Monday, February 20, 2012

Defensive unit

Choosing your defenders and keepers is a bit of a different strategy than picking our forwards and midfielders. You aren't picking an individual player. Rather you are picking the team's defense. Ultimately, clean sheets are what we're after from our defenses. So, here is the goals conceded and clean sheets from 2011:



TeamClean sheetsGoals conceded
LA1628
RSL1436
FCD1339
New York1144
Philadelphia1036
Columbus1044
Seattle937
Chivas943
Portland948
Kansas City840
Colorado841
Chicago845
DCU852
San Jose745
TFC759
Houston641
Vancouver555
New England558

Key losses
We have 7 defensive slots to use. Of the top 7 teams to keep the most clean sheets, several have made some serious changes or have big injuries that should reduce their value.

LA - Lost defender of the year Omar Gonzalez. With their increased fire-power upfront, I expect teams to try to play more defensively against the Galaxy in LA. I rate them as the best team to have at the start of the season.

RSL - There are way too many injuries in Salt Lake to make them serious options for the first couple gameweeks. Once they get their outside backs fit, they'll be a fantastic bet.

New York - Lost Ream and all of their goalkeepers. So much turnover makes me hesitate.

Philadelphia - Lost Mondragon who was a key part in organizing the back. McMath simply doesn't have the experience, though the rest of the line has another year under their belt.

Seattle - The loss of Keller is huge for Seattle. He had the most saves out of anyone last year. Mostly because the defense was rather porous and allowed so many shots. Gonzalez is a better defensive player than Wahl was and hopes are Johansson is an upgrade over Riley. If I had to pick a player from Seattle's defensive unit, it would be Gspurning since he'll also pick up save points.

Playing the fixtures
Defensive rotation based on opponent and home/away status is a lot more important for our defensive unit. Teams are a lot more likely to keep clean sheets at home than they are away. You should almost always pick a defender playing at home rather than one playing away. There will obviously be some exceptions, but it's a good general rule to follow. Because of this, we should save our money in the defensive unit since we will be rotating them more than our attacking players.

Though I wasn't readily able to find home/away clean sheets (maybe an update in the future?), I have sorted the teams by goals allowed home vs. away, with home goals allowed being the most important:


HomeTeamAway
0.47LA1.18
0.65FCD1.65
0.88RSL1.24
0.94Kansas City1.41
0.94Colorado1.47
1.00New York1.59
1.00Chivas1.53
1.06Columbus1.53
1.06Philadelphia1.06
1.12Chicago1.53
1.12San Jose1.53
1.18Houston1.24
1.18Seattle1.00
1.24TFC2.24
1.29Portland1.53
1.41New England2.00
1.41Vancouver1.82
1.59DCU1.47

Many of the same teams are ranked near the top. These are the teams we should be focusing on for our defensive unit.

Attacking defenders
Defenders still earn points for their attacking returns. Finding the most attacking player in a defensive unit should result in the most points from that unit, assuming all defenders play the same amount of time. Here is a ranking of defenders based on minutes per goals+assists:



RankPlayerTeamM/(G+A)G+A
1DunfieldVancouver232.04
2BeitashourSan Jose236.47
3CameronHouston297.010
4HarveyVancouver314.34
5PearceChivas319.33
6SolliNew York377.67
7BoswellHouston410.06
8ChabalaPortland481.03
9LoydDallas483.25
10CesarSKC537.34
11GibbsChicago550.84
12BurchSeattle558.52
13MoorColorado576.05
14SegaresChicago590.05
15RochatVancouver608.54
16FreemanHouston636.33
17CollinSKC637.33
18CorralesSan Jose638.04
19WilliamsDCU656.73
20Futty Portland666.33
21UhemeluDallas681.54
22JohnDallas695.34
23BrunnerPortland698.84
24WilliamsPhiladelphia707.04
25OlaveRSL709.33
26DunivantLA720.04
27BeslerSKC720.04
28CochraneNew England739.02
29SchulerRSL819.02
30AnibabaChicago836.03
31MirandaColumbus1014.73
32WynneColorado1265.02
33ValdesPhiladelphia1440.02
34KimuraColorado1498.02
35SoaresNew England2464.01
36JamesColumbus2790.01
37AlstonNew England2954.01

Goalkeepers
Selecting a keeper is essentially the same as picking a defender, without focusing on attacking returns. We want to focus mostly on clean sheets, but keep an eye on saves.

Saunders is my number 1 keeper choice. He may not make my team due to the limit of only having 3 players per team.

I also have Gspurning penciled in. This is mostly because I had to save some money somewhere and keepers and defenders are the safest place to do that. Seattle should be slightly better defensively (in terms of shots allowed) but I expect fewer saves and about the same number of clean sheets.

The eastern conference appears to be weaker than the west, but there also doesn't appear to be any elite defenses in the east this year. Hesmer and Hall are probably your best bets in the east, with Hesmer being my choice of the two.

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