FC Dallas: Judging the Offseason Moves

Aside from preseason scrimmages, it has been quiet on the news front for fans of FC Dallas. While the team has made some moves and picked up some new players, the off-season has arguably been dominated by the George John transfer saga and to a lesser extent concerns about 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira’s recovery following a broken ankle suffered early on last season against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Despite the seeming lack of energy surrounding the Hoops things picked up a bit in early January, starting with the club picking up Panamanian striker Blas Pérez and Colombian defender Hernán Pertúz on the same day, followed by George John’s loan to West Ham soon after. Soon after that Maicon Santos had the 2012 option on his contract declined, Marvin Chavéz was traded to San Jose for allocation money, finishing up with Jackson going on loan to Brazilian side Cruzeiro. Other than their picks from the supplemental draft, the acquisition of Carlos Rodríguez from Tauro FC has thus far signalled the end of Dallas’ off-season action.

With no apparent moves on the horizon (at least that I see) now seems an appropriate time to judge just what kind of impact the offseason had on the Hoops. To do so, I will be utilizing the Castrol Index, the official Performance Index of the MLS. It is by no means a perfect system of analysis but, seeing as it is meant mostly for rating individual performances, for my purposes it will provide a better method of analysis for rating what the loss of individual players might mean to the team.

To begin with, it should be noted that the league average Castrol Index rating is 7.207, with a standard deviation of .355. I take those numbers from a fantastic article over at Soccer By the Numbers, a site which you should definitely check out if you are interested in using stats to analyze soccer.

For those of you who aren’t too mathematically inclined, the following things are what you need to know: a standard deviation basically tells us how how much variation from the average there is in a set of data. For a normally distributed population, one standard deviation in either direction of the average will cover about 68% of the population. For example in our set of numbers that means that 68% of MLS players had an average Castrol Index rating of anywhere from 6.852 to 7.562. Furthermore, going two standard deviations from the average in either direction will represent about 95.4% of the population: in other words, around 95% of the 455 players in the Castrol Index had a rating in the area of 6.497 to 7.917. An average rating that’s more than 2 standard deviations from the average in either direction in our example is either quite commendable or deplorable, depending on the direction.

Looking at FC Dallas alone, we get the following numbers: the average rating amongst players is roughly 6.546, with a standard deviation of 1.714.  The top five player ratings, with where they ranked amongst the MLS, were:

  1. George John-9.02 (8th in MLS)
  2. Ugo Ihemelu-8.86 (13th in MLS)
  3. Marvin Chavéz-8.65 (22nd in MLS)
  4. Maicon Santos-8.63 (23rd in MLS)
  5. Brek Shea-8.59 (29th in MLS)

The five worst:

  1. Victor Ulloa-3.89 (448th in MLS)
  2. Chris Seitz–3.96 (439th in MLS)
  3. Andrew Wiedeman-4.23 (425th in MLS)
  4. Jack Stewart-4.25 (424th in MLS)
  5. Maykel Galindo-4.41 (414th in MLS)

Along with Jackson (8.06, 57th in MLS), the Hoops had a total of 6 players with a rating average that was more than 2 deviations above the league average. These players could be considered as having performed outstandingly this last year, as evidenced by Brek Shea’s Young Male Athlete of the Year award and All Star nomination, as well as George John’s eventual transfer to the Hammers.

On the other end of the spectrum, there were eleven players that performed more than 2 deviations below average, notably Daniel Cruz (5.66, 302nd in MLS), Ricardo Villar (6.24, 238th in MLS), Bobby Warshaw (5.38, 331st in MLS) and Bruno Guarda (5.32, 338th in MLS). Notable in this realm of performance is that the five lowest rated players all had less than 150 total minutes played for the season, so their ratings should be taken with a grain of salt. For example, Wiedeman’s rating was rather low, but his performance thus far this preseason suggests that last year’s rating was not as accurate as one might think.

Moving on to Dallas’ off-season transfers, I don’t have a rather good feeling about how this off-season went. Of the 6 players who showed the best performance last year, Dallas has loaned two, traded one, and declined the 2012 option on another. They also shipped off Jeremy Hall, who at a 6.79 average was a consistent performer.

The bottom 11 performers though? Of the six who had considerable minutes last season, none were moved during this offseason. The only player of the bottom 11 who was shipped off was Maykel Galindo, but his total minutes were so low that his departure is not of great importance.

The obvious questions heading into this season lie mostly with who will pick up the slack to make up for the lost performances of those four top level players. Dallas is hoping that Blas Pérez will live up to his reputation as a goal scoring, experienced striker, and that the combination of Hernán Pertúz, Carlos Rodriguez and Ugo Ihemelu will make up for some of the lost defensive performances of George John, just in case he decides he enjoys banging around with the Hammers in the Championship.

As for the departure of Marvin Chávez–the hardworking “el hijo del viento”–there would appear to be no viable replacement, unless Schellas plans on playing Fabian Castillo in his place. And Jackson? I don’t know if another great utility man exists on the roster. For my money, Jackson’s loan could be the most harmful to the team’s performance this season merely because of his energy and ability to play in almost any position that Schellas lined him up in. His will be the biggest shoes to fill.

Despite my concerns, my excitement for the season is as high as ever. I can’t wait to see what Pérez brings to our offense, and I feel like Pertúz, Rodriquez and Ihemelu have it in them to make up for John’s absence, should he eventually transfer to West Ham for good.

March can’t get here fast enough.

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