We like raw numbers around these parts. The lowest common denominator the better. But we like numbers in general, it’s as if we are… kind of involved. There isn’t much in the way of discrimination. You can take Numbers, and they can tell a story. Numbers can be just as biased as any news reporter or general fan too. They can also help give us insight to a specific question that we may have.
A popular question around these parts is simply: why is Montreal so good? A club racing towards an opportunity for Supporting Shield. They sit 4th in the table with 26 points, two points behind the leading FC Dallas and have atleast two games in hand against all clubs above them in the standings. Obviously, they are in very good shape with a chance to run away this season with hardware. So how are they doing it?
Well, the one specific point of contention for us is their shooting. Currently the Impact are 5th in the league in shots on target per match and even further down the pipe at 14th with total shots attempted per match. So the question then becomes, how have they scored 1.69 goals a game, good for best in all of MLS?
They’re shooting the lights out. Well, sort of. The ball is ending up in the back of the net at unusually high rates. Matthias and I have pretty much just summed this up to being an irregularity, an outlier, and one that will eventually see the Impact coming back down to earth.
And yet, they haven’t.
Montreal have the highest goal scoring rate in the league, yet have the same goal differential as the New England Revolution that sit 11th in the Supporter Shield table. 6 of their 8 wins have been by won by a single goal margin. Which tell us they’ve been strong in holding their leads.
It’s obviously something that could and likely will involve a much further investigation as time permits. But I did formulate some interesting enough thoughts while digging through Whoscored.com and Squawka data.
A good 80% of the goals are in high percentage conversation locations on the frame. Predominately low and presumably away from the keeper. You can see that trend continues with their overall shot selection.
The majority of their shots are all, again, in great places with one third of the total shots in the lower half of the frame.
I’m not at this point sold that the Impact are going to come back down to earth with their conversion ratio. It’s not so much that they are taking shots, but the type of shots they are taking. Marco Di Vaio is 36 and with that comes experience and intelligence.
He understands what he’s doing. I believe that his effort to place high percentage shots is not only a skill; it’s purposeful, and it’s a game plan.
I’m not sure if they can continue to win in their +1 goal states, but their defence* has been very good thus far. It’s possible, considering their current form, that they have a legit shot at the Supporter Shield at year’s end.
Then again, we just may have to dig deeper into this.**
*Editor’s note: Harrison is turning Redcoat on us.
**Editor’s note: We will.