Show Down: Juan Agudelo vs. Diego Fagundez

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
Fagundez 2419 13 43 0.30 27
Agudelo 1019 7 17 0.41 4

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
Fagundez 2419 22.17 2.08 10.65 14m 0.86 1.71
Agudelo 1019 28.52 3 9.51 13m 0.53 2.91

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.

Mins Fouls Cards Tackles Blocks Interceptions Clearances
Fagundez 2419 0.81 3 1.3 0.11 0.74 0.33
Agudelo 1019 3.53 2 1.4 0.09 0.35 0.71

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.

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A Short Exercise in the Power of a Player: Mike Magee and Juan Agudelo Observed

I asked the question on Twitter, “how many teams have been better than Chicago since the arrival of Mike Magee?” Let’s take a look at the results of games played since the acquisition of Magee on May 24th.

PPG-sinceMay24

I think we knew that the Fire have been good since the arrival of Magee, but just how good is pretty surprising. Adding to the surprise are both the Whitecaps and Revolution with 1.6 points per game.  Looking to the bottom of the table we see how far FC Dallas has dropped since their hot start to the season.

I know that we all like to think that the results in March and April are vital, and to a degree they are—there is no way that FC Dallas is even considering a run at the playoffs if it wasn’t for how they performed in Mar/Apr—however, the season is long; there are nearly 8 months and 34 games.

For now anyway…

I’ve long been of the belief that one player in soccer doesn’t make that big of a difference on an entire season and it’s table location. Sure, maybe Clint Dempsey takes Seattle from being an injury prone playoff-ish team to a contender for the Supporters Shield. But Chicago was, and is now, much better. Along with Chicago, New England’s performance needs mention too.

Currently, the minute men have 17 points through 8 matches with Juan Agudelo in the line-up. Something pointed out to me by the folks over at Deep in the Fort.  It’s also a conclusion that makes me question how much that’s true and how much a really good player can impact a season for a club.

Obviously it needs a much closer observance than a single table of points over a time period. There are other factors to consider with both clubs. Regression, sample size, ect. But there is enough there to at least consider further research into the thought that some players can mean big things for the right club.

ASA Podcast: Episode VI

Everyone, here we are with American Soccer Analysis Podcast Episode 6! We talk about Juan Agudelo, shots and finishing (skill vs. “luck”), grass pitches vs. artificial turf, Kei Kamara and his return to KC, and then some about bowel movements. LISTEN NOW!!!

New England Revolution acquires Juan Agudelo: What does that mean?

First things first before I make fun of the Revolution (and I will).  Their defense has been—excluding the New York outlier—borderline elite this season. That’s possibly one of the few reasons they’re still afloat and maybe the only reason to watch them (sorry, Lee Nguyen).

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