The question surrounding the new look Crew of 2014 is one of offense. Even with Federico Higuain creating chances and Dominic Oduro finishing them, Columbus struggled to score with regularity. The team did miss Eddie Gaven and his replacements didn't light up the scoreboard, but the main difference was the poor form of Jairo Arrieta.
I decided to blow the dust off my calculator and take a look at Arrieta's shooting numbers during his time with the Columbus Crew. Statistics in soccer are not as reliable as they are in other sports and it doesn't take Matt Damon from Goodwill Hunting to see 2012 and 2013 were dramatically different seasons for Arrieta. He struggled to score goals in 2013, that much is obvious, but the question as to why he struggled is not always as easy to understand. Let's first look at a few numbers that may help us view his lack of goals in a somewhat clearer light.
In the 2012 season, Arrieta shot the ball 41 times. Recorded as minutes played per shot (mps)*
- 1543 min. played/41 = 37.6 mps
In the 2013 season Arrieta shot the ball 64 times.
- 1862 min. played/64= 29 Mbps
This is where things start to get interesting when looking at Arrieta's two seasons. In 2013, he was shooting the ball at a higher rate than in 2013. This would suggest that his lack of success in front of goal does not stem from a lack of service, as he was finding the time and space to pull the trigger at a higher rate in 2013 than in 2012. As is often the case, forwards largely dependent on the service they receive as to how successful they are in front of goal. While the numbers cannot quantify the quality of shots he was taking because not all shots are the same, they do suggest he was getting the chance to venture a shot at goal at a higher frequency in 2013 than he was in 2012.
The next logical progression is to look at how often his shots struck the target. His goal total from 2013 would seem to indicate that he would be more likely to miss the target rather than hit it. Let's see. (minute played per shot on goal, mpsg)
Shots on Target 2012
- 1543 min. played/18 shots on goal= 85.7 mpsg
Shots on Target 2013
- 1862 min. played/21 shots on goal= 88.6 mpsg
Again, there is not a big difference in his two seasons (85.7 mpsg/88.6 mpsg). While he shot the ball more frequently in 2013, his rate in which hit the target stayed relatively the same. This again seems to support that he was getting similar quality of shots in 2013 as he was in 2012. If he was hitting the target at a much lower frequency we could infer that he was attempting more reckless and or more speculative shots.
So, if Arrieta is shooting at a higher rate in 2013, and hitting the target about the same amount, then his finishing skills would seem to be the biggest difference between 2012 and 2013. The last thing we are going to look at, is how often he shot the ball, and it resulted in a goal (shot per goal, spg).
Goal Shots in 2012
- 41 shots/ 9 goals = 4.5 spg
Goal Shots in 2013
- 64 shots/ 3 goals =21.3 spg
This is clearly the biggest difference between his two seasons. While every 4.5 shots he attempted he found the net in 2012, it took 21.3 shots in 2013 to do the same.
Did we learn anything from these basic numbers? Well, we did learn that Arrieta shot the ball more, and hit the target at a similar rate in 2013 as he did in 2012. However, he struggled to beat the keeper when he did steer a shot on target. So it is clear that Arrieta struggled to finish his chances in 2013. The key for Arrieta this season will not be getting the chances to score but finding the finishing boots he had from 2012.