What Expected Goals can tell us about Week 5’s results

Columbus Crew SC welcomed Orlando City SC to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday. Despite the fact that the Lions produced more shots and more shots on goal, passed with more accuracy in all categories and completed more than 100 passes in their attacking third, the home side walked away 2-0 winners and now stand atop the Eastern Conference standings.

Justin Meram was the star of this one, bagging a brace that extends his red-hot start to the campaign – and the expected goals numbers provided by Opta underline just what a strong run of form the Michigan native and Iraq international has found.

The xG stats for the match show that while the two sides attempted nearly 1,000 passes between them, clear scoring chances were few and far between, with Columbus tabbing 0.36 xG and Orlando at 0.50. This means that between the team, the two teams would not have been expected to score on average given their chance quality.

That suggests a marginal advantage for OCSC, but Meram’s class on the ball and calm finishing helped him carve out two canny finishes on quick Crew SC transitions. And he’s been doing it all season: On balance this year, Meram – with three strikes to his credit over five games – is overperforming at more than a goal ahead of his individual xG of 1.99.

Over in the nation’s capital, D.C. United committed the highway robbery of the weekend, taking their first win of the season with a 2-1 defeat of the Philadelphia Union despite the visitors reaping an xG of 1.47 compared to D.C.’s 1.15. The Union enjoyed 57 percent of possession, directed nine shots on frame and like Orlando in Ohio, were superior in every passing category.

Unfortunately for them, United goalkeeper Bill Hamid had no interest in allowing Philly’s statistical dominance to be rewarded on the scoreboard. Hamid made seven saves, several of them spectacular, to steady his team’s ship while inflicting further frustration on the still-winless Union.

Two important notes before looking at Week 5’s xG numbers: Penalties have a value of .79, and own goals are not factored into the values.


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