VANCOUVER, BC – The first half of the 2014 Major League Soccer season is officially in the books for Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who hit the midway point in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Chivas USA.
After 17 matches, the ‘Caps occupy the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 25 points and a 6W-4L-7D record – though it should be noted that Vancouver has at least a game in hand over each of the four teams above them.
Here are some of the numbers behind Whitecaps FC’s first half of the season.
The ‘Caps are currently third in all of MLS with 1.59 goals per game – they trail only current Supporters Shield frontrunners Seattle Sounders FC and defending Supporters Shield winners New York Red Bulls.
First-year Designated Player Pedro Morales leads Whitecaps FC with six goals, but the ‘Caps have had 10 different goalscorers. Only one team has more goalscorers this season.
Also of note, Whitecaps FC top MLS with eight goals from outside the box (Sebastian Fernandez has scored three of them).
Speaking of Morales, the Chilean is also fourth in the league with 46 chances created – defined as a pass, cross, or throughball instrumental in creating a goal-scoring opportunity. The three players ahead of him are Javier Morales, Diego Valeri, and Federico Higuain.
Based on this statistic, it should come as no surprise that Morales has a team-high seven assists – just two behind league-leader Thierry Henry.
No first-year player in MLS has figured in the scoring more than Morales, who also leads the league with 201 passes into the final third.
Another Whitecaps FC newcomer who has impressed in the first half of the season is Matias Laba. The Argentine midfielder leads all of MLS with 87 tackles.
That’s an impressive stat in itself, but even more so when you consider that the ‘Caps regained possession as a result of 73 of those tackles – also a league-high.
There’s been a lot of talk from Whitecaps FC coaches and players in recent weeks about the importance of pressing and winning the ball back when they lose it – something Laba has clearly done a lot of this season.
When Carl Robinson was named Whitecaps FC head coach, he made it clear that his team would be a possession-oriented side that moves the ball. And that playing style has been evident.
Not only are the ‘Caps averaging 341.35 successful passes per match (over 50 more successful passes per game than last season), they’re also fourth in the league with an 80.49 per cent passing completion rate.
Canadian midfielder Russell Teibert, who recently agreed to a multi-year extension, leads Whitecaps FC with an 88.15 competition rate. That’s good enough for seventh-best in MLS among players who have completed at least 100 passes.
At the start of the year, Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted admitted that one thing he wanted to improve upon was dealing with crosses and commanding his box. It’s safe to say he’s done that: the Danish shot-stopper is second in MLS with 27 catches.
That's one way you can describe Steven Beitashour. He isn't the flashiest of players, but he has become one of Vancouver's most reliable defenders this season.
Case in point, Beitashour has won 67.42 per cent of his 50-50 contests (also known as a "duel") this season, which is second best in MLS among players who have been involved in at least 30 duels.
Statistics courtesy of Opta Sports.
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including prorated season tickets, 5-packs, student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.