"Beyond The Box Score" is a weekly series presented by Compass Minerals that takes a statistical dive into every Sporting match, bringing to light the intriguing numbers and factoids that don't appear in the typical box score. To visit the series archive, click here.
In an otherwise forgetful 3-1 road loss to rivals Real Salt Lake on Saturday afternoon, forward Alan Pulido offered a prompt reminder of his undeniable quality.
The Sporting Kansas City forward orchestrated his team's first-half goal from start to finish, bursting into the attacking half and spreading the ball wide right to Khiry Shelton before receiving the return pass a few seconds later to cap off a devastating counter-attack with a cool finish into the back of the net.
Sporting's club-record signing had been limited to second-half substitute appearances in the first two matches of the 2021 MLS campaign due to an injury sustained in preseason. Making his first start on Saturday, Pulido picked up where he left off last year as one of the most prolific players in the league.
In fact, since the start of 2020, no MLS player who has logged at least 700 minutes has more goals or primary assists per 90 minutes played in the regular season than—you guessed it—Sporting's own Alan Pulido.
The big-name list below includes three marquee players who were named MLS MVP finalists in 2020: Jordan Morris, Diego Rossi and Alejandro Pozuelo. It includes rising stars (Chris Mueller and Cade Cowell) and established veterans (Raul Ruidiaz and Bradley Wright-Phillips) alike.
But none of them have generated goals and primary assists at the clip that Pulido has since his arrival to Kansas City at the beginning of 2020. Pulido tops the list with 0.973 goals and primary assists per 90 minutes, edging out Mueller and Ruidiaz by a slim margin.
MOST GOALS + PRIMARY ASSISTS PER 90 MINUTES SINCE 2020
(MLS regular season through May 1, 2021; minimum 700 minutes)
|8||Saphir Taider *||MTL||4||5||9||955||0.848|
* No longer in MLS
"Alan was actually excellent in the game," said disappointed Manager Peter Vermes after Saturday's setback. "If I was him, I’d be incredibly frustrated because him and a few other guys wanted the ball. They wanted to play and they were trying."
By losing to Real Salt Lake, Sporting suffered their first-ever loss in which Pulido, captain Johnny Russell and fellow forward Khiry Shelton started together in attack. Sporting had entered the weekend with a perfect 7-0-0 regular season record when the trio started up top.
WHEN PULIDO, RUSSELL AND SHELTON START TOGETHER
(MLS REGULAR SEASON)
|02/29/2020||at Vancouver Whitecaps FC||W 3-1|
|03/07/2020||HOUSTON DYNAMO||W 4-0|
|07/17/2020||vs. Colorado Rapids (MLS is Back)||W 3-2|
|07/22/2020||vs. Real Salt Lake (MLS is Back)||W 2-0|
|08/21/2020||at Minnesota United FC||W 2-1|
|10/03/2020||at Houston Dynamo||W 2-1|
|10/28/2020||at FC Cincinnati||W 1-0|
|05/01/2021||at Real Salt Lake||L 1-3|
Sporting (1-1-1, 4 points) will look to bounce back next Sunday, May 9, when in-form expansion side Austin FC (2-1-0, 6 points) visits Children's Mercy Park for a marquee Western Conference clash at Children's Mercy Park. A limited number of tickets for the 6:30 p.m. CT showdown are available at SeatGeek.com as Sporting plays host to another national television audience on FS1, FOX Deportes and the FOX Sports app.