In the player preview series, we are going to take a look at the current players on the Dynamo roster, how they performed last season, and what we might expect from them in 2022. Here is the next in our series and stay tuned for more to come in the weeks leading up to the start of the season.
All data from fbref.com unless noted.
Position - Midfielder
2021 MLS Stats – 17.4 90s, 2 goals, 1 assist
Memo came onto the scene at 23 years of age during the 2019 season with 7 goals and 2 assists. He followed that impressive start with a solid 5 goals and 2 assists during the shortened 2020 season. Houston Dynamo fans were hoping the local homegrown would put it all together during the 2021 season and help lead the Dynamo to the playoffs. After scoring the first goal of the MLS season and securing a win, hopes were high. Unfortunately, Memo only scored one more goal the rest of the season and the Dynamo were bottom of the Western Conference for the second year in a row. Here is an overall summary of Memo’s output compared to other attacking midfielders/wingers for the 2021 season.
The one statistic in which Memo truly excels is getting shots. Memo has consistently averaged over 3 shots per game: 3.05 in 2019 and 2020 and 3.57 in 2021. Memo ranked 1st on the team for most shots per 90 during the 2021 season. This is impressive considering he was playing as a hybrid winger/midfielder.
While his quantity of shots increased in 2021, the quality of these shots drastically decreased. I created the shot chart below to demonstrate the drop in average quality based on xG (circles = goals and Xs = misses).
We can see that his average quality per shot has dropped more than half, from .13 in 2019 to .06 in 2021. A higher proportion of Memo’s shots during the 2021 season were outside the box and a lower proportion were inside the 6-yard box. Typically, the closer you are, the easier it is to score. Memo was at his best when he was making those Frank Lampard style late runs into the box. This allowed him to receive the ball unexpectedly and get a quality shot off. This past year Memo was not able to take as many shots in the high leverage areas, perhaps due to a tactic change from the manager or due to him never being in rhythm from a lack of consistent minutes.
If the Dynamo are going to move up in the standings, they will need to increase their offensive output – the Dynamo ranked 25th in xG per game and 26th in xG per shot. The Dynamo did bring in a striker, Sebastian Ferreira, who they hope can help improve their goal scoring record, but I don’t think he will be able to do it on his own. My hope is that Memo can be the guy to help supplement the Dynamo’s attack. Based on preseason, it seems like Memo will be moved back into the midfield as an 8 behind Darwin Quintero. I think playing in the middle vs outside plays more to Memo’s strengths of making off ball runs to receive the ball in space or in dangerous positions to shoot. Memo struggles with progressing the ball with his feet – 26th percentile for progressive passes. This could be a reason for him to play as a winger. However, if the Dynamo play two of the players Quintero, Matias Vera, or Coco Carrasquilla, there will be plenty of passing acumen in the midfield to move the ball up the field where Memo can shine, in and around the box.
Memo is a fan favorite who may have been a little forgotten after some tough years under Tab Ramos. My optimistic and bold prediction for 2022 is that Memo reaches his full potential under Paulo Nagamura and scores double digit goals.