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NYCFC DPs: How do they compare offensively against the rest of the league?

The numbers may surprise you.

MLS: New England Revolution at New York City FC Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

NYCFC has the maximum three designated players on their roster right now. David Villa has been top class as always. Maxi Moralez arrived in the winter and has exceeded expectations. Andrea Pirlo has been poor, however, and is bringing his fellow DPs down. And given that MLS only allows three such players, it’s worth illustrating that Pirlo still effectively limits New York City as he rides the bench, knee injury or otherwise.

I decided to examine the DPs in a three part series, with each article focusing on either offense, defense, and passing. This series will juxtapose the NYCFC designated players against those of the rest of the league. Offensively, we’ll compare across five categories: Goals per 90, Assists per 90, Goals plus Assists per 90, Offensive Actions per 90, and Total Offensive DP rank.

The statistics are converted to per 90 to equalize for the fact that not all players have played the similar minutes. Offensive Actions include Shots, Key Passes, and Successful Dribbles. Total Offensive DP rank combines Goals + Assists per 90, and Offensive Actions per 90. 47 DPs were analyzed; defenders and goalkeepers were omitted because they don’t accrue many offensive actions. Two teams, Minnesota United and D.C. United, don’t have a designated player on their roster.

All told, the results may surprise you: as a unit, NYCFC’s DPs are below average offensively.

(All statistics from WhoScored. Graphs made in Tableau)

Goals Per 90

MLS DPs Goals per 90

David Villa, your reigning league MVP, is near the top of the league in Goals per 90, while Maxi Moralez doesn’t stack up. Moralez isn’t expected to score very frequently, however, as he’s assumed a playmaker role. Pirlo, as you’d assume, is absent from the chart; his lone goal for New York City came a year ago.

As a team, the Blues’ DP trio ranks 12th out of 20 teams.

Assists per 90

MLS DPs Assists per 90

New York City rank an impressive second in Assists per 90, buoyed by Maxi’s 0.4 rate, good for second out of all DPs. Villa is also at the higher end of the group. Once again, Pirlo doesn’t appear because he hasn’t registered an assist this year. This is a real disappointment, as he was brought in specifically to maintain possession and create goals.

Goals and Assists per 90

MLS DPs Goals and Assists per 90

NYCFC ranks 13th out of 20 teams in combined Goals and Assists per 90 minutes, but David Villa sits at the top of the heap. Moralez is in the midle tier, ranking 23rd out of 47. Once again, Andrea Pirlo is absent. Sense a common theme here?

Offensive Actions per 90

MLS DPs Offensive Actions per 90

Villa ranks second in Offensive Actions per 90 behind only Ignacio Piatti of Montreal. Moralez is on the lower end of mid-tier, ranking 32nd out of 47. Pirlo brings up the rear, ranking a humble 42nd. Overall, New York City’s DP trio ranks 14 out of 20 possible teams.

Total Offensive DP Rank and Analysis

NYCFC ranks 14 in Total Offensive DP Rank. Clearly, they are harmed by Pirlo’s poor contributions; if he were cut loose, NYCFC would have a tremendously strong DP pair.

That says something in and of itself.

With the summer window fast approaching, Claudio Reyna and Patrick Vieira have a lot of thinking to do. They need to make the tough decision to get rid of him. Luckily, NYCFC have several replacements on the roster, including Yangel Herrera, Tommy McNamara and Mikey Lopez, with James Sands waiting in the wings in the academy. Additionally, they could find an ample replacement with the players they could sign in the newly vacant DP slot. Offensively, Pirlo isn’t cutting it. Change needs to happen.


What do you make of the numbers? Are we being too harsh on Pirlo? Do you think Maxi is overrated? Leave a comment and let us know what you think!