Crew's offensive woes can be pinpointed

BY foxsports • July 21, 2012


The Crew are mired in the lower half of the Eastern Conference table, nine points out of a playoff spot. The defense is doing the heavy lifting, ranked second in the league in goals allowed.
On the other end of the field, the offense only averages one score per game, second fewest goals in the league. The players expected to lead the offense have struggled to fill the mercurial shoes of Andreas Mendoza.
The biggest disappointment of 2012 has to be the offensive output of Emilio Renteria. The oft-injured Renteria is finally healthy, having already played more minutes this season than in 2011.
Many fans expected a healthy Renteria to take the league by storm, but two goals and one assist is far short of the lofty expectations.
Renteria's stats from this year to last are very similar. He leads the Crew with 41 shots this year - he had 43 in 2011. However, he hit the target with 40% of his shots and scored eight goals last season. This year, he has only put 27% of his shots on goal. 
The Crew's forward expected to share the load with Renteria has also struggled. Costa Rican transplant Olman Vargas has lost his starting spot in the lineup after a slow start and a leg injury in late April. He only has a single goal on the year.
Vargas shares the same problem as Renteria - he also isn't getting shots on target. He actually hits the target 50% of the time, much better than Renteria. However, he doesn't shoot as much as a forward is expected to. 
Vargas may not squeeze off a shot when he should, but its interesting to see the players who take shots more often. Renteria and midfielders Dilly Duka, Justin Meram, and Milovan Mirosevic all take shots more frequently than Vargas. With the exception of Duka, they all have more goals than him. These are mobile players who can create their own shot if they need to.
There is one bright spot when looking at the Crew offense - Eddie Gaven leads the team with four goals on the year. He's his normal sharp shooting self, putting a shot on target 44% of the time, similar to last year's 41% accuracy. The biggest change is that those shots are going in. Half of his shots on goal have resulted in a goal this year. 
Gaven's numbers compare well to some of the league's best goal scorers. San Jose's Chris Wondolowski leads MLS with 17 goals on a 50 percent target rate, while French international star Thierry Henry has notched 10 goals and scores on 45% of his shots.
With 4 of 17 team goals, the team needs Gaven to continue to chip in. Gaven's accuracy is in line with his career norms. However, Gaven has never come close to such goal scoring efficiency in his seven-year career. He's averaged scoring on one in every five shots before this year. 
It may not answer exactly how the Crew can score, but delving into the stat sheet gives some insight to the why. The forwards struggle to get shots at goal either due Renteria's wayward shots or Vargas's lack of them. If Renteria can get on target and Vargas gets into position to shoot, perhaps the Crew can break out of the offensive funk.


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