Data scouting: on the hunt for the best wingers in MLS 2020

So, the reason why I started this blog was to write articles about the beautiful game from a technical side; looking at data, scouting, coaching and tactical analysis. My second objective was to expand my knowledge in data scouting beyond Europe. I’ve realised I haven’t too much with it until know, but this article will look at what the best best wingers are/have been in the 2020 MLS season according to the data.

The data I’m using for this analysis is provided by Wyscout and in their database I’ve been looking for the best winger in each metric – which I will mention below. I’m looking at a data set of 30 wingers as we are looking specifically for the best winger and not the best attacker with winger qualities.

In this article I will look at the following metrics:

  • Goal threat
  • Crossing
  • Dribbling

The idea is to assess how well the data was in the 2020 season and whether we need to look at a few good players in the coming MLS season AND to scout a few players who are ready for a move into another league.

Goals and assists

First I will look at the attacking numbers as wingers are often involved with goalscoring or creating the goalscoring opportunities. In the image above you can see the expected assists vs the actual assists in this 2020 season in the MLS. A few players really stand out in this metric: Rodriguez with 0,34 assists per 90, Espinoza with 0,33 assists per 90 and Mihailovic with 0,38 assists per 90. A special focus should be on Quintero, as he created the highest xA of the bunch with 0,36 xA per 90.

In the image below I had a look at the goals scored by the wingers.

If we look at the expected goals per 90 and the goals per 90, there are two players really standing out. Molino with 0,36 xG and 0,66 goals per 90, and Rossi with 0,59 xG and 0,7 goals per 90. These two really stand out and all are slightly overperforming their xG: converting those chances into goals more than the chances would suggest.

Crossing

An important part of a winger’s arsenal is the ability to cross. It definitely depends on the playing styles opted by the club, but when you have attackers or attacking midfielders who play wide, crosses are important. The ability to whip in a cross from the flanks to the players in and around the box, can great a lot of danger from the attacking side.

In the image above you can see who has the most crosses per 90 and the most successful crosses. In the amount of crosses we can Morgan with 6,38 crosses per 90 with an accuracy of 33,12%, Barrios with 4,77 crosses per 90 and 37,37% accuracy, and Espinoza with 4,7 crosses per 90 and 24,56% accuracy – in the top-3. Medina and Ring have the highest accuracy, but they have fewer than 1,5 crosses per game – which makes the accuracy less impressive.

Dribbles

Another important metric to look at is dribbling. The ability to dribble and have a go at your direct opponent, is important for a winger as well. How well does he perform in the 1v1s? These can be partly read in the dribbles data as portrayed above. We can see Mihailovic and Morris with the highest accuracy, but that’s not the most relevant thing about this image. I want to look at the player that make the most dribbles per 90 and have a high accuracy while doing that.

Diaz has 6,28 dribbles per 90 with 60% accuracy, Morgan has 6,67 dribbles per 90 with 59,63 accuracy, Russel has 7,38 dribbles per 90 with 57,23% accuracy, and Pavon has 9,92 dribbles per 90 with 58,26% accuracy. Those four players perform the best in this specific dribbles metric.

Shortlist
I’ve only looked at specific metrics, but I decided to look closer at the following players as I thought they are standing out and will prove to be valuable assets to teams:
– Cristan Pavon – was on loan from Boca Juniors at LA Galaxy
– Lewis Morgan – Inter Miami FC
– Diego Rossi – Los Angeles FC

The next step is to look at these 3 players in different games and follow them via video scouting.

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