During our podcast on Thursday night, a short side conversation was sparked between Drew and me. Who would you take in a situation where you are starting a new team: Juan Agudelo or Diego Fagundez. While the question and how it’s presented matters (i.e. how many years of control do you have, salary cap situation, blah, blah, blah) because it gives us context, let’s not go there. The discussion here is more about the general response. We’ve all, myself included, just generally assumed that the answer to any question between the two is: “Agudelo now, Fagundez later”. But what makes us think that Fagundez isn’t the better option right now?
While doing our podcast I generally have between 9 and 15 browser tabs open with general bits of information. I’m sure my wife would argue that it’s more like 50. Whatever. It’s a lot. During that point in the podcast, I had Squawka up and quoted a total performance score of 452 for Fagundez, as opposed to Juan Agudelo and his shockingly low score of only 57.
So, the response then transforms itself from the answer that we thought we were sure of, to understanding what exactly Agudelo has done over the course of the season. Trust me, I get that numbers, especially in soccer, can’t tell an entire story. But they can help see us things that our brains don’t naturally keep track of.
Agudelo, in my mind, is a special case of a lot of talent doing one specific thing and being credited for far more than perhaps initially thought. I know the other side of that argument stresses his physical traits and goal-scoring ability. Sure, those are two HUGE things when it comes to this game. Speed kills and Agudelo knows how to turn it on.
Let’s take a look below.
|Mins||Goals||Shots||Goals pSh||Chances Created|
First, we can see one thing. And it’s quiet amazing. Together, the two players produced 20 goals on 60 shots. Take a second to think about that because that’s major. The Revolution took 37 shots and scored just one goal over their first five matches of the season. These guys get thrown into the line-up and procure 20 goals on just 60 shots. That’s special.
Second, what is most obviously the difference between the two is the number of chances created. You’ll see in a second that Agudelo still made a fine amount of passes. The issue isn’t that he’s a ball hog, or that he just wants the chances for himself. The problem is those passes did not become chances on goal. You’d hope that a guy who gets plenty of attention from the defense has the ability to find open teammates that can create goals.
|Mins||Pass p90||TO p90||Pass pTO||Avg Length||Dribbles||DisPos per 90|
Alright, onto the possession-based stuff. There are some interesting thoughts here. Such as Agudelo taking less dribbles, making shorter passes, and making more of them. It’s not something that I would have generally have thought of about him. I think of an individual who is looking to constantly run at defenders, but maybe that isn’t the whole picture. That said, he’s still losing the ball quiet a bit, and while Fagundez doesn’t make as many passes, he’s less error-prone and creates more pockets of space up the field with the ball at his feet.
The biggest number that stands out to me on this page is the number of fouls committed per 90 minutes by Agudelo. There is no way he makes that many fouls and continues to only pull about 6 cards over the course of a full season. That’s impossible. Outside of that, you see that each of these players is rather close to one another. One is a bit more on top of clearances while the other interceptions.
Really, that’s probably due to two random factors. 1) Agudelo is in the middle of the box more often for corner kicks, and 2) Fagundez works in the midfield where errant passes are more probable.
It’s important to realize these players aren’t like for like. Trying to compare them as apples to apples isn’t going to work and makes this work less productive. I am willing to acknowledge that. Agudelo did have some opportunities in the midfield this season, however, he was primarily featured up top in the striker role. Likewise, Fagundez had some exciting moments playing center forward, but was primarily used out wide as a left midfielder.
Because they don’t occupy the same space, certain statistical attributes that we associate with these players are going to be either more or less inflated. They have different responsibilities so they aren’t going to be the same player statistically. We don’t have a “Wins Above Replacement” calculator, as awesome as that would be.
There is no key that unlocks all events and makes them equal, as if to say this player is better than that player, regardless of position or team. Maybe this post was a complete waste because we should be comparing these two teammates to the rest of the league, rather than to each other. What I do know is that Fagundez is less a player of the future and more of an MLS standout now, but when Agudelo leaves for Stoke, he is still going to be missed by the Revs.