The Portland Timbers are currently 3rd in the Western Conference and 6th overall. While it's still a far cry from the top position currently held by FC Dallas, the team has, so far, performed much better than in 2012. But that's not really a big surprise is it? I mean, aside from their placement in the standings, it's something that we can see on the field. The Timbers possess, attack, pressure consistently.
But seeing something during the game isn't exactly proof that the team is performing better, for that we need to look at the hard statistical numbers. Here are the overall stats so far this season for each club:
|New England Revolution||5||1||1||37||10||76||69||10||16||0||0|
|New York Red Bulls||8||9||12||115||31||112||83||34||34||0||0|
|Real Salt Lake||7||6||7||88||32||78||84||9||32||0||1|
|San Jose Earthquakes||7||5||5||82||23||82||75||13||37||1||1|
|Seattle Sounders FC||5||2||3||59||17||67||62||18||29||0||0|
|Sporting Kansas City||7||8||8||102||26||105||107||16||37||0||0|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC||6||7||4||77||27||62||76||10||28||1||1|
As we can see, quite plainly, the Timbers are just one of four clubs that currently have double digit goals. They are, in fact, tied with Chivas USA and the Houston Dynamo for that second place position. FC Dallas has 11, for whatever that's worth.
However, the more important statistic, in my opinion, is that SOG stat (Shots on Goal). As you can see, the Timbers currently have 28 shots on goal for the season. That's not the highest number in the league (FC Dallas has 36), but when compared to the actual goals scored it becomes one of the highest conversion rates. So far 36% of the time the Timbers make a shot on target they score a goal. Only Chivas USA and Toronto FC have a higher conversion rate. In fact, here are some of the other top conversion rates:
- Chivas USA - 45%
- Toronto FC - 40%
- Portland Timbers - 36%
- FC Dallas - 30%
- New York Red Bulls - 29%
So while the Timbers' current SOG amount is significantly middle of the pack, they're arguably doing much more with them than many of the teams that are currently ahead of them in the standings. Granted one of those goals was an own goal by Jamison Olave, but even if you factor that in the Timbers are still in the same position with about 32%.
The rest of the stats, overall are looking pretty good as well. Instead of focusing on a single player, the Timbers seem to have cast a wide net with regards to where their attacking power is coming from. Currently, the Timbers' 10 goals have come from five different Timbers players and one New York Red Bulls player. Diego Valeri, Will Johnson, and Darlington Nagbe all have double digit shots with Ryan Johnson at nine. Assists have come from seven different players so far.
All of this boils down to one word: versatility. For two years in 2011 and 2012 we became accustom to a team that was rigid, lacked creativity, and played in a formation that pretty much any club could figure out and exploit. In 2013, we're seeing a remarkably different team where almost every player is somehow joined in pushing the attack forward. While it remains to be seen if they can keep these kinds of impressive numbers throughout the season, at 6 games in, I think Caleb Porter has shown that versatility and creative offense is the game of the future for MLS.
What do you think of the Portland Timbers' statistics so far? Do they paint a picture for the future? Where is there room for improvement?