Final Word On Galaxy vs. Sporting: Shot On Goal Is a Dirty Liar of a Statistic

Ap 7, 2012; Kansas City, KS, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Robbie Keane (7) moves the ball against Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi (8) in the first half at Livestrong Sporting Park. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

There has been much ado since last Saturday about the LA Galaxy failing to get a shot on goal on Saturday against Sporting Kansas City. In my first year covering the Galaxy, I asked Landon Donovan after a game about the Galaxy not getting a shot on goal until after halftime. He responded that shots on goal is a deceitful statistic. A shot straight at the keeper is a shot on goal, while a shot trying to fit inside the far post that goes wide is a shot off target.

By definition these are correct things, the same as balls and strikes in baseball or completions and incompletions in American football. What all of these statistics have in common is that they never tell the complete story. Did the Galaxy lack a shot necessitating a save on Saturday? Sure. Did the Galaxy have a chance at a goal? Yes, a few.

One interesting thing about the shots on Saturday, neither of the players who started at forward on Saturday took a shot. That to me is way more significant than a lack of shots on goal. Robbie Keane did assist on Mike Magee's best attempt on goal in the 7'. Keane corralled a pass out of the air, with Mike Magee making a trailing run to his left. From about 25 yards out to the keeper's right, Keane rolled the ball to Mike Magee well inside the box. Magee takes the shot with his weaker foot (left) with Jimmy Nielson sliding in to meet him. The attempt went well wide of the far post, but it was a convertible chance. Nielson is a step slower or Magee gets to that ball a step sooner and it's Galaxy 1 - SKC 0 seven minutes into the match.

The Galaxy didn't have another attempt in the box until the 82' of the match. That's another telling statistic. I know it's considered a faux pas in the soccer world to use other sports to explain soccer things, but I'm trying to be inclusive so not getting attempts from in the box for a seventy minute stretch is like not getting any points from the paint in a basketball game outside your first and last shot.

It means that SKC's back line did a great job of clogging the box, which means the Galaxy didn't get good high percentage looks on the goal for most of the match. That second legit attempt came when Kyle Nakazawa flicked on a lobbed ball from Marcelo Sarvas up to Chad Barrett in the box, with Barrett's left footed attempt also going wide of the far post.

This was a heart crushing miss. Barrett had time, he was all alone in the box. Barrett, who scored twice in the reserve league match earlier in the week, took his touch and then was unsure of whether to go for goal or cross to Keane. He ended up doing neither and the Galaxy didn't equalize.

So, thanks to Opta Sports' Chalkboard, we can see that the Galaxy had a chance to go ahead and a chance to equalize. In an ideal game would there be more than two legit chances? Absolutely. But it's not accurate to say the Galaxy never had a shot on goal, thus the Galaxy lacked any form of offense.

What can be said is the starting forwards were unable to get the ball inside the box with a chance to shoot all match. That can't happen. Chad Barrett needs to be more decisive on the ball in matches that count. Mike Magee is fine, it took a great play from Nielson to stop that attempt. Which is the other thing. Nielson didn't have a recorded save, but he certainly stopped the Galaxy's best threat in the first half. So it's completely dishonest to see zero saves and say Nielson didn't have to do anything all match.

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