Friday, March 29, 2013

Sub Watch: Game 5

Unfortunately, this Graphic Describes neither the Red Bulls nor My Contest Idea

First off, an update on the SUB WATCH predictor contest. While I knew it would be incredibly popular, I had no idea that it would garner TWO entries! Okay, so my eyes may have been bigger than my stomach on this one but, all the same, shame you. Shame on all of you. This is why we can’t have nice things. I refuse to prolong this farce so will pre-empt things by awarding a participation beverage to both entrants,  Matt Kremkau and James Justice. Thanks, guys and congratulations! Winning always feels great, right? DM me on Twitter to claim your prizes.

Two-Week Recap
Moving on. Two games have taken place since the last SUB WATCH, from which the Red Bulls garnered a single point in the home draw with DC. While there hasn’t been any scoring from New York, there has been plenty of sub action, and those who followed the SUB WATCH advice have raked in some cash.

As a reminder, SUB WATCH told you to Hold Jonny Steele, Buy Moreno and Lade, and take the Under at 80’. Lo and behold, against DC, Young Connor Lade entered the game in the 89th minute, replacing Eric Alexander, and Moreno came in at 92’ for Monsieur Henry. They were preceded by Juninho at 68’ for Steele. That’s 3 for 4, kids. If you did not come away a winner, you have only yourself to blame.

Much like the Red Bulls, the results were not as strong from the Montreal match. Once again, YCL was subbed in, replacing Steele at 69’. Josue Martinez and Lloyd Same saw action at 79’ and 83’ respectively.

More for the punters below, but let’s take a closer look at what’s happening in terms of sub production for each game.

Eric Alexander had a standout game in the midfield, stat-wise, completing 28 of 33 passes (85%), including 2 “key passes.” He also had two shots, though off target. YCL was going to be hard-pressed to perform similarly, especially coming on so late in the game. He really had no statistically significant production, going 0 for 3 on dribbles and 0 for 1 on passing. The only category where Lade came close to matching Alexander was in “tackle and possession lost,” where he racked up 5 compared to Alexander’s 7 in a fraction of the minutes.

The competition between Jonny Steele and Juninho was MUCH fiercer. Steele had a very active day, completing 27 of 37 passes (72%), 2 of 5 successful crosses, 2 key passes and 2 shots (off target.) Juninho was up to the task, completing 18 of 21 passes (86%!) with 1 key pass and 1 successful cross. The Brazilian did pick up a yellow card as well. However, he was better in keeping possession, only losing the ball on 6 tackles (1 loss per 6 minutes) compared to Steele’s 14 (1 per 4.9 mn).

As for Moreno replacing Henry, I’ll let the heat maps tell the tale:


In the great white north, Steele again had a very active game, going 22 of 32 on passes, but had possession troubles again, losing the ball 13 times in 69 minutes of action—nearly identical to the DC game. He also picked up a yellow. YCL was much better this game, going 9 for 12 on passes (75%) and only losing the ball 3 times on tackles.

In his debut appearance, Peguy impressed with an efficient if not flashy game. This was born out by the stats, where he went 21 of 24 on passes, an 87.5% success rate, beating Juninho’s DC performance. He also had 4 shots (2 on goal).  There’s no way Martinez was going to have that sort of game, but he did well in about 16 minutes of playing time, completing 3 of 4 passes.

Finally, Red Bulls fans saw the return of Lloyd Sam to the pitch, when he subbed in for a busy Eric Alexander. While RBNY didn’t come close to dominating Montreal they way they did DC, you can’t blame Alexander’s work rate: 44 of 54 passes completed, including 1 “through ball;” 3 of 5 successful dribbles and 2 shots, both off target.  Alexander was frequently dispossessed, losing the ball 13 times and picking up a yellow. Sam completed 2 of 3 passes and lost possession once.

For The Punters
So what do the above stats tell us for future money making opportunities? While I must remind you that SUB WATCH is for informational purposes only, and all wagering is at your own risk, I do think there is some good data here.

Juninho clearly had the best performance of all 6 subs, but he should return to the starting lineup soon. That means Jonny Steele and Eric Alexander are the two bench candidates. Between the two, I think Steele is likely to ride the pines, as Petke feels more comfortable with him in a central role, and as a tougher presence late in the game. His work rate, like Alexanders, has been impressive, so his value has increased. STEELE: BUY

What was more noticeable to me was the return of Young Connor Lade. Whether he had a foot in Petke’s doghouse or not, 2 successive appearances after zero in the first two games shows the tide has turned. In fact, he has rocketed to the top of the Sub Minutes Played chart with 31! We may also see him called into defensive action after Barklage’s red card. You can still pick up Lade on the cheap, but not for much longer. LADE: BUY

What of Lloyd Sam? A player who was obviously in the doghouse? I wouldn’t be laying a ton of cash on the Englishman, but was surprised to see him get some time, even with the Red Bulls shorthanded. I say SAM: HOLD

That’s all well and good, but there is better opportunity with Petke. In each of the last two games, he has set new marks for latest first sub, 68’ vs. DC and 69’ vs Montreal.  Could we see 70’ against Philthy? SUB WATCH thinks so. FIRST SUB: OVER 69’

Petke also reversed a trend, with an early last sub at 83’, but the red card may have influenced that. Otherwise, Petke’s final sub has come at minute 92 or higher! Will fans soon be pining for Hans Backe?

Well, that’s all the sub news that’s fit to print. I’ll see you at the Cathedral of Football, Red Bull Arena (Built by Makita) to watch the mighty Red Bulls defeat Philthadelphia. SUB WATCH, out!

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