MLS Cup 2012 Eve: Stats show Galaxy with possession advantage

Harry How

Robbie Keane continues his role as the Galaxy's most prolific scorer, and today's Opta stats show the Galaxy are much better at holding on to the ball.

With MLS Cup 2012 but a day away, it's time to look through another set of Opta stats. Today's batch deal mostly with possession, but also with the Galaxy's top goalscorer. Keane spoke today on his partnership with Landon Donovan and how it's helped him to be the prolific goalscorer he was this season.

"You can see the way the two of us link up and we’re [always] on the same wavelength. That makes it very easy to play together...Certainly most of my goals this year come down to Landon. He’s a great player and I’m very very lucky to play alongside him."

Much was made of the midfield battle as well, though Donovan believed that the match was won all over; not just in the midfield. Certainly if that is where the match is decided, the Galaxy have plenty of player who can hold and recover the ball. They also have a player who can score from outside the final offensive third.

Opta reported today that no player in MLS has taken more shots from outside the box this MLS season than Juninho with 47. The Brazilian hasn't scored in the playoffs, but his ability to curl one in from distance means teams have to respect the long range shots that can come from him and David Beckham.

The LA Galaxy have benefited from their ability to hold onto the ball all year. The club has been tackled the fewest number of times (553) in MLS this season (including playoffs). Even in matches where the Galaxy have looked awful, like against Seattle in the back leg of the Conference Final, the Galaxy were the cleaner team only getting tackled nine times and winning fifteen.

Houston on the other hand are one of the worst clubs in MLS when it comes to ball control. The Dynamo have had the lowest dribble success rate (34.9%) in MLS this season (including playoffs). Against DC United in the back leg, Houston were tackled 16 times with only 6 successful dribbles. That would be a success rate of less than 30%.

So LA will have the benefit of the ability to hold the ball, even if Houston decides to press them the way Seattle did. The final stat is more just for fun, but Dynamo's Brad Davis and Galaxy's Robbie Keane are tied for the MLS lead with 8 left-footed goals apiece. Keane scored one thus far in the playoffs with his left foot, right in front of goal.

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