In order to help break down the Loons upcoming match against the Houston Dynamo, I’ve gone on a deep dive and unearthed some statistics that illustrate how both sides have arrived at where they currently stand. As of this article going live, Houston is third place in the Western Conference with nine points from five games. The Loons are tied for 11th in the West with just four points from six games.
We’ll kick things off today by taking a look at the Houston Dynamo first.
0 - The number of points that road teams have been able to muster against the Dynamo this season
The Dynamo have already recorded home wins this season over Seattle, Columbus, and the New York Red Bulls. Two out of the three of these wins are quite impressive as Seattle won MLS Cup last year and the Red Bulls finished the regular season atop the table in the East.
3 - The number of home wins the Dynamo have this season under Wilmer Cabrera
Houston was not a place that teams feared playing last year as the team went just 5-5-7 at home in 2016. After a disastrous 2016 campaign, newly appointed manager Wilmer Cabrera has already lead the players to three home wins in three games. Not too shabby.
4 - Assists recorded by Dynamo midfielder Alex so far in 2017
The 28-year-old Brazilian midfielder has doubled his career assist total in the five games that he’s played this season as he recorded just four assists in his 121 MLS games prior to 2017. In addition to his pinpoint long passes, Alex has shown a propensity for putting in great service on set pieces, which is something that the Loons will have to be aware of on Saturday.
6 - Total goals scored by Erick Torres in his team’s first five MLS games.
Torres appeared in 22 games, making seven starts, for the Dynamo in 2015 and 2016 and failed to tally a single goal. He’s finally regained the form that he demonstrated back in 2014 when he scored 15 goals for a Chivas squad that lost 19 games. Cubo’s versatility has been his strong point this season as he has three goals from open play, one scored via free kick, and two goals from the penalty spot. Shutting him down should be Minnesota’s top defensive priority.
9 - Goals allowed by Dynamo keeper Tyler Deric this season
Deric has played his entire career for the Houston Dynamo but has made more than 10 starts just three times in his nine-year career. He’s been tasked to be the team’s starting backstop this season after Joe Willis failed to impress last season. The Houston native and homegrown player has already allowed three more goals than he did all of last season, despite playing in five fewer games. He’s also failed to post a clean sheet in 2017 and it looks as though the Loons should be able to put a couple past him if they execute their gameplan well.
296 - The total number of MLS starts made by Ricardo Clark in his career
We’re kicking it into overdrive and hitting numbers in the triple digits for this one. Clark has been a member of the Dynamo since 2006, except for a two-year span where he went to Eintracht Frankfurt and then on loan to Stabaek, and has enjoyed a fruitful career that has seen him make the 2010 USA World Cup roster, an MLS Best XI, and three MLS All-Star teams. The 34-year-old has represented the United States 34 times and brings an unparalleled amount of experience and leadership to the Dynamo. He’s started all five of Houston’s games this season and tallied a total of 376 minutes. One more fun fact about Ricardo... he played at Furman University alongside Clint Dempsey for two seasons in 2001-2002.
Alright, enough tidbits about the bad guys. Let’s focus on the Loons from here on out.
5 - The number of saves Jesse Gonzalez made against the Loons on Saturday
The 21-year-old FC Dallas keeper put in a fantastic shift against Minnesota and made big stops on shots by Sam Cronin, Kevin Molino, Abu Danladi, and Johan Venegas. Forcing the opponent’s keeper to make five saves is clear evidence of a potent attack, and on another day the Loons could have easily put two or three goals on the scoreboard.
6 - Saves made by Bobby Shuttleworth since the team’s 5-2 shellacking at the hands of New England
After managing to save just two out of the first 10 shots on goal he faced in net for the Loons, Shuttleworth has now saved six out of his last ten shots faced. He’s stepped up as of late, and Minnesota United will continue to lean on him until the defense irons out its struggles.
7.8 - The difference in possession between Minnesota and FC Dallas last week
Minnesota possessed the ball for 53.9 percent of the time in their last game, which is the highest amount of possession that they’ve tallied in a game so far this season. The Loons attack has seemingly gelled to the point where the players are familiar with one another and know each other’s tendencies. Early on in the season, the Minnesota attack had serious problems stringing together multiple passes and playing the ball into space but it seems as though those days are in the rearview mirror, thankfully.
8 - The number of corners taken by the Loons against Dallas
Set pieces have been a major weakness for the team this season, and with Mohammed Saeid now in Colorado, the Loons desperately need to figure out the best player(s) to take their corners and free kicks. Kevin Molino has been dangerous from the penalty spot but his corners leave quite a bit to be desired. Perhaps Marc Burch’s left foot could come in handy for Minnesota as it did in the above video from when he was with Colorado.
9 - The number of key passes played by Johan Venegas this season
Opta’s definition of a key pass is “the final pass or pass-cum-shot leading to the recipient of the ball having an attempt at goal without scoring.” Nobody on the Loons has made more key passes than Johan Venegas, who has nine so far this season. The next closest is Jerome Thiesson, surprisingly, who has five. Venegas continues to be a dangerous attacking player, more specifically one who has a knack for picking out great passes.
10 - Goals scored by Minnesota in the 2017 campaign so far
The Loons have tallied 10 goals through their first six games, and are the fourth highest-scoring team in MLS this season behind Portland, Atlanta, and Saturday’s opponents the Houston Dynamo. All three of those offenses have looked potent this season, and the fact that Minnesota is scoring at a similar pace is a good omen.
22 - Goals conceded by Minnesota so far this season
This stat has been discussed ad nauseum, so I’ll keep the description brief to spare some feelings. The Loons have allowed 12 more goals than Vancouver, who have allowed the second-most in the league. Coincidentally, Minnesota and Vancouver both have just four points apiece so far in 2017.
24 - Games played by Collen Warner for the Dynamo in 2016
Minnesota United are the fifth MLS club that midfielder Collen Warner has played for since coming into the league back in 2010, and he spent most of last season as a member of the Dynamo. Saturday’s game will be a bit of a homecoming for the Colorado native who logged almost 2000 minutes of game action for Houston.
51 - The number of successful passes completed by Sam Cronin last week
Despite just a week’s worth of practice under his belt, the former Rapids midfield metronome was able to complete 51 out of his 56 passes for a passing percentage of just over 91 percent, per Opta. His presence in the midfield should continue to strengthen the team moving forward.
100 - The percent chance that Sam Cronin wears the team’s armband before the end of the season, in my estimation
Cronin handled the captain’s duties for Colorado in both 2015 and 2016, and the Georgia native has already shown the ability to be the capo of the midfield for United. He was described as Colorado’s “alpha male” and the type of player who can “take the team by the scruff of the neck” by Denver Post reporter Daniel Boniface. Cronin’s leadership qualities will go a long way in helping some of the more inexperienced players in the Minnesota lineup.
334 - The total minutes played this season by Miguel Ibarra and Rasmus Schuller
Due to the fact that MLS teams usually keep their transfer fees under wraps, it’s unknown just how much the Loons front office spent on these two players but it’s safe to say that neither came cheap. Schuller and Ibarra were two of the team’s high-profile signings, and both seemed destined to be mainstays in the matchday eleven but neither has received significant playing time. With Bashkim Kadrii struggling and Collen Warner being made somewhat redundant due to his similar skill set to Sam Cronin, Schuller and Ibarra could see an increase in minutes in the near future.
That’ll take care of this week’s statistical preview. How do you think the Loons will fare on Saturday? Comment below.