Friday, June 15, 2012

Mind the Net: The LA Galaxy and Their Goalkeeping (Problem)

It's hard being a goalkeeper.  I remember when I used to play competitively in my youth our goalkeeper would always cry when he gave up a goal, as if he had let the whole team down.  It is an unenviable task, being held accountable to make amazing saves look routine. 

That said, it is apparent to anyone who has seen the reigning MLS Champion Los Angeles Galaxy play this season that their goalkeeping has been poor.  Very poor.  How bad?  Well, let these statistics tell the tale.  I looked at every goalie in the MLS who had started at least three games.  I then subtracted all penalties from their statistics because they distort a goalie's save percentage (saves/shots on goal).  Here is what I found:

It obviously doesn't look very good for the Galaxy goalkeepers.  I understand that not every shot on goal is created equal and that it is up to the defense to make it difficult for an offense to score.  However, you need look no further than the difference between Bill Hamid and Joe Willis of DC United to see how important a goalie can be:  Hamid had more saves in three less games started than Willis while allowing just over a third the number of goals.  Yea, goalkeeping matters. 

I took it a step further with the Galaxy and wanted to know what would happen if they had an average MLS goalie (Donovan Ricketts?) as opposed to the TWO WORST goalies in MLS?

So what is the verdict? Nearly five more goals allowed over the season (.37 a game)  than is necessary.  People can talk all they want about how Donovan or Keane or Beckham or Buddle is not performing up to expectations.  Or how Omar Gonzalez' injury has decimated their defense, but the evidence seems pretty clear to this point that the LA Galaxy have a pretty big goalkeeping problem that they better figure out soon. That is, if they want to make the MLS Playoffs, let alone repeat as champions.

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