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[Results Added] What style of forward does RSL need?

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Take a look at heat maps for the five top scorers in 2018 and pick your favorite.

MLS: Western Conference Semifinal-Real Salt Lake at Sporting KC William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

For those of you who may not have completely figured it out by now, I love defense. I go to matches to watch defenders and my favorite conversations with my fellow fans, in the stands and out, is about defensive shape and styles. A hard fought draw, where both team threaten and perhaps get even snag a goal or two, is my ideal. A 3-0 match, even if Real Salt Lake are on top, leaves me wondering what went wrong and what could have been done to change it.

However, many other fans, including many with seats near mine, go to see goals scored. At the request of several of my stadium friends here are the 2018 season heats maps from our most frequent top three. Corey Baird on top, Joao Plata in the middle and Jefferson Savarino on bottom.

Corey Baird - 2018 heat map
SofaScore.com
Joao Plata - 2018 heat map
SofaScore.com
Jefferson Savarino - 2018 heat map
SofaScore.com

Notice that Corey Baird, the 2018 Rookie of the Year in MLS, has almost no red on his heat map. Young legs and very active all over the field. Meanwhile, Plata and Savarino play their sides a little differently. Savarino is much more likely to take a ball up into the offensive corner and spent more time in the box. Plata is much more constant in his positioning with a huge contiguous red area and plays further out into the center of the pitch.

With those types of thoughts in mind, here are today’s heat map polls. Five 2018 season heat maps, labeled A to E, are displayed below. Each represents one of the top five scorers from this season. Each scored 19 goals or more during the season, a standard no RSL player has even achieved, yet their heat maps look quite different.

Your task is to identify the owner of each of the heat maps and then I also include a question about which of the players you think has the best style. Judging from heat maps alone, which would mesh best with the offensive style and players of Real Salt Lake?

image A
SofaScore.com

[Bradley Wright-Phillips] Image A is the 2018 heat map for Bradley Wright-Philips of New York Red Bull. Prefers the right side but pretty much covers the offensive side of the field. Favorite position in the box is right around the penalty spot. Very little time spent in defensive coverage. Wright-Phillips averaged 1.9 shots per game and had 11 misses on big chances.

Poll

Which player is represented by Image A?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Josef Martinez
    (30 votes)
  • 22%
    Zlatan Ibrahimovic
    (35 votes)
  • 19%
    Bradley Wright-Phillips
    (30 votes)
  • 14%
    Mauro Manotas
    (22 votes)
  • 24%
    Gyasi Zardes
    (37 votes)
154 votes total Vote Now
Image B
SofaScore.com

[Zlatan Ibrahimovic] Image B is the 2018 heat map for Zlatan Ibrahimovic of LA Galaxy. Himself tends to blanket the middle of the the offensive midfield. In the box it is both corners and straight on with a slight tendency to the left side of the box. He also regularly lines up on defensive set pieces where his size is a benefit and is typically positioned to the left of the goalkeeper. Ibrahimovic averaged 3.5 shots per game and missed on 10 big chances.

Poll

Which player is represented by Image B?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Josef Martinez
    (48 votes)
  • 29%
    Zlatan Ibrahimovic
    (43 votes)
  • 18%
    Bradley Wright-Phillips
    (26 votes)
  • 10%
    Mauro Manotas
    (15 votes)
  • 8%
    Gyassi Zardes
    (12 votes)
144 votes total Vote Now
Image C
SofaScore.com

[Mauro Manotas] Image C is the 2018 heat map for Mauro Manotas of Hpuston Dynamo. Looking at this heat it is somewhat hard to believe he scored the number of goals he did. No real strong concentrations of position which conversely means it is somewhat difficult to defend against him. Mauro regularly also comes back to defend on defensive set pieces. Manotas averaged 2.3 shots per game and missed on 9 big chances.

Poll

Which player is represented by Image C?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Josef Martinez
    (15 votes)
  • 13%
    Zlatan Ibrahimovic
    (18 votes)
  • 18%
    Bradley Wright-Phillips
    (25 votes)
  • 32%
    Mauro Manotas
    (45 votes)
  • 24%
    Gyassi Zardes
    (34 votes)
137 votes total Vote Now
Image D
SofaScore.com

[Josef Martinez] Image D is the 2018 heat map for Josef Martinez of Atlanta United. Martinez loves being front and center in the box but also spends more time back over the center line than nearly all of the others displayed. He is the archtypical center forward moving in a relatively narrow area up and down the field. Martinez averaged 2.5 shots per game and missed on 25 big chances or about double the others listed.

Poll

Which player is represented by Image D?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Josef Martinez
    (26 votes)
  • 35%
    Zlatan Ibrahimovic
    (48 votes)
  • 23%
    Bradley Wright-Phillips
    (32 votes)
  • 10%
    Mauro Manotas
    (15 votes)
  • 11%
    Gyassi Zardes
    (16 votes)
137 votes total Vote Now
Image E
SofaScore.com

[Gyassi Zardes] Image E is the 2018 heat map for Gyassi Zardes of Columbus Crew. Zardes is another who likes to be right up and center and is perhaps the farthest advanced in the box of all thoss listed. Outside of the box he prefers the left side and shows his history as a winger. Like Ibrahimovic he appears to also have a set role in defensive set pieces. Zardez averaged 2.2 shots per game and missed on 22 big chances to join Martinez at the top of that stat.

Poll

Which player is represented by Image E

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Josef Martinez
    (24 votes)
  • 21%
    Zlatan Ibarhimovic
    (29 votes)
  • 18%
    Bradley Wright-Phillips
    (24 votes)
  • 20%
    Mauro Manotas
    (27 votes)
  • 21%
    Gyassi Zardes
    (29 votes)
133 votes total Vote Now

Once again, judging them only by their heat maps, which do you believe would be the best match for the current configuration and offensive style of Real Salt Lake?

Poll

Which of these five would you consider the best fit for RSL?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Image A
    (6 votes)
  • 33%
    Image B
    (50 votes)
  • 6%
    Image C
    (9 votes)
  • 25%
    Image D
    (38 votes)
  • 9%
    Image E
    (14 votes)
  • 21%
    Who cares if he scores lots of goals
    (32 votes)
149 votes total Vote Now

Hope this was a fun way for you to spend a few minutes and to fill the time as we wait to get back out to the stadium. The polls will be open till 10 PM Sunday evening.

Addendum

For those who wanted a Damir Kreilach heat map while he was playing as a forward, here is his heat map from the 01 Sep 2018 match against the LA Galaxy where he had a hat trick. As there are fewer data points the most frequent positions are the orange spots in the box, just before the center circle and on the left near midfield.

Damir Kreilach - 01 Sep 2018 - vs LA Galaxy
SofaScore.com