NYCFC Wingers: How do They Stack Up Against the Rest of MLS?

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - April 12: Jack Harrison #11 of New York City FC is congratulated by Rodney Wallace #23 of New York City FC after scoring during the New York City FC Vs San Jose Earthquakes regular season MLS game at Yankee Stadium on April 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Earlier this week, I analyzed five key statistics from New York City FC’s victory. One key to their victory was the play of the wingers: Jack Harrison and Rodney Wallace. The wingers have helped fill the hole left by Frank Lampard. This has been a key to most of NYCFC’s victories this year. So, I decided to analyze NYCFC’s wingers against the rest of the league’s wingers. A winger is a two-way player with defensive responsibilities.

NYCFC Wingers: How do They Stack Up Against the Rest of MLS?

While the MLS season hasn’t been going on for too long, about 20 percent of the regular season games have gone by. This sample size is large enough to make comparisons, but with a little bit of caution. In order to compare the wingers I used two statistics: offensive actions and defensive actions. Offensive actions are the total successful dribbles, key passes, and shots completed this season. Defensive actions are the total successful tackles, interceptions, clearances, and blocked shots this season. I converted the statistics to per 90 minutes to eliminate the bias created by not all wingers playing the same number of minutes. All the players analyzed also had to play 200 minutes. This left 45 wingers to analyze. These two statistics give a good idea of how well the two-way wingers NYCFC uses are doing. (All raw data statistics from WhoScored)

NYCFC’s Wingers

(The lower the ranking, the stronger the team)

When combining offense and defense, NYCFC have the third best winger combination out of 21 teams. Offensively, NYCFC has the sixth best combination. Defensively, NYCFC has the fourth best combination. The two teams ranked higher than NYCFC, LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City, have a Designated Player winger on their senior roster, Romain Alessandrini and Gerso Fernandes respectively. Rodney Wallace is on the senior roster, but not using Targeted Allocation Money or a DP slot, while Jack Harrison is on a generation Adidas deal. NYCFC are eight points behind LA Galaxy, and 7.5 behind SKC.

Rodney Wallace

Rodney Wallace has a higher combined ranking than Jack Harrison. Offensively, he is ranked 26th, while defensively he is ranked fourth. Wallace’s defensive strength make sense because he can play left back. Only Rasmus Schuller, Medranda and Kelyn Rowe are ranked higher, by 1.23-2 defensive actions per 90. However, Schuller has played on 231 minutes, compared to Wallace’s to 454. This discrepancy isn’t huge, but could play an effect on Schuller’s stats. The areas Wallace struggles with offensively are successful dribbles. He completes one less per 90 than the average. This struggle may be because Ronald Matarrita often overlaps. If he could improve in one area, it would be successful dribbles.

Jack Harrison

Harrison is ranked 11th offensively and 22nd defensively.  In comparison offensively, Nicolas Lodeiro is ranked tenth, while Alberth Ellis is ranked 12th. Lodeiro signed with Seattle as a designated player. The one area Harrison could improve is key passes per 90, as he is below average right now. He could improve key passes by serving more accurate crosses. In comparison defensively, Lloyd Sam is ranked 21st, while Alphonso Davies is ranked 23rd. One area Harrison could improve defensively is interceptions, as he is .7 below the average.

Final Thoughts

Clearly, NYCFC has two strong wingers that have helped propel them to fourth in the table. If the wingers continue this output, they will be tough for teams to beat. The development of Wallace and Harrison makes teams unable to solely focus on David Villa. This opens up the entire attack, they just need to keep up these performances.

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