If you follow this blog at all then you know we are big Federico Higuain fans. The Columbus Crew playmaker is indispensable in a way very few others match. Earlier this week we looked at another great creative attacker, Manchester City's David Silva, and tried to use (kind of) advanced metrics to measure his passing impact. We decided to use the exact same approach as in that piece, but applied to MLS players.
To quickly summarize, passing impact is broken into two components: efficiency and volume. We define efficiency as a player's ability to create the most key passes ("shot assists") per incomplete pass. Since we are early in the 2014 season, we first looked at 2013 numbers.
This first chart ranks players by how efficiently they created key passes. Higuain led MLS in this metric. However, it is one thing to efficiently create chances, but if you only see the ball a handful of times a game (see Portland's Valencia) then that needs to be taken into account as well. We use a player's pass usage rate (# of player's passes a game divided by their team's total passes a game) to adjust for this. The following chart combines the two metrics (efficiency and volume) and represents a player's passing impact in terms of an average MLS player (exc. GK). For example, Federico Higuain's passing impact in 2013 was equivalent to approximately 4.2 average MLS players!
Although we are not even a quarter into the 2014 season, let us see what players are impressing at this stage of the season.
There is that Michael Bradley man again, constantly resetting our expectations for him. Of course we are still VERY early into the season, so it will bear watching if Bradley, Husidic(!), etc. can keep up this form.