Statistics are hardly the straw the stirs soccer the way it does so many other American sports. But there are certainly numbers the rise above others in significance.
Periodically, I like to pour carefully through the stack of stats and draw a circle around a few of them.
From Major League Soccer’s latest stats pack, here are some potentially talkers, and what makes them so.
- San Jose bully-boy center back Victor Bernardez will miss Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier versus the United States for a yellow card accumulation (well, “accumulation” being two when it comes to World Cup qualifying). A surprise? Nah … not if you consider than Bernardez is tied atop the leaders with six cautions.
- A big difference in FC Dallas this year and FC Dallas’ version of 2012: the ability to see out the results, to properly manage matches in late minutes. Result: Dallas is a league-best 6-0-0 in one-goal games.
- Bruce Arena and the Galaxy may be correct to complain about the alleged foul that led to Marcelo Sarvas’ dodgy yellow card late in last week’s match against Real Salt Lake. (We went over that one here.) But! … Sarvas does foul a lot. And he has probably deserved another card or two along the way for persistent fouling. So, karmic justice? Either way, he leads the league in fouls committed with 42.
- Dallas’ David Ferreira (pictured) leads the league in fouls suffered with 43. But Columbus’ Eddie Gaven is second with 38, and he has played in two or three fewer matches than the leaders around him. That just helps underscore how much the Crew will miss that guy; Gaven recently suffered an ACL tear.
(MORE: MLS Preview — Portland hosting Dallas)
- Most eye-popping stat out there: There have been 12 own goals in MLS this year. Vancouver has four of them! Man, they should kick one to start the match just to get the damn thing over with.
- You know how everybody kept expecting this big goalkeeper battle in New York once Ryan Meara got past his injury, and how we thought he was almost ready in preseason? Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles has started more matches (16) than any other player in the league.
- New England’s Bobby Shuttleworth has the league’s top saves percentage, 80.4. Tough to say, but longtime Revs backstopper Matt Reis is going to have a tough, tough time ever getting that job back.
- D.C. United has gone 295 minutes without a goal in league matches. Not to worry; they’ve got some time before matching New England’s 394-minute scoreless skid earlier this year.
Jamie Vardy has joined several Leicester City voices in refuting claims that he helped usher in the dismissal of championship-winning manager Claudio Ranieri.
Vardy led the Foxes in scoring during last season’s run to the Premier League title, but has struggled to follow that success this season. He has five goals in 22 matches.
[ MORE: Ranieri – “My dream died” ]
Ranieri was fired this week with Leicester on the verge of dipping into the relegation zone, where they now sit ahead of Monday’s match against Liverpool.
Vardy wants the world to know this wasn’t his preference, saying, “There is speculation I was involved in his dismissal and this is completely untrue, unfounded and is extremely hurtful!”
Harry Kane spent the first half hour of Sunday’s tilt versus Stoke torturing the visiting Potters.
Kane opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Christian Eriksen bobbled Dele Alli‘s pass into the 18, but Ryan Shawcross‘ barely hit his clearance and Kane took a touch before belting home for the advantage.
[ WATCH: Spurs-Stoke live, replay ]
His second was lovely, bounding a low volley between the legs of Victor Wanyama and by a diving Lee Grant.
The third carried a bit of luck, with his low free kick taking a turn off the leg of wall end Peter Crouch to elude a lunging Grant. 3-0.
Here are the first and third, too:
The EFL Cup has named its team of the tournament ahead of Sunday morning’s final between Southampton and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.
Liverpool and Southampton lead the way with two players each, while finalists Manchester United have just one player in the team.
[ MORE: Whitecaps acquire Brek Shea ]
That’s Ander Herrera, who joins a midfield with Sofiane Boufal (Saints), Mohamed Diame (Newcastle United), and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal).
Up top are Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge and Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham, the latter for his work at Bristol City.
The back four is led by Saints’ Maya Yoshida and Hull City’s Harry Maguire, with Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) and Matty Pearson (Accrington Stanley) joining the unit.
The backstop is Leeds United’s Marco Silvestri.
The penultimate Premier League match of the weekend pits Stoke City against third-place Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane on Sunday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
Jan Vertonghen is back alongside Toby Alderweireld in the heart of Spurs’ back line, and it’s no surprise that PL Download stars Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris also start.
Geoff Cameron‘s four-month layoff appears to be reaching its end, as the USMNT back is on the subs bench for Stoke City. He last played on Oct. 22.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Walker, Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Wanyama, Dembele, Eriksen, Alli, Kane. Subs: Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Winks, Sissoko, Son, Janssen.
Stoke City: Grant; Bardsley, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Whelan, Adam; Arnautovic, Allen, Ramadan; Crouch. Subs: Given; Muniesa, Berahino, Afellay, Diouf, Cameron, Imbula.