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A Statistical Look at the 2011 Vancouver Whitecaps Reserves

Russell Teibert and Philippe Davies taking on the Seattle Sounders on a beautiful grass pitch? It can only be the MLS Reserve Division!
Russell Teibert and Philippe Davies taking on the Seattle Sounders on a beautiful grass pitch? It can only be the MLS Reserve Division!

The 2011 season marked the return of the Major League Soccer Reserve Division, a proud moment for those who had longed to get it back. Young talent on the fringe of the first team and veterans trying to get back into shape would all have the chance to play against fair competition. It was a big development in the rise of Major League Soccer towards the world-class league it so wants to become.

Well, the Reserve Division we got wound up having ten-game seasons against regional opponents. The games were spread so far apart that there was almost no lineup continuity and the Whitecaps regularly flipped which of their assistant coaches would run the team. The organization expected so little interest that the initial games were closed-door.

The MLS Reserve Division was better than nothing in 2011, but not much better. It did give the Whitecaps a chance to play a few young men of some promise but who weren't good enough to crack the first eighteen on a regular basis. They didn't play much, and it's doubtful we'll be able to draw much meaningful information from such a handful of games... but all the same, here is the Vancouver Whitecaps MLS Reserve Division statistical round-up for 2011.

This is the second part of a series. My first post, recapping the Residency's USL PDL season, is here.

2011 Whitecaps Reserves Minutes Played and Scoring Leaders
Minutes Goals Assists
Player Born Min G A Player Born Min G A Player Born Min G A
Duckett 1989 706 0 0 Salgado 1993 657 4 0 Nanchoff 1988 616 1 2
Tan 1988 702 3 1 Tan 1988 702 3 1 Morfaw 1987 657 0 2
Janicki 1984 690 0 0 Gashi 1992 90 1 0 Fisk 1993 61 0 1
Morfaw 1987 657 0 2 Jarju 1986 107 1 0 Clarke 1993 83 0 1
Salgado 1993 657 4 0 Nanchoff 1988 616 1 2 three others 1

This table gives away the problem with trying to analyze the MLS Reserve Division: there's just so few minutes spread around so many players. The Whitecaps played 44 different players across ten reserve matches; when your most-played player had just over 700 minutes that means you haven't got a lot of data to draw conclusions from. Twenty-two Whitecaps got into Reserve matches but played fewer than 100 minutes, including Wooden Spoon winner (and PDL iron man) Derrick Bassi who saw one minute against Los Angeles on July 31.

So when Bedri Gashi scores one goal in ninety minutes and winds up tied for third in Reserves scoring, does that mean that Gashi was a talented player who we were nuts to let go, or does that mean that, of the forwards, only Tan and Salgado got any significant playing time so you can't draw any conclusions. Obviously it's the latter.

Playing a lot of minutes in the Reserves doesn't necessarily mean you're important to the team either. Of the top five listed Duckett, Janicki, and Morfaw are already all gone. Khalfan and Knight were also in the top ten and have already been cut; Nolly seems certain to follow.

2011 Whitecaps Reserves Scoring Rate Leaders (minimum 150 minutes)
Goals/90 Minutes Assists/90 Minutes Goals + Assists/90 Minutes
Player Born Min G G/90 Player Born Min A A/90 Player Born Min G + A G + A/90
Salgado 1993 657 4 0.548 Nanchoff 1988 616 2 0.292 Salgado 1993 657 4 0.548
Tan 1988 702 3 0.385 Morfaw 1987 657 2 0.274 Tan 1988 702 4 0.513
Nanchoff 1988 616 1 0.146 Khalfan 1988 575 1 0.157 Nanchoff 1988 616 3 0.438
Tan 1988 702 1 0.128 Morfaw 1988 657 2 0.274
Khalfan 1988 575 1 0.157

It's good to see that Omar Salgado got results. He came in for a lot of criticism for his play at the Major League Soccer level but, on the Reserves, he was the team's leading scorer per 90 minutes. Salgado convincingly beat cult favourite Long Tan while being five years younger; of course, part of Tan's appeal is that he's a good all-rounder while Salgado is pretty much a straight-up target man but it still bodes well for Omar. Tan's own numbers aren't at all bad either.

There just aren't enough Whitecaps who played over 150 minutes and got points to draw many conclusions. A few prominent players did go pointless in the reserves, most notably Philippe Davies (630 minutes) and Russell Teibert (325 minutes, although the majority of them were at left back). Given his status as a late-season hero in the MLS season Nizar Khalfan's mediocre results deserve notice as well: Nizar's only point was an assist on August 9 against the Sounders Reserves.

2011 Whitecaps Reserves Goalkeeping Statistics
Goals Against Average Save Percentage
Player Born Sh GA GAA Player Born Sh GA S%
Cannon 1975 19 4 1.33 Cannon 1975 19 4 0.789
Nolly 1982 16? 9 1.50 Nolly 1982 16? 9 0.625?
Sylvestre 1992 ? 2 2.00

Unfortunately for our goalkeeping statistics, the MLS Reserve Division only releases shot totals for some of their games (it seems to depend on where the game was being played: all games in Vancouver, San Jose, and Portland had shot data, the rest did not). I couldn't find shots-on-goal data for June 7, October 18 (both Jay Nolly starts) and June 20 (Brian Sylvestre's only start). Therefore, while Joe Cannon's statistics are complete, Sylvestre has no shooting percentage listed and Nolly's shooting percentage only covers his games for which shots-on-goal are available on July 31, August 21, September 6, and October 3.

I hope for Nolly's sake his two missing games were pretty good since Cannon owned him on save percentage. In such a small number of games it's difficult to draw conclusions (Nolly played 360 minutes for which we have a record). Cannon's Reserves save percentage is way above his MLS percentage, while Nolly's is slightly below.

What I'm saying is that these goalkeeper statistics are almost worthless. In fact, most of these stats stink pretty bad. Aren't you glad you read all this?