Post-Match Chalkboard: Hypothetically Speaking

Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

Chris Rolfe is easily one of the most important players when it comes to the Chicago Fire's offense. How involved has Rolfe been in the final 5 matches? Let's Find out!

I apologize for the recent hiatus I've been on. I'm back with the final PMC of the regular season, and hopefully I'll have a few more of these to do through November.

Typically I review the chalkboards and try to garner some sort of meaning out of them. This time around I am going to try a different approach where I am going to state a thesis and then see if I can find evidence to support the thesis and write as I move along with the process.

While watching the season finale against D.C. United, it seemed to me that Chris Rolfe was not getting very involved in the attack. Rolfe is easily one of the most important players when it comes to the Chicago Fire's offense. My thesis is simple: When Chris Rolfe does not get involved in the attack, the Chicago Fire do not win.

From August 4th until September 22nd, the Fire won 7 out of their 8 matches. From September 23rd to the end of the season, the Fire won 1 out of 5 matches. During this time, Chris was a regular starter playing as the Fire's attacking central midfielder. I'm going to compile Chris's offensive stats from August 4th to the end of the season and compare how involved he was in the wins versus the loses and one draw from this past Saturday.

Below is the offensive stats that Rolfe compiled during each Chicago Fire win over the latter half of the season. Click the image to enlarge.

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Below is what Rolfe did during the 4 loses and the lone draw.

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NOTE: Rolfe did not have a total pass completion percentage of 377% in the loses. His percentage of completed passes was 73.8%. I'm just too far into this post to go back and fix that.

When I began compiling these statistics, I was going to use the passes per minute column as my indicator for how involved Rolfe has been in the offense. Rolfe is passing the the ball every 2.6 minutes in the losses compared to every 2.2 minutes in the wins. That's not a terribly significant difference. Matter of fact, Rolfe attempted more passes during the loss to the Philadelphia Union than any of the other 12 matches. Additionally, his completion percentage during the losses is only slightly lower than the nearly 75.8% that he has in the wins. The statistics that I was going to use to prove that Chris Rolfe does not get as involved in the offense does not support my claim.

What I do think is significant to point out are the shooting statistics along with key passes. Rolfe is shooting twice as much in the wins than he is in the losses. He is also putting shots on target three times as often during the wins, yet he is having his shots blocked at the same rate. He is also creating key passes (passes that lead to scoring opportunities) twice as often in the wins as well.

The conclusion that I've come to while looking at these stats is that Rolfe has been able to get involved in the offense, but teams are making sure that he can not do anything with the ball when he gets it. The only exception to this is last Saturday against D.C. as they completely took Rolfe out of the game all together.

It will be interesting to see what happens tonight against the Houston Dynamo. In the win against the Dynamo on September 2nd, Rolfe only took one shot and his numbers were a little down compared to the other wins with the exception of the two key passes. I'm hoping that Rolfe will be able to lose some Dynamo defenders tonight and get a few quality shots off. The Fire need it.

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