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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Monday, June 27, 2016

A numbers game: Measuring the loss of Vincent Nogueira

The Union are certainly different with Roland Alberg, right,
in midfield as opposed to Vincent Nogueira. Whether that's for the better
remains to be seen. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)
Let me start this with a slight mea culpa: Sunday morning, I tweeted out some stats about the Union’s defense that were slightly inaccurate. The point being illustrated remains the same, but my math needs a little refining. So here goes.

Since Vincent Nogueira played his last minute with the Philadelphia Union June 15 against Harrisburg City, the Philadelphia Union have surrendered 11 goals in three-plus games (i.e., 287 minutes, since Nogueira was subbed off in the 73rd). That’s an average of 3.45 goals per 90 minutes.

In the 757 minutes that Nogueira played in all competitions this season, the Union surrendered just 10 goals. That’s an alarmingly lower rate of 1.19 G/90.

That should set the record straight, but it got me wondering (with an assist from some questions on Twitter): If we look at these numbers as a barometer of Nogueira’s impact on the Union, what else can we glean from it?

Here are three things the numbers tell us:

- The Union’s struggles aren’t all about Nogueira. When Nogueira wasn’t in the lineup this season (he missed two games with an ankle injury, then three with an oblique strain), the Union allowed 17 goals in 863 minutes. That’s 1.77 G/90. Since his departure two weeks ago, the Union’s concession rate has nearly doubled. That indicates that something (likely somethings) else is in play.

- It’s not Roland Alberg’s fault. Well, not entirely. If we run the same analysis looking at the Dutch midfielder who has more or less replaced Nogueira, the correlation isn’t clear. The Union are worse defensively with Alberg, that’s for sure. They’ve allowed 14 goals in 602 minutes with him, a g/90 of 2.09. Without Alberg, the Union have allowed just 13 goals in 1,018 minutes, nearly halving the rate to 1.15.

- It’s not all that uneven. In the minutes Nogueira played this season, the Union are plus-2 on goal differential (12 scored, 10 allowed). With Alberg, the Union are plus-2 (16 scored, 14 allowed). The Union scored less but conceded less with Nogueira; with Alberg, they score more goals but also allow more goals. On each player’s account, neither is necessarily better or worse. But it is a matter of working with what the team has to be most successful.

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