Friday, September 07, 2007

Strike rates

Some national teams have the luxury of being able to trot out a bona fide goal scorer. Raul has scored 47 times in 102 matches for Spain. Jurgen Klinsmann managed the same total in 108 matches for Germany. Johan Cruijff played only 48 matches for the Netherlands, but managed 33 goals in that period, a rate of 0.69 goals per game. Pele scored 77 times in 92 matches for Brazil, a rate of 0.84.

The player with the most international goals is Ali Daei, of Iran. In an incredible 149 national team apperances, he notched an astonishing 109 goals (0.73/game).

Canada has nobody that even approaches this level of goal scoring brilliance. This might be because the team is rarely on the right side of any lopsided scorelines, or because the country has never produced a truly world class forward.

The players called up for Wednesday's match against Costa Rica haven't exactly set the soccer world alight with their goal scoring prowess. Here is the team, sorted by strike rate:
Player Caps Goals Rate
Ali Gerba 13 5 0.38
Tomasz Radzinski 34 9 0.26
Dwayne De Rosario 44 11 0.25
Olivier Occean 13 2 0.15
Jim Brennan 43 6 0.14
Paul Stalteri 60 7 0.12
Atiba Hutchinson 29 3 0.1
Iain Hume 20 2 0.1
Ante Jazic 20 2 0.1
Julian De Guzman 24 2 0.08
Rob Friend 12 1 0.08
Daniel Imhof 33 0 0
Patrice Bernier 25 0 0
Chris Pozniak 20 0 0
Lars Hirschfeld 19 0 0
Adrian Serioux 9 0 0
Andre Hainault 8 0 0
Issey Nakajima-Farran 7 0 0
Kevin Harmse 5 0 0
Kenny Stamatopoulos 5 0 0

Ali Gerba's done well for himself over a small set of matches, while Radzinski and De Rosario have proven their goal scoring ability over a longer period, although both of these now play as midfielders for Canada.

Let's see how these compare to some of Canada's goal scorers from history. I took the top 20 goal scorers (and ties) and calculated their strike rate. Player name in italics indicates he is currently part of MNT player pool.
Player Goals Caps Rate
Tom Kouzmanis 4 5 0.8
John Catliff 19 43 0.44
Ali Gerba 5 13 0.38
Momcilo Stojanovic 5 14 0.36
Dale Mitchell 19 55 0.35
Igor Vrablic 11 35 0.31
Tomasz Radzinski 9 34 0.26
Les Parsons 7 27 0.26
Dwayne De Rosario 11 44 0.25
Kevin McKenna 9 36 0.25
Alex Bunbury 16 65 0.25
George Pakos 5 22 0.23
Eddy Berdusco 4 18 0.22
Paul Peschisolido 10 53 0.19
Carlo Corazzin 11 59 0.19
Ian Bridge 5 33 0.15
Jim Brennan 6 43 0.14
Paul Stalteri 7 60 0.12
Geoff Aunger 4 44 0.09
Bob Lenarduzzi 4 47 0.09
Colin Miller 5 61 0.08
Jason DeVos 4 49 0.08

What jumps out, aside from the great strike rate over a small sample size from Tom Kouzmanis, is how well Catliff scored. His rate is the same as Jurgen Klinsmann's, although he played less than half as many matches. The numbers we see from Corazzin and Peschisolido, less than 0.2 goals per match, aren't good for forwards although the bunker mentality of the Canada teams they played with could have contributed.

Of currently active players, Kevin McKenna has an impressive rate (0.25) considering he has played most of his Canada matches as a central defender. Dwayne De Rosario has probably scored more of his goals as a midfielder (including 3 in 5 games at the Gold Cup) than as a forward.

Still, it doesn't look like Canada will boast a 100 goal scorer like Ali Daei anytime soon. 40 is almost as unlikely; heck, it could take years before someone challenges Catliff and Mitchell for the all-time lead with 19.

I mentioned in my Canada - Iceland post-mortem that I would inform my readers if a video of the match became available for download. Well, 2 weeks later, the time has come. It has Icelandic commentary, and is ripped from a webcast so I don't know about the quality but it should be just fine.

Use a BitTorrent[?] client like Azureus to download the match.

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