Can Jermaine Jones help New England Revolution dominate MLS in 2015?

New England Revolution will still be licking their wounds after an agonising defeat at the hands of LA Galaxy in the MLS Cup Final, but all isn’t lost and they have plenty to look forward to in next year’s campaign.

One of their key assets in the end of season run-in was USA international Jermaine Jones who joined the Revs from Turkish side Besiktas in August 2014 and went on to make 15 appearances combining the end of the regular season and New England’s MLS Cup run.

As well as his dominant midfield performances which further allowed playmaker Lee Nguyen to express himself, he also chipped in with three goals and four assists.

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With Jones in the side, New England won 11, tied two and lost two of the 15 games in which he featured – one of those being that painful 2-1 defeat after extra-time against LA Galaxy in the MLS Cup Final.

If they can continue that kind of form when the 2015 season gets underway then they will be a serious force and you would expect them to be the team to beat.

New England Revolution’s stats and projected points total with Jones on the pitch compared to without him makes for frightening reading for other MLS teams going in to the next campaign.

JJ Stats

[*Includes points that New England Revolution would have gained from MLS playoff fixtures]

The highest points tally in an MLS season came when LA Galaxy accrued a total of 68 in the 1998 season, which they did so at a rate of 2.13 points per game.

The stats show that if New England can continue to play the way they have been, then they could potentially blow that record out of the water.

Will New England Revolution break the record for the highest points tally next year?

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Stats: How important is Nemanja Matic to Chelsea?

Chelsea got back to winning ways in the Premier League with a 2-0 win against Hull City yesterday, after Newcastle ended their unbeaten streak last weekend. And it is no coincidence that the loss came when midfield enforcer Nemanja Matic was missing.

The powerful Serbian missed the trip to Newcastle as he was suspended and he was greatly missed in the middle of the park as Jose Mourinho watched his side lose for the first time this campaign.

Don’t miss: The latest MLSGB Podcast as we talk MLS Cup, Expansion Draft and Chelsea

But his return against Hull ensured Chelsea got back to winning ways and remained at the top of the Premier League. The Blues have only conceded one goal in their last six games that Matic has played in.

John Obi Mikel stepped in to replace Matic at Newcastle but the Nigerian is far from the standard of the Serbian, and that is shown by the gulf in class statistically so far this season.

Nemanja Matic John Obi Mikel Stats Chelsea

Matic and Mikel’s 2014 Premier League stats (via Squawka.com)

Matic has only missed the one game at Newcastle, and it is no coincidence that the Blues lost for the first time without him.

He is an integral part of the side and arguably the most important player. Not from a goalscoring perspective, but his consistently solid displays in the middle of the pitch give Chelsea the platform to go on and win every game that he plays in.

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Any side that goes on to win titles in the modern game needs a solid defensive midfield player to steady the ship all season long.

Former Chelsea star Claude Makelele was probably the man who reinvented the role of a central midfielder under Jose Mourinho ten years ago, and Matic has taken it one step further. He is world-class in his position and Chelsea are unlikely to taste defeat when he’s on the field.

How important is Nemanja Matic for Chelsea – is he their most important player?

Thierry Henry: The living legend – A look at the New York Red Bulls stars MLS numbers

Legend is a word sometimes brandished loosely, but in the case of Thierry Henry, it’s about the only word that does him and his achievements justice.

No one knows what his next move will be since his recent departure from the New York Red Bulls, but one thing that is certain is that he has enjoyed an illustrious career and his services to soccer will never be forgotten.

Here is a breakdown of Thierry Henry’s New York Red Bulls career:

Titi Red Bulls in numbers

Statistically, 2012 was Henry’s best season in Major League Soccer as he recorded his highest goals tally in one MLS season, his best goals-per-game ratio, goals-per-minute ratio and goals contributed.

His final season saw him take on the role of provider and he notched 14 assists (his highest number of assists in one MLS season), many of which would have been for top goalscorer Bradley Wright-Phillips who has become a designated player since Henry’s departure.

Four years and five seasons at the Red Bulls brought some moments to remember and here is his time at the New York club in numbers:

Rumours are swelling about his next step with many linking him with a possible return to Arsenal – perhaps in a non-playing role – but whatever happens, everyone in MLS and at MLSGB will miss seeing him play in the USA.

What will be the next move for Thierry Henry?

