Perkins was the Man of the Match and has been several times – and absolutely deserves it. I am so glad he’s in goal for us. My only complaint has been his distribution. I keep looking at the MLS chalkboard data and that doesn’t look great but not that bad. Yet every time he gets the ball and motions all the Timbers forward I cringe. So I decided to get ultra-geeky with the data and fast-forward through the Houston game to analyze his distribution. For anyone interested, here’s what I found:
- The bottom line is (if this one game were actually representative of all games) Perkins should always roll or throw it. If he kicks it, he should never drop kick it. For kicks from the ground, we’re better off if he kicks it to an opposing player first rather than to a Timbers player. (No, I’m not actually recommending that, but see why I say that below)...
- Not counting quick clearances and back-passes, Perkins had 33 chances to distribute. MLS chalkboard had a total of 41 passes, 27 successful and 14 unsuccessful, so counting quick clearances and back-passes, I think I got them all.
- The difference between who got first touch and who ends up with possession when the ball settles is significant and shows me that the MLS chalkboard stats can be misleading – more on that below.
- Of the 33 chances, 7 were rolls or throws. All of these, all ended up with Timbers 1st touch and Timbers possession (100%). What the team did with the ball afterward is another matter, but several ended up with the ball well into the Houston side in a very short time, so the long kick doesn’t seem to convey any special advantage in this very limited sample.
- Of the 26 kicks, 5 were drop kicks (as far as I could see – the camera didn’t always return to Perkins in time) and the rest were either goal kicks or kicks where he placed the ball on the ground.
- 21 distributions were either goal kicks or just times when Perkins put the ball on the ground to kick it. 15 of those had a Timbers 1st touch – over 71%. But of those 15, only 6 ended up with Timbers in possession. So when we have 1st touch on a kick from the ground, we actually get possession only 40% of the time. Of the remaining 6 times, when Houston got 1st touch, we ended up with possession 50% of the time.
- Of the 5 drop kicks, 2 were first touched by a Timbers player, but both of those ended up in Houston possession. Only one of the total 5 drop kicks ended up in Timbers possession, but that was because Houston got 1st touch and headed it out of bounds. So, again from a very limited sample, drop kicks were 0% successful in ending up in Timbers possession. I’ve noticed Troy has stopped doing them very often, and this may be why. However – 4 of the 5 total drop kicks during the game came starting in the 88th minutes. Whether it is partial cause or just a symptom, the drop kicks seem to go with those times when we’re desperate and feeling peppered in the back.
- A few of the times Timbers ended up with possession, I would call it luck (e.g., Houston knocked it out of bounds and twice Houston committed a foul), so even some of the "successful" outcomes were due to luck.
- I saw several complaints about Perkins kicking it out of bounds. Of the 26 kicks, 5 went out of bounds, but three of those were because players knocked it out. Two of the kicks were close to the sideline and went out, one right away and one after Zizzo attempted to control. In fact, I’m impressed with how many of his kicks get so close to the player. The majority of the time (71%) the Timbers get the first touch – often on a Boyd or Songo’o header.
- There were 6 times when Perkins went at least 5 minutes without having to distribute the ball. However, in the last 7 minutes, he had to do so 6 times.
- At the end of the game, when it seemed like Houston had a flurry of chances at goal is when Perkins suddenly started drop kicking it again. 4 drop kicks out of 6 total distributions starting in the 88thminute, compared to 1 out of 27 during the rest of the game.
- In summary, for drop kicks, we ended up with possession 0% of the time
- For kicks from the ground, we ended up with possession just under 43% of the time. Of those, we had a better chance of ending up with possession when Houston got first touch (50% vs 40%).
- MLS Chalkboard would have counted 71% success rate from those on the ground kicks, but we actually retained possession only 43% of the time.
Alright guys, I don't believe I have to say this but, just in case, please do not submit anything racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise not appropriate for even the younger Timbers fans.