Stats CITY: A First Half Analysis
Welcome to Stats CITY. In this semi-regular article series, I will be analyzing what the statistics say about the performance of the St. Louis CITY SC Academy teams, along with the upcoming LDL team (as MLS launches its third-division developmental league next year), and the MLS team when it arrives in 2023.
With the conclusion of the fall schedule for both the U16 and U17 teams, I believe right now would be a prudent time to do an analysis of the stats so far.
With seven league matches completed for the U16s and eleven remaining in the spring, they are not quite halfway through the season. The U17 team, conversely, have completed more than half of their league matches in the fall schedule with fifteen played and nine remaining in the spring.
So, let's see what the stats show us as we head into the holiday season...
The CITY SC Academy teams compete in the MLS Next competition, which is comprised of MLS-affiliated academies along with independent teams, and CITY's U16 team played all of their league matches against non-affiliated clubs. They finished the fall with a 6-1-0 record for a total of 18 points in league play.
As can be seen in the chart below, the offense was actually better on the road, with an average of 5.33 goals per game compared to 3.00 goals per game at home. The defense gave up more goals on the road, but all five were in a derby match against St. Louis Scott Gallagher, and the teams maintained clean sheets in both of their other road games against Shattuck St. Mary's from Minnesota (2-0) and Michigan Wolves (3-0).
The team scored two or more goals in every match except a 1-0 victory against the Indiana Fire Academy, with their biggest win thus far an 11-0 victory against Midwest United (Grand Rapids) Academy. In totality, they have been completely dominant against their non-MLS counterparts, finishing the first half of the season with a +21 goal differential, averaging 4.00 goals per game with only 1.00 average goals against.
The U16 team also played five friendly matches against MLS-affiliated teams (Chicago Fire, Sporting Kansas City, Austin FC, FC Cincinnati, and Columbus Crew). Their one home friendly at Creve Coeur Park Soccer Complex was a commanding win against Austin FC. Their road games included two clean sheets against the Chicago Fire (2-0) and Columbus Crew (4-0), and three of the four goals against them on the road were scored by an FC Cincinnati team from an age group one to two years older. In all, the team played strong and had a +8 goal differential in these five matches.
Overall for the fall, the U16s played twelve matches (five home, seven road), not including a friendly match against St. Louis Maritsa that featured an opponent fielding multiple players over twenty years old. With a total of 42 goals scored while only giving up thirteen against all teams at or close to their own age group, the +29 goal differential demonstrates exactly how dominant this team was, for a quite impressive first half of their inaugural season.
All fifteen of the U17 matches of the first half were league matches, earning a 7-4-4 record and picking up 25 points in league play. Six of those matches were played against non-MLS affiliated academies. In the three on their home field in Creve Coeur, they did very well, scoring fourteen goals while only giving up three. These matches included a dominant 8-1 win against Shattuck St. Mary's (Minnesota) in their first-ever match in front of home fans, along with a clean sheet against Varder (Michigan), a match in which they came away with a 4-0 victory, and a tightly contested 2-2 draw against the Michigan Wolves.
The road matches included a commanding victory in a derby match against St. Louis Scott Gallagher along with two other much tighter results. In total, their +14 goal differential against these clubs, with their average of 4.17 goals per game compared to 1.83 goals against, shows that they were strong overall.
The U17s were also strong at home against MLS-affiliated academies, displaying an attacking mindset while still playing a strong defensive game as they scored seventeen goals in four games while giving up six. Their most dominant performance was an 8-0 victory against Minnesota United in their final match of the fall, but this wasn't the only notable result. They picked up victories against Austin FC (4-3) and FC Dallas (4-2), and one of their most impressive matches came in their 1-1 draw against a very strong Sporting Kansas City team. On the road, there was room for improvement, but the team played well, and, with the exception of a 5-1 loss to Kansas City, the results were close, leaving CITY's U17s with a 4-2-3 record overall against their MLS Academy counterparts.
In total, against all the MLS Next clubs, the numbers illustrate that the U17s posted strong home performances and tightly contested road performances. At home they were very impressive, with an undefeated 5-0-2 record, scoring 31 goals while only giving up nine for a +22 goal differential, averaging 4.43 goals in those home matches and only 1.29 goals against. Overall, home and away, the U17s scored 51 goals in their fifteen games, an average of 3.40 goals per game, with a +20 goal differential, numbers that clearly represent the team's attacking style.
Over the fall portion of their inaugural season, St. Louis CITY SC Academy teams focused on an attacking style of play, as shown by the incredible 93 goals scored in 27 matches combined. The U16s and U17s together scored an average of 3.44 goals per game while allowing 1.62 goals against, a +49 goal differential. Given those results, the fall can only be seen as a huge success, and fans should be excited to see what the spring portion of the schedule brings.
By Keith Smith