Stats: Donovan & Keane vs Martins & Dempsey – Who will come out on top?

The first-leg of the Western Conference Final gets underway on Sunday night as Seattle Sounders travel to LA Galaxy in what promises to be a thrilling encounter.

The two sides met twice at the end of the regular in a dramatic climax to for the MLS Supporters’ Shield, with Seattle coming out on top, but a place in the MLS Cup is at stake this time.

Robbie Keane‘s absence may have cost the Galaxy the Supporters Shield but he will be in the team when LA welcome Seattle this weekend, and will hope his lethal partnership with Landon Donovan can once again lead their side to victory.

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The pair have scored 33 goals between them this season – accounting for 45% of the Galaxy’s goals in the regular season and playoffs. They will look to carry the form from the 5-0 thrashing of Real Salt Lake in the last round into this game.

Donovan scored a hat-trick in another memorable performance and his hopes of lifting a sixth MLS Cup before retirement are still alive.

Don’t Miss: Playoff Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders

Seattle have just as dangerous a partnership themselves in Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. The dynamic duo have scored 32 of the club’s 66 goals in the regular season and playoffs – accounting for 49%.

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The Sounders are hoping to become the first MLS side to win the treble by lifting the MLS Cup, following their successes in the US Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield in 2014.

Dempsey and Martins are integral to that and need to make sure they give Seattle something to take away from Los Angeles in the first-leg.

Donovan and Keane vs Dempsey and Martins Stats

Stats: Donovan & Keane Vs Dempsey & Martins – including playoffs. Statistics via Squawka.

The table above shows that Donovan and Keane are more of a threat together as the pair contributed to more goals and created more chances than the Seattle duo.

But Dempsey and Martins have recorded more shots and aren’t too far off the Galaxy pair.

It should be another intriguing battle between the sides, and one that will hopefully live long in the memory as an MLS Playoffs classic.

Landon Donovan could yet again be playing in his final home game in MLS, but Galaxy fans will hope by Keane playing against the Sounders this time as well that they will have enough to win the first-leg.

Who will come out on top on Sunday – Donovan & Keane or Dempsey & Martins?

 

Stats: Thierry Henry vs Lee Nguyen – Which playmaker will make the difference on Sunday?

New York Red Bulls host New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference Final first-leg on Sunday night, and two of Major League Soccer‘s best playmakers are set to go head-to-head in Thierry Henry and Lee Nguyen.

Henry has been a world-class talent for much of his career and he would be an integral part of any side, even at 37. The French genius is vital for the Red Bulls and his form in the MLS Playoffs so far this season has been a joy to watch.

He is arguably in the best run of form we’ve seen of him in a New York shirt and if he plays as he has done the past few weeks, the Red Bulls may have enough to win the first-leg.

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On the other side New England Revolution have a midfield maestro of their own in Lee Nguyen. The 28-year-old has had the best season of his career and leads the Revs in goals with 20, including the two in the playoffs so far.

Don’t miss: Playoff Preview and Prediction: New York Red Bulls vs New England Revolution

Nguyen’s form was rewarded with a call-up to the USMNT last week and we can expect to see him back with Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad in January.

Without Nguyen, it’s difficult to see how New England would have made it into the playoffs. Jermaine Jones’ arrival sparked the team into life but its the playmaker who has been the start this year.

The battle between Henry and Nguyen should go a long way to deciding the outcome of this game, as if either player can pull the strings on Sunday, they should guide their team to victory.

Thierry Henry vs Lee Nguyen in 2014 - including playoffs. Stats via Squawka.

Thierry Henry vs Lee Nguyen in 2014 – including playoffs. Stats via Squawka.

Nguyen has scored an impressive 20 goals so far and is more of a goal threat than Henry because of his more central position.

Henry tends to play out on the left now for the Red Bulls so his goal return of 10 so far is still impressive, and the Frenchman has made 10 more goals for teammates than the Revs man has managed. With Bradley Wright-Phillips the one who has benefitted most from Henry’s presence this year.

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The pair are both so influential for their sides and that is shown by their individual influence to the total team goals this season. Henry has contributed to 24 of New York’s 60 goals in 2014 (40%). Whereas Nguyen has contributed to the same number of goals (24) of New England’s 58 this year (41%).

The two have enjoyed very similar campaigns in terms of goal contribution and will need to be at their best once more to help their side’s try and get the advantage in the first-leg showdown at Red Bull arena.

