Thursday, March 01, 2007

Foreign Talent In MLS: Goals By Nationality

Previously, I looked at the number of foreign players in MLS history, including which countries supplied the most talent. Using the same criteria as before, I decided to figure out how many goals came from each country and confederation.

This time, I'm only concerned with goals scored in the MLS regular season. So instead of looking at all 1,006 players to ever play for an MLS team like last time, I'm using 995 this time. That's the number of guys who have played in the regular season. FYI, the 11 guys left out are:

Ivan Becerra, Mexico
Alex Dixon, Panama
Jorge Geddes, Malawi
Taly Goode, USA
Ryan McMahen, USA
Mike Mucino, USA
Matt Nyman, USA
Miguel Saavedra, USA
Stephen Shirley, USA
McKinley Tennyson, USA
Nick Van Sicklen, USA

All those played for MLS teams but not in the regular season. Ok, so of the 995 players we're looking at, the domestic/foreign breakdown is 599/396. There have been 5,726 goals in regular season history, 105 of which are own goals and not included in this analysis. The remaining 5,621 break down to 3,259/2,362. Here's a table to describe what I just wrote:


Players Goals
Domestic 60.2% 58.0%
Foreign 39.8% 42.0%

So foreign players have scored a bigger percentage of goals than they should have. That's the conclusion I and probably everyone else reading this expected. Big name foreigners are more likely to be attacking players. It also seems unlikely that 39.8% of MLS goalkeepers have been foreigners, so that alone could make up for the difference.


Top Confederations



Goals PCT
1 CONCACAF 909 38.5%
2 CONMEBOL 777 32.9%
3 UEFA 406 17.2%
4 CAF 245 10.4%
5 OFC 20 0.8%
6 AFC 5 0.2%

CAF = Africa and AFC = Asia in case you get those two mixed up. Also, PCT is of the number of foreign goals only. Let's compare that to the breakdown of players by confederation.



Players PCT
1 CONCACAF 142 35.9%
2 CONMEBOL 100 25.3%
3 UEFA 92 23.2%
4 CAF 53 13.4%
5 OFC 5 1.3%
6 AFC 4 1.0%

When you compare the difference between the two, here's what you get.

1 CONMEBOL 7.6%
2 CONCACAF 2.6%
3 OFC -0.4%
4 AFC -0.8%
5 CAF -3.0%
6 UEFA -6.0%

What this means is that CONMEBOL has scored 7.6% more of the total number of foreign goals that you expect based solely on the number of players they have had. On the flip side, European players have underperformed the most. Or, maybe teams are less likely look to Europe for attacking players.


Goals By Country

1 El Salvador 220
2 Colombia 173
3 Bolivia 164
4 Jamaica 125
5 Ecuador 117
6 Mexico 110
7 Brazil 105
8 Trinidad 103
9 Argentina 99
10 Guatemala 90
11 Scotland 74
11 Venezuela 74
13 Poland 73
14 Honduras 69
15 Canada 57
16 South Africa 53
17 Costa Rica 48
18 Senegal 47
19 Ukraine 44
20 Zimbabwe 37
21 Liberia 29
22 Uruguay 27
23 Haiti 26
23 Sierra Leone 26
25 Bulgaria 24
26 Denmark 23
27 St. Vincent 22
28 Armenia 20
28 Ireland 20
28 Italy 20
28 New Zealand 20
32 Ghana 19
33 Panama 17
34 Czech 16
34 England 16
36 Netherlands 15
37 France 12
37 Russia 12
39 Grenada 11
40 Peru 10
41 Nigeria 9
42 Chile 8
42 Israel 8
44 Cape Verde 6
44 Mozambique 6
46 Cameroon 5
46 Iran 5
46 Sweden 5
49 Austria 4
49 Bermuda 4
49 St. Kitts 4
52 Botswana 3
52 Croatia 3
52 Nothern Ireland 3
52 Romania 3
52 Slovakia 3
57 Morocco 2
57 Serbia 2
57 Switzerland 2
57 Togo 2
57 Turks & Caicos 2
62 Belgium 1
62 Cuba 1
62 Finland 1
62 Hungary 1
62 Mali 1
62 Spain 1

This to me is the most interesting part of this post. El Salvador has supplied MLS with more goals than any other country. All that despite only six players from that country actually playing in the league. They are:

82-Raul Diaz Arce
80-Ronald Cerritos
35-Mauricio Cienfuegos
25-Jorge Rodriguez
5-Eliseo Quintanilla
2-Marvin Quijano

Colombia is pretty balanced with Diego Serna leading the way. Unlike the top two however, Bolivia is there mostly due to Jaime Moreno. He's scored 105 of their 164 goals. Also, a lot of countries are there solely due to the goalscoring exploits of one man. The highest of those is Senegal at #18 (thanks to Mamadou Diallo).

Another fascinating stat involves Mexico. First of all, finishing 6th is surprising enough considering that they rank 1st in the total number of MLS foreign players (8 more than any other country). It's also funny when you think about all the foreign names they've brought in at huge prices. But what amazed me the most was when I realized who the top Mexican goalscorer in MLS history was: Damian from the Dallas Burn. Not Hermosillo, Hernandez, Palencia or Sanchez; but Damian with all of 15 goals. He's more famously known as the only guy in MLS history to score a goal directly off a corner kick, which occurred in the most lopsided game in league history (DAL 1:8 LA back in 1998).

Uganda deserves a special mention because they have had five MLS players, and yet no goals. Those men are Tenywa Bonseu, Peter Byaruhanga, Joel Kitamirike, Eugene Sepuya, and Robert Ssejjemba. Ok, the four other than Bonseu have 9 MLS games between them, but you figure Tenywa would've put one away. He's on the top ten list of most games played without scoring.

I should also note that these numbers could actually go down in the future based on the way I'm calculating this. I'm going by which national team a player plays for, or what country they were from. So if Dema Kovalenko became an American citizen and played for the USA, Ukraine's total would go from 44 to 14. But it's unlikely to affect more than a handful of players.

Comments on "Foreign Talent In MLS: Goals By Nationality"

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:02 PM, March 01, 2007) : 

Id be curious to see this further broken down between 96-01 and 02-06

 

Anonymous FlapJack said ... (6:47 PM, March 01, 2007) : 

It appears your analsis compares % of players by nationality, % players by conference, with corresponding % of goals by nationality and conference. If this is the case, I would suggest using % all minutes played or % of all game appearances rather than % of players. Depending on many factors (e.g. distance from family, ease of adjustment, oppurtunities to play soccer professionally in home nation) this number may very significantly from % of players.

 

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