Five stats that make the case against Nashville SC exercising Jhonder Cádiz’s purchase option

Spend a few minutes in the stands of a Nashville SC match and you are bound to hear a litany of opinions on striker Jhonder Cádiz. No player has seemed to divide the fanbase more in the club’s short history.

Cádiz is with Nashville on loan from Benfica. Nashville has only five more matches to evaluate whether they will exercise the reported $3 million purchase option. Cádiz started Nashville’s first three matches of the season. But he was benched to start Nashville’s last two match against New England and Real Salt Lake – not a good sign for a Designated Player.

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A couple of weeks ago, I brought you an article that highlighted Cádiz’s goal scoring rate. Today, I wanted to highlight some statistics that illuminate the frustrations felt by some with Cádiz. 

These five statistics were pulled from American Soccer Analysis. A ton of credit goes to them for the excellent work that they do. 

For each statistic, I have included a rank to show how Cádiz compares to a distilled list of 40 of the top MLS strikers since 2019. 

1) 4.26 shots per 96 minutes (2nd most out of 40)

Cádiz takes a lot of shots. He will never be accused of being shy in front of goal. Only one MLS player since 2019 has taken more shots on a per 96-minute basis: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. When you score with the ease of Zlatan, you can take a bunch of shots without question. Cádiz, along with the rest of humanity, is nowhere near Zlatan’s level. 

For all the shots he takes, Cádiz has only scored four goals since joining Nashville. His first goal in gold came off a deflected shot that wrong footed FC Dallas’ keeper. His first goal this season came on a sitter from a beautiful ball played across the box by Randall Leal. Cádiz’s remaining two goals came on point-blank range headers. None of the goals have been particularly impressive. In fairness to Cádiz, he put himself in the right position to capitalize on those moments.

2) Only 36% of those shots on target (4th worst out of 40)

You can take a lot of shots if you are putting them on frame. But Cádiz manages only to put 36% of those shots on frame. The only strikers with a worse shot-on-target rate from the curated list of MLS strikers since 2019 are Krisztián Németh, Adama Diomande, and Juan Agudelo. 

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The median rate across the 40-striker group was 42.8%. While that does not sound like a significant difference from Cádiz’s shot-on-target rate, the average would yield an extra shot on frame every three games.

You may miss 100% of the shots that you do not take. But you also miss 100% of the shots that go wide of the frame of the goal. You expect better from a DP-level striker.

3) 0.52 Key Passes per 96 minutes (6th worst out of 40)

Cádiz is a strong, supersized version of a poacher. If a Chicharito-type forward is a “fox in the box,” then Cádiz can be called an “ox in the box.”  He spends the majority of any possession sequence sitting on the shoulder of the last defender looking for his chance to fire off a shot. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. But it does come at the expense at contributing to the attack in other ways. 

American Soccer Analysis considers a “Key Pass” as a pass that leads directly to a shot. In his 744 minutes for the Boys in Gold, Cádiz has only made 4 key passes and has yet to log a single assist. 

Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with being a “ox in the box” striker. The only strikers with lower key pass outputs since 2019 are Lucas Cavallini, Dom Dwyer, Chicharito, Ola Kamara, and Daryl Dike. Chicharito is leading the Golden Boot and MVP race and Dike is about to be sold for north of $10 million. It is not a bad list to be associated with. But there are many Nashville SC supporters who would ideally like to see greater involvement from the club’s DP striker. 

4) – 0.10 g+ from passing actions (3rd worst out of 40)

While Key Passes lead to goals, other passes on the field help set up sequences that lead to goals. Cádiz is not only not contributing final balls in shooting range, but he is also not providing a net benefit in his passing actions across the entire field.

American Soccer Analysis’ Goals Added (G+) statistic seeks to measure a player’s total on-ball contribution both offensively and defensively. Read here for a more through breakdown of g+ and American Soccer Analysis’ methodology.

One would expect a guy like Cádiz to add value by being a spark on counterattacking moves. With a striker his size, you would expect some added value in hold up play by receiving long balls, corralling them, and playing off to on-rushing wingers. But we have seen little of that from Cádiz.

It may not be all his fault though. Gary Smith asks a lot defensively of Randall Leal, Alex Muyl, and others. It is not uncommon to see them around the defensive box as secondary fullback. Instead of sparking counterattacks, this forces the striker to act as a pressure release valve – receiving a long ball, holding up, and playing a back pass after the midfield line has a chance to step up. While important in the flow of the game, these types of passes will not help the g+ tally.

5) -0.04 g+ from dribbling actions (9th worst out of 40)

I am going to dig back into my college days to make a cross-sport comparison. Cádiz’s dribbling sequences remind me of former Tennessee Volunteer basketball player Wayne Chism. 

Chism was a big-bodied power forward who was an integral piece to some great Tennessee basketball seasons. Chism had all the physical ability to bang around in the paint, but he always seemed happiest to handle the rock and try to knock down 3-pointers. Chism could manage it on occasion but it was not playing to his strengths. 

Cádiz’s dribbling sequences are akin to the big-bodied Chism handling and shooting the ball beyond the 3-point line. Cádiz can dribble. His goal against PSG is proof of his ability.

Far too often though, Cádiz resorts to a series of step overs that look like they are conducted in slow motion. These are the times that many supporters wish he would pick up his head and find the pass rather than trying to do his best Randall Leal. 

Maybe Cádiz shouldn’t feel too bad on this one. Daniel Rios came out 2nd worst out of the 40 strikers on the list, and we all know what he is capable of while dribbling.

Nashville SC has a tough decision ahead with Cádiz’s purchase option – one that will certainly be debated by the fan base for years to come. I just wanted to highlight some of the reasons why Mike Jacobs might look elsewhere for a permanent solution as the team’s starting striker.

Author: Chris IveyChris is a senior writer covering Nashville SC. His writings focus on the team at large and often navigate the complexity of roster building around the myriad of MLS rules. Outside of Broadway Sports Media, Chris resides in Knoxville and is a licensed attorney. Beyond NSC, he is always willing to discuss Tennessee football and basketball, Coventry City, and USMNT. Follow Chris on Twitter

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