PORTLAND, OREGON – Goals and assists rarely tell the whole story.
That is especially true when talking about defensive players, such as Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s newest midfielder Matias Laba.
With some help from Opta, we took a closer look at some of the more obscure numbers behind Laba’s first season in Major League Soccer to help give you an idea of what type of player he is.
The average number of tackles Laba won per game in 2013, which was the highest in the league among players who made at least 15 appearances. As Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson stated, Laba is a “hard, aggressive player who brings a lot of energy to the pitch.” He wasn’t kidding. Despite his aggresiveness, Laba only averaged 1.19 fouls per game, which was nowhere near the top of the charts.
That’s where Laba came in on the league’s annual 24 under 24 list. At the time, MLSsoccer.com wrote: “It speaks volumes of Laba’s ability that he finds himself on this list despite only recently arriving in MLS.”
The average number of interceptions Laba made per game, which was fourth in the league among midfielders with at least 15 appearances. For this category, Laba came in slightly ahead of holding midfielders Kyle Beckerman and Osvaldo Alonso.
The average number of successful passes Laba made per game – the only Whitecaps FC player who averaged more successful passes per game in 2013 was Nigel Reo-Coker (39.47). About 55 per cent of Laba’s successful passes came in the opponent’s half, which illustrates his willingness to move up the park and join the attack. Also of note, Laba's passing completion percentage came in at 82.11 per cent.
At just 22 years old, Laba has already appeared in 88 professional matches between the Primera Division, the top division of soccer in Argentina, and MLS. Last season, Laba started each of his 16 appearances with Toronto FC and was widely considered to be one of the team’s bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season.
* Statistics courtesy of Opta Sports.
Whitecaps FC begin their 2014 MLS season on March 8 versus New York Red Bulls at BC Place. Season tickets start at just $349 and single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. The 'Caps also offer a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets ($199), and a youth soccer half-season ticket ($100). For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.