Who will make the difference on Sunday – Henry or Nguyen?

Stats: Thierry Henry puts in most influential performance since 2011 as Red Bulls beat Sporting Kansas City

Thierry Henry helped the New York Red Bulls to seal a 2-1 comeback victory against Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference knockout game last night, and the Frenchman put in a fine display.

Going into the game, many wondered if Henry would even play as he was struggling with achilles problems on both ankles, but he started and starred against last year’s MLS Cup winners.

The Frenchman’s future with the Red Bulls has been up in the air recently as speculation about his retirement after the playoffs continues to rumble on.

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But he let his footballing ability do the talking last night as he had the most touches of the ball in a single game since 2011, with 112.

He set-up Bradley Wright-Phillips for the equaliser and made four of his side’s seven dribbles in the game from the left-wing.

The 37-year-old showed signs of tiredness, but was influential as ever as he helped the Red Bulls win a home playoff game for the first time ever.

New York now host DC United on Sunday night in the first-leg of their Eastern Conference semi-final, and they will need another big performance from Henry in that one.

Highlights via MLS on YouTube:

Pass master: This Seattle star has the best record in MLS

Seattle Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso leads the league in passing accuracy, and the 28-year-old has delivered on his designated player tag by being the best on the ball this season.

The tough-tackling Cuban has completed an impressive 91.1% of his passes this season, according to WhoScored.com, and that number is the best in Major League Soccer, with LA Galaxy’s Juninho his closest rival with 89.6% pass accuracy.

Alonso’s accuracy is made even more impressive by the fact that he has completed the second-highest number of passes per game on average this season.

He has made 66.6 passes per game, an amount only bettered by Columbus Crew midfielder Will Trapp, who has made an average of 67.4.

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The Sounders have enjoyed a very good season so far, and they will be looking to clinch the Supporters Shield when they face LA Galaxy once again on Saturday night.

Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins take most of the plaudits for their impressive displays in the final third, but Alonso’s consistency has allowed those players to go about their business on a weekly basis.

Alonso will need to stay as solid with the ball if the Sounders are to have a chance at winning their first MLS Cup, and they are expected to go far in the playoffs after an exciting season so far.

How important is Osvaldo Alonso to the Seattle Sounders? And how far can they go in the Playoffs?

Robbie Keane: The goal machine

The playoffs are now fast approaching and other than their defeat last weekend, LA Galaxy have been in a superb run of form going in to it, so they will be full of confidence.

They have lost just 3 of their last 24 games and went on a 10-game unbeaten run from 29th July to 5th October.

LA Galaxy’s last 24 games: Played 24 – Won 15 – Drawn 6 – Lost 3

Much of the attention for their achievements so far this season have focused on club legend, Landon Donovan, and rightly so.

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But with all eyes on Donovan, it’s allowed forward, Robbie Keane, to go about his business quietly but extremely efficiently.

He is the Galaxy’s top goalscorer with 19 and is the third highest across the entire MLS this season, behind only Red Bulls record-chaser Bradley Wright-Phillips (25 goals) and Dom Dwyer (21 goals) of Sporting Kansas City.

The Irishman has contributed an almost record-breaking 33 goals this season (19 scored – 14 assisted).

The record for most goals contributed in one MLS season is currently held by Chris Wondolowski when he notched 27 goals and 7 assists for San Jose Earthquakes in 2012, making it 34 in total.

Other notable efforts were that of Jason Kreis – he contributed 33 goals (18 scored – 15 assisted) for FC Dallas in 1999.

Cobi Jones, also of LA Galaxy, contributed 32 goals (19 scored – 13 assisted) in the 1998 season.

Most goals contributed in an MLS season

  • 34 – Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) – 2012
  • 33 Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy) 2014
  • 33 – Jason Kreis (FC Dallas) – 1999
  • 32 – Cobi Jones (LA Galaxy) – 1998
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It all means that if Robbie Keane can either assist or score one more goal in his last two games, he will equal the record for most goals contributed in any MLS season – two more goals would see him set the record.

It comes as no coincidence as his maiden voyage in Major League Soccer saw him play a hand in 25 goals when he scored 16 and set-up 9 in the 2012 season.

The 2013 season saw him involved in 27 goals with 16 scored and 11 assisted, so he has been very consistent for three years running now and it certainly deserves a mention.

