Around The League With Joseph Reina // Week 12

**The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the viewpoints or positions of the Major Arena Soccer League.**



If you’ve had the pleasure of tuning in to any of the Savage’s games this season, you’d have noticed something strange. Chihuahua loves to shoot. Their games, especially at home, have that raw, “human pinball” feel, as shots, tackles, and saves blur together until suddenly, it stops, and inexplicably, it seems the Savage has found the net again.

I mentioned their propensity for shooting last week when talking about Texas, and to be honest, the numbers were so baffling, that I took way too much time and crunched even more numbers in an attempt to quantify and justify what I was seeing.

Let’s start with their shooting. With the exception of just three games this season, the Savage have consistently outshot their opponents, usually by an absurd margin. Their 38.154 shots per game are the most in the league and over 4.5 more than the next-best team. So, logically, Chihuahua should be among the top-scoring teams in the league then too, right?

Similarly to last week, I wanted to take a look at offensive efficiency in the @MASLarena, but this time around, my focus is on @SavageCUU.
Notice just how isolated the Savage are with the most shots per game by a wide margin, yet, they have the lowest goals per shot total.

— JosephReina.csv (@josephreina21) February 14, 2024

Carlos “Popper” Hernandez, Jose Gilberto Lopez, and Roberto Escalante have all taken 50 or more shots this season, yet none of them have more than nine goals. Only two players, Miguel Angel Diaz and Hugo Puentes, have hit double-digit goals, but even still, they’ve scored just 24 goals between them in 13 games. By comparison, Luiz Morales of the Texas Outlaws has scored 26 goals in 14 games. Simply put, Chihuahua, at least individually, is struggling to put the ball in the net.

To quantify this, I calculated their goals per shot along with every other team in the MASL to create a league-wide standard. This allowed me to assign every shot a value, which turned out to be 0.218. That means that for every shot a team takes, statistically, it is worth 0.218 goals. Take five shots and you should have scored a goal by now.

Jose Gilberto Lopez and Miguel Angel Diaz of the @SavageCUU with a #Wallascora each against the

— Wallascora (@Wallascora) February 10, 2024

This allows us to contextualize offensive performances. Let’s take this weekend for example. Against San Diego, Chihuahua took 45 shots so they would be expected to score 9.824 goals. In reality, they only scored eight. That’s an underperformance of 1.824 goals. Against Texas, it was a similar story. On 39 shots, they scored seven goals, 1.515 fewer than they were expected. 

I’ll add a disclaimer here. This statistic that I’ve created is in no way the same as the Expected Goal stat used in outdoor soccer. That type of locational and situational data is not available yet for indoor soccer. Despite this, I went ahead and referred to my stat as xG because I do not have a better name for it. I am open to changing it in the future as I feel it’s a great way to compare teams to each other and would like to use it without confusion going forward, so if you have any ideas, comment on my posts and I just may use it. Now, back to the data analysis.

With this data, I then multiplied every team’s average shots per game by that standardized number. This gave me a better understanding of how many goals each team should be scoring. I did this both on offense and defense to establish which teams overperform where, and what emerged was a relatively scattered grid.

By finding the @MASLarena average for goals per shot, we can create a very low-level form of expected goals.
That average, 0.218, becomes a standardized shot value. So for every shot a team takes, multiply by that number to get your xG/xGA.
It's rudimentary but it's a start.

— JosephReina.csv (@josephreina21) February 14, 2024

Monterrey, San Diego, and Texas are above average in both categories but if you look at the bottom right quadrant, you’ll see Chihuahua, dead last in the offensive metric. They have the lowest shot-to-goal percentage in the league at just 56%, nine percent lower than the league average. So why are they not struggling? Simply put, they shoot more than everyone else and their defense is suffocating opponents, hiding their offensive struggles in the process.

While @SavageCUU plays the numbers game in attack, their defense leaves nothing up to chance.
They force their opponents into difficult shots and their above-average keepers clean up the rest.
As a result, Chihuahua has the highest xG differential in the @MASLarena by 1.227.

