The case for Pipa and Pipo as All-Stars

Metrics show Higuain, Gonzalez performing alongside League's elite

Pipa and Pipo

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USA Today Sports Images

After addressing the summer transfer window, Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach offered an interesting take on the MLS All-Star game, and specifically, the Crew's involvement. While Michael Parkhurst was the club's first representative since 2010, the Crew boss argued that Federico Higuain and Giancarlo Gonzalez could have just as easily been named to the contest.

"[Gonzalez] was one of the top centerbacks in the World Cup and that's interesting to me. Out of convenience, you saw [Liam Ridgewell] was added to the All-Star team, but to me it's almost comical in a way that we have one of the best performing centerbacks in the World Cup, and he wasn't on the All-Star team," said Berhalter. "Something's not right there. In Federico, you have one of the best players in the League, and he's not on the All-Star team.

"We're happy with Michael, obviously, but I think these are two guys that certainly got overlooked considering their performance this year and Giancarlo's in the World Cup, where he was an exceptional performer."

So how much of a case did both Higuain and Gonzalez have? Let's start with the Argentine attacking midfielder. Here's an Opta comparison of his numbers compared to similar players who appeared on Wednesday against FC Bayern Munich:

Player Goals Assists Chances Created/Match Passes in Final Third/Match Passes into Final Third/Match
Clint Dempsey 9 2 1.75 18.42 5.92
Federico Higuain

8

5 3.11 27.37 13.16
Diego Valeri 6 6 2.55 19.95 8.41
Thierry Henry 5 8 2.53 19.63 6.68
Landon Donovan 4 5 2.88 16.71 5.06
Graham Zusi 3 3 3.21 16.79 5.64
Michael Bradley 1 0 2.33 16.83 10.50

As you can see, Higuain's numbers are right up there with these six comparable MLS All-Stars. Higuain's eight goals rank second among the group and his five assists are tied for third. The final three columns are all listed on a per-match basis due to FIFA World Cup involvement skewing some totals, but you can also see that Higuain's chances created/match rank second among this group, and nobody makes more passes either into the final third or within the final third than the Crew's number 10.

What about Pipo? While it's a bit more difficult to utilize numbers to assess a defender, his metrics at the FIFA World Cup were exceptional and his MLS statistics paint just as favorable of a picture:

Player Tackles Won/Match Blocks/Match Clearances/Match Interceptions/Match
Giancarlo Gonzalez 1.80 0.93 8.33 2.40
Liam Ridgewell 1.33 0.67 7.00 3.00
Aurelien Collin 1.33 0.56 6.28 1.89
Michael Parkhurst 1.14 0.48 4.76 2.43
Matt Besler 1.00 0.23 6.38 2.31
Bobby Boswell 0.95 0.52 6.86 2.24

Again listed on a per-match basis, Pipo leads all fellow MLS central defenders in three out of the four metrics above: tackles won, blocks and clearances.

It looks like Berhalter was certainly onto something. According to the numbers, both Higuain and Gonzalez have performed comparably to their peers. While they might not have been All-Stars in 2014, they are certainly having All-Star caliber seasons for the Black & Gold.