Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz
The Philadelphia Union have scored 3 goals in the last 6 games, being shutout in 3 times for a 0–3–3 record. Only 1 goal, a Chicago own goal, came from open play with the other 2 coming from free kick situations. Over that same period, the Union have allowed 8 goals. Compare this with the first six games under then interim manager John Hackworth, when they scored 12 goals and were shutout once for a 4–2–0 record while allowing 5 goals.
In an article posted in the beginning of August, I looked at what was going right under Hackworth compared to under Nowak. One of the areas that I focused on was the improved numbers for shots, shots on goal, and goals. To the left is the chart I came up with, which shows clear improvement across each category.
Interestingly, while the number of goals, as well as the scoring percentages, have dramatically declined over the last six games, the averages for shots and shots on goal have actually increased. However, while the number of shots on goal have increased, the percentage of shots that are on target has actually decreased by 10 percent compared to the first eight games under Hackworth. It isn’t hard to think of recent examples of obvious examples of obvious goal scoring opportunities that have gone high and/or wide.
So, 14 games into the Hackworth era, the team’s stats for goals and shots, much like the team’s overall record, remains improved compared to Nowak. However, the differences that were so apparent after the first 6 games under Hackworth have narrowed.
Shots and goals compared to the rest of the league
The Union’s recent lack of goals, the honeymoon period after Hackworth took over excepted, is of course part of a season-long trend. (It would be easy to argue that it is part of trend that has largely existed since the club’s first season.) The Union are currently next to last in the league for goals scored, and last in the league for assists, shots and shots on goal. While they have 5 more goals than Chivas USA, and have 2 fewer than Portland’s 27 goals, they also have 6 fewer assists than Chivas USA. The gap between the Union and league leader in assists San Jose is an incredible 43 assists. In fact, Seattle’s Mauro Rosales has only 2 fewer assists than the entire Union squad.
Even with its difficulties, the bright spot for the Union has been the defense, which is second in the league (tied with Columbus) for fewest goals allowed and at 30 is 6 behind league-leading Kansas City. But the Union’s inability to score gives them a goal difference of -5, which ties them with New England for the 8th worst in the conference, 13th in the league.
Team offensive stats
Readers have commented recently with questions about the Union’s stats for shots, so I have created the table below for easy reference. One thing that jumps out is that, although he only has 4 appearances so far, Danny Cruz has 11 shots. One hopes his willingness to shoot is contagious. It is interesting to note that at the end of the 2011 season, 16 Union players had scored for a total of 44 goals and 38 assists from 407 shots and 135 shots on goal. With 9 games left to play in the 2012 season, only 9 players have scored.