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Kyle Beckerman has committed the most fouls in MLS history, but what's the real story?


MLS just released a video in which various players and coaches try to guess who has committed the most fouls in league history.

Unsurprisingly, it's the one and only Kyle Beckerman - in 325 games, he's committed 492 fouls and received 72 yellow cards. Obviously enough, this has much to do with his position and tactical outlay, as well as the length of time he's spent in the game.

2013 was interesting for this though - Beckerman doesn't even clock in anywhere near the top of the fouls committed last season, falling outside of the top 100 on that mark. For 2012, he's inside the top 10, but he's only just inside the top 50 for 2011, and he's actually outside the top 50 in 2010. Only three seasons see him in the top 10, even - 2004, 2005, and 2012.

Is longevity the sole reason Beckerman clocks in at the top? His career has not shown him to be a particularly foul-heavy player - such is the intelligence of his play that given his position, he's not forced into foolhardy fouls.

Let's take a look at a different metric, then - because a pure fouls-committed number doesn't really tell anything of a story. I've taken the 100 players who have made the most fouls in MLS history and broken their fouls out by both fouls committed per game played and minutes played per foul committed.

The player who has committed the most fouls given playing time? None other than Alan Gordon, who needs only 29.49 minutes per foul - he's the 44th highest ranked by number of fouls committed. Below him is Simo Valakari, a three-year player at Dallas (he played for both the Burn and FC varietals) who committed at least two fouls per game each season. (A remarkable feat, really.)

In the following chart, the size of the box is related to fouls committed; the intensity of the color relates to the minutes per foul committed. You'll see Kyle Beckerman at the top-left, but explore the chart and you'll see things aren't as clear cut as you might think.