Will Robbie Keane set the record for most goals contributed in an MLS season?

Stats: Howard vs Guzan – Who has been better this season?

The USA’s top two goalkeeper’s are set to go head-to-head when Everton welcome Aston Villa to Goodison Park as the Premier League returns following the international break this weekend.

The Toffees come into the game in poor form, having failed to win in their last five in all competitions, but they will be confident of getting a result against a Villa side that has lost its last three league games without scoring a goal.

Tim Howard will hope to earn his first home clean sheet of the campaign against his fellow USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who has taken the number one spot in Klinsmann’s team while Howard has a break from international football.

Statistic Tim Howard Brad Guzan
Appearances 7 7
Clean sheets 1 3
Goals conceded 16 9
Saves/game 2.43 2.71
Punches/game 0.29 0.57
Successful catches/game 2.29 1.00
Accurate goal kicks/game 5.43 3.86

Howard has endured a tough start to the new season, and has conceded 16 times in his first seven matches, a significantly worse record than Guzan so far.

The Villa ‘keeper has conceded nine in the same number of games, but Everton’s defence is considerably stronger on paper, and Howard is maybe struggling with a ‘World Cup hangover’ after such excellent displays in Brazil.

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Guzan has made more saves per game this season, and tends to punch the ball away from danger more often that Howard too, but the Everton shot-stopper is much better at catching the ball, and is also more accurate with his feet.

The game at Goodison Park this weekend looks set to be a good one as both sides are desperate to find some form after the break, and whichever US goalkeeper performs best will likely see his team succeed.

Who has been more impressive this season – Guzan or Howard?

Just how good is Landon Donovan? An in-depth look at the greatest ever MLS striker

As the dust is beginning to settle on the remarkable record set by Landon Donovan on Sunday and as his achievement starts to sink in, it’s a good time to judge how good he really is.

A striker will always be judged on the goals they have scored and how regularly they manage to score them.

But for a striker to be regarded as the complete player, they need to be capable of creating chances for others as well as sticking away the ones that fall their way.

In view of this, and taking in to consideration the top ten goalscorers in MLS history, how does Donovan compare and is he really the best of the lot?

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He has a shots-attempted-to-goals-scored conversion ratio of 20.5%, which is second only to the retired Roy Lassiter who had an impressive ratio of 22.1%.

If you combine the total amount of goals contributed in a game by any player, which includes goals scored and assists, Landon Donovan has the best record of all-time with an impressive average of 0.82 goals contributed per game.

The next most successful player is ex-New England Revolution man Taylor Twellman, who had a ratio of 0.74 goals contributed per game.

So not only is Donovan now officially the top goalscorer in MLS history, if you study the game and stats more closely you can see that he is genuinely the best striker to have graced any MLS pitch.

Once again – a big well done to Landon Donovan.

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So how has he missed out on being selected in the squad for the World Cup in Brazil?

In a nutshell, nobody really knows because statistically, he is more than good enough to have earned a spot in the team.

By not selecting Donovan, it suggests that there are 23 other American players better than he is, or that they will serve the team to a better extent, but this is hard to agree with.

Various critics have stated that it’s about developing for the future as the likes of Julian Green, 18, who plays for the Bayern Munich reserve side, have been given an opportunity.

But when you look at the ages of the other strikers included, you can see that surely this isn’t relevant to the selection and that for whatever reason it may be, Klinsmann just isn’t a fan of Donovan.

His league goals per game ratio is better than 3 of the other strikers selected, so one can only assume that it comes down to personal preference for Klinsmann.

League Goals per game average:

  • Landon Donovan (aged 32) – 0.44 league goals per game

Strikers Selected for the World Cup squad:

  • Chris Wondolowski (aged 31) – 0.47 league goals per game
  • Aron Johannsson (aged 23) – 0.43 league goals per game
  • Jozy Altidore (aged 24) – 0.31 league goals per game
  • Clint Dempsey (aged 31) – 0.30 league goals per game

The mystery surrounding his absence may never be solved, but it is clear that the USMNT would be in a better position were Landon Donovan set to fly out to Brazil next month, and it is disappointing to see the best striker MLS has ever seen miss out on the chance to represent his country for the fourth time.

All 136 of Landon Donovan’s MLS goals can be viewed below courtesy of mlssoccer.com: