A few notes:
*All advanced stats are from inStat. Not all matches this season were scored by inStat, explaining why some games are missing for some players.
*IMPACT ratings are calculated by myself via a proprietary formula using inStat data. The IMPACT rating is on a 0-5 scale that is not adjusted for strength of schedule. Thus, a 1.50 in a top conference like the Pac-12/ACC means much more than a 1.50 in a mid-major conference. Additionally, IMPACT ratings for attacking players generally tend to be higher. A 0.90 rating for a forward may be unimpressive for a early pick, whereas a 0.90 for a defender competing in a top league may be much more impressive.
1 – POR – Sophia Smith – F (LF, CF, RF) – Stanford
Stats of Note [20 match sample]:
IMPACT rating – 2.40
16 goals on approximately 14 xG
38% conversion rate
2.1 chances created per 90’
73% pass completion (19 passes per 90’)
1.3 key passes completed per 90’ (49% completion)
29% cross completion
43% aerial duels won
7 dribbles per 90’ (54% success)
3.2/12 – ball recovery-turnover ratio per 90’
Smith was always going to be the #1 pick in this draft if she indeed declared (barring a surprise early entry from teammate Catarina Macario), and she seems to have landed in a great spot right away. The Thorns have suffered as of late without a real quality #9, and Smith has the potential to be that player in time. If that’s her destiny, it may take a little bit longer to gel into that role, as she was tasked with playing out wide for Stanford. If Mark Parsons sticks with three at the back for Portland this year, Smith almost has to play centrally, though Smith could play there or wide left (when Tobin Heath is away) or wide right if the Thorns go to four at the back.
I was a lower vote than most on Smith coming into this season, as I wanted to see her prove it consistently over a full season after being cut down with injury midway through her rookie year. Concerns seemed to grow a bit as she missed early games this year, but Smith grew into the year and peaked at a great time, with her marvelous display in the College Cup semi-final against UCLA a crowning achievement for her short collegiate tenure.
In terms of parsing the numbers, Smith looks good in most areas. Her conversion rate, while not the best in the NCAA, is pretty darn good, especially given the number of chances coming her way. Smith’s passing numbers also point her out as likely one of this class’ best in distribution amongst forwards along with Tziarra King. Add in the dribbling numbers, and Smith could be a player with true star potential. She’s not great in the air, though her 43% success is higher than some forwards in this class, while the same could be said about her recovery-turnover ratio.
Overall, an excellent (if easy) pick for Portland, and they’ll likely be confident she was worth the price paid in acquiring the #1 pick. Continue reading