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Sapong near the league's elite in creating goals

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Sapong's whirlwind season has ultimately been a resounding success. Here's a look at some statistics that rank him close to the league's elite.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

To say that C.J. Sapong's season has been a re-birth is an understatement. Coming into the season as depth behind Designated Player Fernando Aristeguieta, he instead leads the Union in scoring, even while playing just 1,115 minutes this season. His efficiency is so good he actually appears on a list of pretty big names.

C.J. Sapong ranks 11th in the league in Goals + Assists per 90. Leading the league are obvious names like Giovinco, Keane, David Villa, Dempsey and the like, but Sapong is not too far away. He also ranks well in advanced metrics that examine goals created.

Advanced soccer metrics called expected goals and expected assists measure what an average player would have done given certain characteristics of the shots taken - like location, body part used, whether the pass assisted or unassisted, etc. For example, expected assists measures how many assists a player should have if an average player were shooting the resulting shot. These measures reduce noise and presumably get a more pure view of a players ability to create goals. By this measure (xG+xA/90) Sapong is also 11th in the league. Here is a chart of the top 20 players ranked by expected goals and expected assists per 90.

Rank Player Team Pos Min Shots G xG Key Passes A xA xG + xA Touch% G+A/90 xG+xA/90
1 Sebastian Giovinco TOR F 1,919 126 16 13.24 45 9 6.35 19.59 8% 1.17 0.92
2 Robbie Keane LA F 1,233 47 13 8.33 20 5 3.02 11.36 6% 1.31 0.83
3 Anatole Bertrand Abang NYRB F 339 15 4 2.09 4 1 0.93 3.02 6% 1.33 0.80
4 David Villa NYC F 1,878 96 14 12.21 38 3 4.31 16.52 8% 0.81 0.79
5 Bradley Wright-Phillips NYRB F 1,937 73 11 14.62 26 5 2.41 17.02 6% 0.74 0.79
6 Kei Kamara CLB F 1,975 107 17 14.52 26 4 2.77 17.28 6% 0.96 0.79
7 Clint Dempsey SEA F 1,202 37 7 6.32 21 5 3.38 9.7 9% 0.90 0.73
8 Fabian Espindola DCU F 808 25 3 3.23 26 5 3.14 6.37 9% 0.89 0.71
9 Obafemi Martins SEA F 1,054 26 9 5.65 12 2 1.74 7.39 8% 0.94 0.63
10 Kennedy Igboananike CHI F 1,175 44 4 6.14 14 2 1.89 8.03 6% 0.46 0.62
11 C.J. Sapong PHI F 1,115 31 7 5.02 23 3 2.34 7.36 8% 0.81 0.59
12 Charles Eloundou COL F 333 15 0 1.24 5 2 0.95 2.18 8% 0.54 0.59
13 Sal Zizzo NYRB M 498 13 0 1.96 10 0 1.31 3.26 9% 0.00 0.59
14 Ignacio Piatti MTL M 1,630 46 8 7.45 37 4 3.22 10.66 9% 0.66 0.59
15 Diego Valeri POR M 978 39 2 4.03 28 3 2.37 6.4 12% 0.46 0.59
16 Fanendo Adi POR F 1,543 58 10 8.4 23 2 1.67 10.07 7% 0.70 0.59
17 Carlos Rivas ORL M 818 43 0 4.02 10 2 1.31 5.33 6% 0.22 0.59
18 Fernando Aristeguieta PHI F 1,036 40 4 5.02 12 1 1.58 6.6 8% 0.43 0.57
19 Mauro Diaz FCD M 1,457 36 5 3.85 41 5 5.42 9.27 12% 0.62 0.57
20 Cyle Larin ORL F 1,345 47 11 7.43 6 0 0.96 8.39 4% 0.74 0.56

Table provided by American Soccer Analysis; minimum 300 minutes played

The list is not surprisingly heavily dominated by forwards who like to hog up that space near goal. It's worth noting that Fernando Aristeguieta comes in 18th, actually just barely behind Sapong.  However, Aristeguieta scores much lower on actual goals and assists per 90. Is it just a matter of luck or are the players that different?

It's good to see Sapong playing well and more importantly, playing efficiently in front of the opponents' net. No doubt Union fans are excited to see if he can become the striker the team has been lacking for a few seasons. He's clearly on the right path.

Table legend: Min: Total minutes played, including stoppage time, xG: Expected goals, G: Goals scored, KP: Key passes, which are passes that directly led to a shot, A: Assists (no second-pass assists), xA: The sum of Expected Goals off shots from a player's key passes, xG + xA: The sum of Expected Goals and Expected Assists. Touch%: The percentage of team touches taken by the player while he was on the field.