one goal from a free kick. Houston shot 18 times with only seven on target and they scored five goals.

2- A possible contributing factor to why we were unable to score more this game comes from where we took our shots. We shot 69% of our shots outside the box and 31% inside the 15-yard box. No shots were taken inside the six-yard box. Compare that to Houston who shot 33% outside the box, 56% inside the 15-yard box and 11% inside the six-yard box.

3- We definitely out passed our opponents this game. We had 79% pass accuracy and out-passed them in total passes 328 to 417. The only type of pass we were worse at were our crosses. But another reason why Houston won was because of their key passes. A key pass, for those who don’t know, is the final pass that gives the player receiving the pass a chance at goal without scoring. Houston beat us, 17 to nine.

4- We talked about blocked shots last week and I need to again this week. We had three blocked shots this game which is respectable. The problem is that all three were in the second half. It seemed to me that after Justin Schmidt scored the own goal, our defense was much more timid during the first half, leading to them scoring two more goals before the end of the first half. The second goal is ample proof.

5- Though we beat them in possession and it often felt like we dominated possession, we were dispossessed far too often. What make it worse is that Houston is such an amazing counter attacking team. We were dispossessed 18 times to Houston’s 10 and once we were dispossessed, they transitioned so quickly that many times we found ourselves outnumbered in our third.

Those are five quick stats that I feel helped us lose the game. Yes, heart, guts, and confidence play a huge role in soccer. We only have to look at Joao Plata’s goal to see that. But I think these stats help identify several key problems that we can improve on for Dallas.