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Player Grades: Portland Timbers vs. Austin FC

Yimmi Chara leads the way in Naveen Elliott’s first edition of Player Grades.

SOCCER: MAR 12 MLS - Austin FC at Portland Timbers

This is a purely automated grading system (meaning no eye-test is incorporated) that computes player grades of each game in the MLS season and measures each player’s impact on the game and overall performance. To develop this system, I used data from WyScout and FBref.

The grading system operates on a scale from 0 to 10 with 0 being the worst possible grade for a player and 10 being the best possible grade that a player can achieve. The grade that each player receives is dependent upon their position, so I adjust my formulas for each position because of the differing roles it requires. The formulas that I created use a wide array of advanced soccer statistics and I am continually making adjustments, so I would appreciate any advice or constructive criticism in the comments.

With that said, on Saturday night, the Portland Timbers won 1-0 against an in-form Austin FC. The winning goal was scored by Bill Tuiloma, who headed home a set piece delivered by Yimmi Chara. Here’s my breakdown of how the Portland Timbers players performed as they moved up to sixth in the Western Conference.

Player Grades:

Aljaž Ivačič (GK) - 3.4

Ivacic didn’t have much to do in goal (at all), so this grade is pretty much based on his passing from the back. Ivacic did not distribute well. He completed a mere 70% of his passes and 29% of his long balls. I would definitely like to see him improve his passing in the future because he had a pretty poor game in that regard.

José Van Rankin (RB) - 5.2

Van Rankin had an all-around alright game as he performed well in his total actions, passing, and dribbling while producing below-average defensive and playmaking numbers. In terms of his passing and total actions, Van Rankin actually completed a large percentage of his attempts. But he didn’t have many offensive opportunities down the right side which limited his impact on the game. As for his defensive production, Van Rankin only completed 50% of his six defensive duels and registered just three interceptions in the game.

Zac McGraw (CB) - 5.4

McGraw had a pretty good game defensively and was good in the air, however, he underperformed in the passing and total actions categories. He completed his three defensive duels while piling up nine clearances. Yet, McGraw completed 82% of his total passes and only 45% of his forward passes.

Bill Tuiloma (CB) - 6.45

In contrast to McGraw, Tuiloma's strengths in this game were his passing and total actions, in addition to his game-winning goal and clearance. Tuiloma completed an above-average number of passes (87%) and completed all of his long passes. He also completed 67% of his forward passes, which still isn’t that great for a CB but over 20% better than his partner. Defensively, Tuiloma was solid but he also just attempted three defensive duels (the same as McGraw) so he really wasn’t tested that much.

Justin Rasmussen (LB) - 2.95

Rasmussen did not have that great of a game, as he performed below average in all of my major categories for fullbacks. This can be seen from his total actions percentage. He completed just 52% of his total actions, far below-average for players of his position (for reference, Van Rankin completed 65% of his duels and that ranked him average/above average).

Rasmussen completed just 67% of his passes and registered a mere two defensive duels in the game. Playmaking-wise, Rasmussen completed an extremely low percentage of his forward passes (43%) and passes into the final third (25%), but he did complete a large percentage of his passes into the penalty area (75%) and his crosses (100%). Rasmussen performed decently in this area. This was Rasmussen’s first game in MLS so it’s likely that he will need time to adjust to this new level of competition.

Diego Chara (CM) - 6.8

D. Chara performed well as he normally does. He ranked above average in all major statistics. But what really stood out to me was his offensive production. Diego drew six fouls throughout the match and completed 100% of his offensive duels, demonstrating his efficiency in limited opportunities. Overall, Chara completed 75% of his total actions, indicating just how efficient he was on both ends of the field. Chara also completed nearly 86% of his passes and 67% of his long balls to cap off a good all-around performance.

Cristhian Paredes (CM) - 4.5

Paredes was slightly below average in each statistical category and his offensive production and total actions were his weaknesses in this game. The Paraguayan completed just one of his four offensive duels, but the reason he didn’t receive a higher grade was that he didn’t get on the ball enough. For example, Paredes completed over 88% of his total passes but attempted less than 20 passes (which is very low for a midfielder). So hopefully we will see more of him on the ball against Dallas.

Yimmi Chara (CAM) - 7.3

Y. Chara was solid overall. The Colombian delivered a wonderful ball for Tuiloma’s headed goal but his dribbling and total actions were below-average (partially because he didn’t have many opportunities). As indicated by his assist, Y. Chara’s playmaking and passing were on point in this game and he also did a good job at pressing and winning the ball back. Similar to the rest of the team, he didn’t really have enough opportunities to showcase his skills because Austin held a high level of possession but when Y. Chara received the ball, he was efficient and productive.

Santiago Moreno (RW) - 5.0

Moreno’s attacking, playmaking, and dribbling grades were about average but he demonstrated his defensive prowess. Moreno recovered the ball seven times and completed nearly 63% of his eight defensive duels. On the other hand, Moreno completed just 67% of his passes and 33% of his passes into the final third and penalty area. So I would like to see him make some smarter decisions with his passing in the next game, but besides that, he performed around the average for his position.

Jaroslaw Niezgoda (ST) - 2.9

Niezgoda struggled in this match. All of his grades were below 3.3 except for his passing. He took just one shot, while the team took 13 as a whole. Niezgoda completed a mere 38% of his total actions, which is well below-average for a striker. He recovered the ball just twice in the game and once in the opponent’s half, which is also below-average. The Pole did not attempt a single defensive duel. Offensively, Niezgoda won just 20% of his offensive duels and while some of this is due to the lack of service from his teammates, he was very inefficient when he had opportunities.

Dairon Asprilla (LW) - 4.8

Asprilla was above average in his dribbling, pressing, and a few other attacking grades. But his passing and playmaking were very poor in this game. Although Asprilla attempted less than 20 passes this game, he completed under 60% and just 25% of his forward passes which is poor. He also attempted just one pass into the final third and none into the penalty area. Asprilla did complete 87.5% of his offensive duels and drew three fouls which is impressive. He also attempted eight defensive duels and completed 57% of them, which is above-average and displays his contribution to the team’s clean sheet.

Substitutes:

Sebastian Blanco (LW) - N/A

David Ayala (CM) - N/A

Diego Gutierrez (ST) - N/A

These players aren’t graded because I currently do not have a grading system that will fairly evaluate players who played under 30 minutes compared to the rest of the team who played most of the game. This is something that I want to improve and would like to add in the future.