— JosephReina.csv (@josephreina21) February 14, 2024

The Savage has the third-best defense using our xG model, only behind the Flash and Comets, conceding 1.368 fewer goals per game than expected. Their rapid and manic style earns blocks, forcing opponents into tougher shots, and as a last line of defense, Diego Reynoso has been spectacular since joining mid-season. The 35-year-old’s 79.1 Save Percentage leads the league and his 2.92 Goals Against Average is the lowest in the league, by over a goal per game.

They are truly spectacular in both respects. They’re playing the numbers game and against every team not called Monterrey, they’re winning. Based on this pace, it truly should be Ron Newman Cup Finals or bust for the reigning champions. Up to this point, Chihuahua has played just two games in the United States, but seven of their last 11 games will be north of the border, starting with a trip to Kansas City to face the Comets on Friday, Feb. 16 at 8:05 p.m. EST.


It’s time to give Tacoma the respect they deserve. Down their star man, Nick Perera, due to an injury he sustained in the match, the Stars staved off the Comets on the road in the league’s first shootout this season. It wasn’t easy; far from it, but without their talisman, Tacoma proved the doubters wrong.

Despite their seven-game losing streak going into the match, Kansas City is undoubtedly one of the better teams in this league. When looking at the data, similarly to Chihuahua, their defense stands out significantly. Their opponents have the second-fewest shots on target per shot, and their keepers, Nicolau Neto and Phillip Ejimadu, have combined for the third-highest team save percentage.

All this is to say that scoring five regulation goals against the Comets at Cable Dahmer Arena is far from easy. Now, take Perera out of the equation, and it becomes a monumental task. Including just his goals and assists, Perera has been directly involved in 42% of Tacoma’s goals this season, so take him away and it's fair to have questions regarding where the goals will come from.

Despite those questions, the Stars rose to the occasion across the turf with a true team effort to force overtime and win in the ensuing shootout. Chris Toth’s 22 saves proved huge to keep the Comets offense at bay. He also came up big with two saves in the shootout allowing 21-year-old Nani Mendoza to be the hero with not one, but two clutch goals. If you haven’t seen them yet, they’re definitely worth the watch.


— MASL (@MASLarena) February 10, 2024

Against St. Louis, they rolled to a comfortable 12-6 victory, with their most goals scored in a single game so far this season. It’s a sign to not count Tacoma out. They’re battle-tested as Toth said earlier this year on MASL Monday, and they’re used to close games. Seven of their 13 games this season have been decided by two goals or less, with three of those coming against Monterrey and San Diego. They can compete, there’s no doubt about it, so count them out at your own risk.

With Perera, the Stars are actually among the most clinical offenses in the league, scoring a goal once every four shots, but something strange is happening on defense. Tacoma’s opponents are taking the second-fewest shots per game, just behind the Sockers, but somehow, they’re conceding over a goal more per game than they should be based on xG.

To figure out how which @MASLarena defenses are best at preventing goals, let's compare shots per game, shots on target per shot, and goals per shot (GPS).
This tells us which teams give up the fewest and least dangerous shots, with only GPS factoring in goalkeeper performance.

— JosephReina.csv (@josephreina21) February 14, 2024

We already know they’ve got an above-average goalkeeper between the pipes, so either Tacoma’s opponents have been getting lucky, or the Stars give up way too many dangerous shots in defense. When we look at opponents’ shots on target per shot, the Stars have the league’s worst record with a staggering 79.2% testing the keeper. That’s 13.8% higher than the league average. They’ve only had one game below that mean, which happened to be this weekend against St. Louis.

If they can find a way to address this issue, there’s every chance the Stars can win big games, but until then, they’ll be fighting an increasingly uphill battle. In the absence of Perera due to injury, as well as Toth and Alessandro Canale who are playing in the FIFA Beach World Cup until Feb. 19 at least, the rest of this team will have to come together to set a goal for the rest of this road trip and find a way to achieve it.

After these confidence-boosting wins against Kansas City and St. Louis, the Stars will again be on the road this week, traveling down to Dallas to face the Sidekicks on Friday before facing Monterrey at Arena Borregos on Sunday. They’ve proven they can go toe to toe with the Flash in Washington, but can they do it on the road without Perera? We’ll see this weekend.