Real Salt Lake attack surging with young guns | Expected Goals

Real Salt Lake had a fascinating Week 20, starting with a dominant 4-1 win on the road in Portland and ending with one of the most infamous press conferences we have ever seen in MLS.

Of course, this comes after a dreadful start to the season when RSL went 2-7-2 and saw head coach Jeff Cassar depart the club after just three games. But the results over the past week show that there are many reasons for hope in Utah.

The attacking trio of Joao Plata, Albert Rusnak and Jefferson Savarino has been one of the league’s most exciting since Savarino joined the club in the middle of May. Since then, they have combined for a total of 10 goals and nine assists in just over 2,500 combined minutes.

RSL ranks in the top five in MLS in expected goals per game since the arrival of Savarino, with their 1.45 expected goals per game only behind the Chicago Fire, New England Revolution, Toronto FC and New York City FC. This means they would be expected to score 1.45 goals per game on average based on their quality of chances. The fact that they have scored “only” 1.58 goals per game over those 12 games means they have overperformed a little, but not the degree of many other teams. That average ranks them 10th over the same time span.

The leader in creating all those quality chances has been Plata, whose 8.81 combined expected goals and assists only trails Chicago’s Nemanja Nikolic since May 12. His 2.49 chances created from open play per 90 minutes since then leads MLS, while Rusnak’s average of four total chances created per 90 minutes also leads MLS.

With this kind of play, head coach Mike Petke has a lot to look forward to over the last half of the season.

Two important notes before looking at Week 20’s xG numbers: Penalties have a value of .79, and own goals are not factored into the values.

Game Result Home xG Away xG
New York City FC vs. Toronto FC 2-2 1.18 2.39
New York Red Bulls vs. San Jose Earthquakes 5-1 1.22 1.16
Montreal Impact…

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