Wall Street Football

The American Dream

The MLS Championship has begun and between market hits, new clubs added to the roster like Charlotte F.C. and many interesting young players will be very competitive until the last game.

The highlight of this year is Toronto’s acquisition of former Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne, the highest player paid in the Championship.

Instead in Los Angeles, to join an old familiar face of European’s league like Chicharito Hernández, has landed Douglas Costa, a player limited by injuries over the years in search of a new life in football. 

The Galaxy’s move was not delayed by the response of city rivals Los Angeles FcìC who signed Juventus former captain Giorgio Chiellini as well as multiple Champions League winner Gareth Bale.

But not only former top European players, also new talents from South America. Atlanta has made the most expensive signing ever in the league, bringing young midfielder Thiago Almada from Velez for 16 million to Georgia, who was followed by many European Clubs.

Among the young stars in the league, two players are showing up above the others: Jesús Ferreira player of Dallas FC and Valentín Castellanos from New York City FC. Both with South American origins and both top scorers of their teams with 10 and 8 goals scored respectively.

The Argentine striker is coming from his best season in which he won the championship with his team and the Golden Boot Award with 19 goals. Market rumours claim proposals are coming from many clubs, especially from Italy and Spain.

On the other hand, the Colombian-born naturalized American comes from an opposite situation in which the team did not reach the playoffs and changed coach during the previous season.

The Dallas player is the first in MLS history to become a “designated player” from his own team’s youth academy: also known as the “Beckham rule”, it allows each team in the league to exceed the salary cap for just 3 players.

On the pitch he made an important evolution in his role that has led him to impose himself this year. 

The process he underwent is similar to what João Pedro did, who started as an attacking midfielder, then became firstly a second striker and finally the main striker. As in the case of the Italo-Brazilian, the player has had a major development in terms of scoring

In his career he has played 43 times as an offensive playmaker scoring 12 goals with 9 assists, while playing as a striker in 32 games he made 14 goals and 7 assists. It is clear that getting closer to the goal helps him from the point of view of scoring, but his technique and vision still allow him to be a reference for his teammates and send them successfully on goal equally.

His touches per game decreased between 2021 and 2022 from 54 to 33.6 per game, as did the passes made in the opponent’s half of the field from 18.5 with 69% accuracy to 10.6 (still with 65% of precision). 

He doubled his stats of goal per match from 0.3 to 0.6 with 2.2 shots of which 0.9 on goal this year and an impressive shot conversion rate (of 26.3 compared to 14.3 in the Season 2021. 

In 16 games this year playing 81.05 minutes per match, he averaged 22.7 passes( of which 16.8 were successful, and 1.17 key passes. With 10 goals (3 of them in 10 minutes against Portland) and 4 assists, he managed an average WSF Performance Index of 6.3, while in the previous season he made 8 goals and 8 assists in the whole championship.

Ferreira WSF Performance Index – MLS 2022

Far fewer duels won from 3.9 to 2.1, but also far fewer balls lost from 13.7 to 9.2. 

Furthermore, he raised the percentage of successful dribbles from 61% to 80% with fewer attempts from 1.0 to 0.7, making him among the league leaders considering also how many balls he touches is an impressive data: still at the centre of the manouvre of his team, but with more effectiveness in his stats.

The Mendoza-born striker is coming off an impressive season not only in terms of scoring but also for their significance and importance.

He scored 3 goals in 3 playoff matches, the last one in the final against Portland where New York City FC won its first title. 

Moreover he made 4 goals and as many assists in 6 games in the CONCACAF Champions League, in which the NYC team was stopped in the semi-finals by Seattle.

​​Castellanos is a player who stands out for his great personality and confidence despite his young age, class of 1998, which is also highlighted by a large number of yellow cards (9 last year and 7 already this year).

In 2021 he was the player who on average made the most shots on goal in the entire league: 57 total shots, 1.72 shots per game with an accuracy of 43% and a lot of playing in the penalty area with 4.2 touches.

Great technical skills and running ability are some of the characteristics that make him a complete striker: in his career he has played both left and right-wing as well as a pure forward. Also great sacrifice for the team demonstrated by his 14.3 duels attempted of which he won 5.7 and around 15 lost balls per game, an increase on the 14 of the previous year.

This year he registered 8 goals and 1 assist with an average WSF Performance Index of 6.1 in 87 minutes played per game, maintaining high stats in shooting on goal with 1.6 shots on goal on 4.1 attempted.

Castellanos WSF Performance Index – MLS 2022

Still at the heart of the game registering 16 completed passes and 2 key passes per match, he increased not only the number of touches from 42.1 to 43.9, but also the effectiveness of dribbling, one of his best qualities, from 0.9 attempts with 46% success to 1.1 with 50%.

The level, thanks also to the promotion and visibility provided by MLS, has risen over the years and many European players, more or less at the end of their careers, have crossed the ocean to compete in this championship.

Are the young players ready to make the reverse process and compete in Europe?

by Giorgio Patania, Elisa Zanchetta

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let us know how we can help