On US Soccer’s website they provide some brief statistics on each player for each year. More specifically they provide information on games played, games started, minutes played, goals, assists, points, yellow/red cards, and caps/goals. These statistics seem as good as any to examine. The USWNT seems to have turned a page on 2011 with a newfound desire to destroy each opponent so I’m sticking to statistics from 2012. Also rather than weighting goals more than assists I place the same value on goals and assists.
Moving on to actual findings. The most productive players in terms of sheer number of goals and assists contributed are your usual suspects; the top three being Morgan, Wambach, and Cheney with 18, 15, and 11 respectively. The other top producers include Rodriguez (10), O’Reilly (9), Lloyd (8), and Leroux (7). Well this is nothing new, so let’s take this to the next level.
*Forwards are marked in orange, midfielders in blue, and defenders in purple. Cheney is listed as a midfielder because it is the position she most often occupies.
What makes a player truly productive is if they make efficient use of the time they are given on the pitch. Therefore let’s look at the most efficient players (defined by minutes divided by goals contributed). This is where the super-sub phenomenon can be recognized more clearly. Leroux leads efficiency with a goal every 23 minutes on the pitch. Other notably efficient players (those who produce a goal in 45 minutes or less) include strikers Morgan and Wambach as well as Krieger. Krieger’s inclusion reflects the fact that she only played 42 minutes before tearing her ACL and yet was able to contribute an assist in that game against the Dominican Republic.
Unsurprisingly the forwards are the most prolific scorers, then followed by the flank midfielders, Lloyd, and the outside backs. This is good news seeing as Sundhage is often encouraging the outside defenders to get forward as part of the attack and send in crosses. Buehler also makes an appearance ahead of Lindsey and Boxx reflecting her positioning on set pieces in which she usually is encouraged to crash the box with her ability to head balls in.
Okay, so we’ve taken a cursory view of the positives of USWNT, now let’s look for places to improve. Despite sending in one of the most important crosses of USWNT history, Rapinoe’s productivity seems to have taken a hit as of late. She scores or assists on a goal only every 120 minutes, certainly not a number to scoff at but with Mitts coming in at a goal per 125 minutes, probably not at the level she should be at. And if I’m going to be nitpicky, LePeilbet has not produced any goals despite playing the most minutes of any outside back supporting the idea that she is probably the least offensive-minded outside back the USWNT currently has in its rotation.
On the whole, as any casual USWNT fan would note, the USWNT has been remarkably efficient at putting the ball in the back of the net in 2012. Impressively 9 players contribute by either scoring or assisting on a goal every 90 minutes. On a purely offensive side, it is not surprising that the US coaching staff is still testing out various midfield combinations as they have some extremely productive players to choose from.
Next time we’ll look at some caveats of this data and a revised look at efficiency.