As part of our series of deeper dives into the statistics of the game, today we explore who are the most active center backs in MLS since the beginning of the 2019 season.
The chart below ranks those central defenders based on their average clearances+interceptions+tackles+blocks per 90 minutes (With a minimum of 2,000 minutes played since the start of the 2019 season.)
The San Jose Earthquakes‘ Guram Kashia ranks tops on the list, and his teammate Florian Jungwirth is third. And if you know anything about the man-marking system manager Matias Almeyda plays, that’s hardly a surprise.
Instead of a zonal back three/four/five, in which center backs focus mostly on keeping shape and protecting the most vulnerable part of the field, a man-marking approach means more tracking players into different portions of the field where the ball is more likely to be. Jungwirth is usually the lone San Jose player without a mark in order to provide defensive cover, which is likely the reason Kashia’s numbers are slightly higher.
Additionally, the pace at which Almeyda’s team plays can send the whole match flow into fast forward, leading to more total duel opportunities across the pitch.
The only player to come close to the San Jose pair’s numbers is Chicago Fire FC‘s Francisco Calvo. That might partly be because Calvo also spends not insignificant time playing as an outside back, where there’s more regular on-ball action.