Matias Laba (white) sliding tackle vs. SKC - 2015
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By the numbers: Why Laba is a special player - with or without the wonder goals

We need to talk about Matias Laba.

The Argentine midfielder made headlines on Saturday night with an absolute scorcher from long distance to help Vancouver Whitecaps FC secure an important road point at Portland Timbers.

Laba draws the game level with a long-range blast

The goal was Laba’s first for Whitecaps FC in MLS regular season action, but those who follow the team know that his contributions to the team’s success aren’t measured in goals and assists.

They’re measured in tackles.

Well, not really.

But his remarkable tackle-totals do help quantify the impact he’s made.

This season, Laba leads MLS with 101 tackles, according to Opta Sports. The next closest player has 88.

That speaks for itself, but there's more. 

Since Opta started tracking MLS in 2011, Laba has racked up 330 tackles, which is the eighth highest total. The amazing part is that Laba only joined the league in 2013 and has played just 67 games, which is at least 50 less than everybody above him on the list – as you can see below.

Osvaldo Alonso 575 135
Diego Chara 503 135
Gonzalo Segares 400 117
Juninho 394 150
Dax McCarty 380 141
Marvell Wynne 349 131
Benny Feilhaber 343 128
Matias Laba 330 67

When it comes to tackles per game, Laba tops the all-time list at 4.93. In other words, the 23-year-old is doing what no one has ever done before in MLS (at least during the Opta era).

He’s a special player – with or without the wonder goals.

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