Skip to content
GO TO bet365 Sports
  1. Soccer
  2. MLS

MLS Stats Zone: Benteke and Sullivan shine as Inter Miami's goalkeeper steals the show

The 2024 MLS season began last week, and with most teams having a game under their belts, it's time to look at the most eye-popping numbers from the first set of matches.

Between a big name's hat trick, young stars already looking better than last year, and some surprising performances, there were plenty of storylines to stem from the first week of the season.

Christian Benteke starts with a bang

DC United striker and designated player Christian Benteke has found consistency hard to come by over the course of his career, but he started the 2024 season in ideal fashion.

Benteke scored all three of DC's goals in the team's season-opening 3-1 win over the New England Revolution. He scored three while creating 2.1 expected goals, meaning he finished substantially better than average in his first game of the season.

A bonus for DC: Benteke created 0.9 expected assists against New England, the second-most on the team and proving the striker's ability to get the ball to his teammates in dangerous areas. After one matchweek, he leads MLS in goals and expected goals, and he's third in expected assists and tied for third in shots on target.

Joining DC United halfway through the 2022 season, Benteke scored just one goal in 558 minutes that season before netting 14 in 31 matches in 2023. Starting the 2024 campaign with a hat trick will give him - and new coach Troy Lesesne - confidence early in the season.

Quinn Sullivan thrives in unfamiliar Union role

Philadelphia Union midfielder Quinn Sullivan just began his fourth full MLS season, and he does not turn 20 until the end of March. Despite the weekend's game being his 60th in his MLS career, it was just his 13th start.

Sullivan stepped into the right side of Union manager Jim Curtin's long-preferred 4-4-2 diamond formation, a position that had been held by club captain Alejandro Bedoya for the last seven-and-a-half seasons. Sullivan didn't score, but he affected the game in a number of ways.

The midfielder's most notable contribution was assisting Mikael Uhre's goal in the 55th minute that tied the score at 1-1. Sullivan ran down the right flank and drifted to the right side of the box, stayed onside, latched onto a through ball from Daniel Gazdag and passed across goal to Uhre for a tap-in.

Sullivan led his team in progressive passes with 10 - out of 34 total completed passes - and progressive carries with eight. He had three shot-creating actions, 0.3 expected goals, 0.5 expected assists, and five shots. Among all MLS players, Sullivan is joint-seventh in expected assists, tied for second in progressive carries, and tied for second in carries into the penalty area after the first week of matches.

Callender's heroics help Miami get a point

After beginning the season with a midweek win over Real Salt Lake, Inter Miami had its first away test of 2024 with a cross-country trip to face the Los Angeles Galaxy.

All eyes were on Lionel Messi in the City of Angels, but neither he nor any of his friends from FC Barcelona stole the show. This time, it was goalkeeper Drake Callender who saved seven of the Galaxy's eight shots on target - including a penalty - to save a point for Miami.

Of course, some Messi magic was required as the Argentine World Cup-winner scored in the second minute of second-half stoppage to clinch the draw. But Callender faced nine shots on target that amounted to 3.5 expected goals, and he only let in one, which was worth 0.93 post-shot xG. Post-shot expected goals are when the location of a shot on target is taken into account, which then gets added to the traditional xG metric of measuring the likelihood of a goal based on where the shot was taken on the pitch.

Through two games - against Real Salt Lake and the Galaxy - Callender has saved 2.57 more goals than the average goalkeeper would. For reference, only four teams beat that number over the course of the entire 2023 MLS season. Whether this number grows or shrinks over the 2024 campaign will tell fans whether Callender is really this good, or if he has simply gotten lucky early this season.

Bonus stats

  • LA Galaxy attacking midfielder Riqui Puig had 14 shot-creating actions, six key passes, and three shots on target against Inter Miami
  • Philadelphia Union left-back Kai Wagner played 13 crosses in the team's season-opening match against the Chicago Fire
  • Colorado Rapids midfielder Conor Ronan had 15 progressive passes and 16 passes into the final third in his team's losing effort against the Portland Timbers
  • No player had a multi-assist game in the first round of MLS matches, and only one penalty kick was scored - by Pedro De la Vega of the Timbers
  • New England Revolution defender Dave Romney and Nashville SC defender Jack Maher each made at least 10 clearances in their opening match, with Romney making 11 and Maher making 10
  • Sporting Kansas City left-back Tim Leibold made five tackles in his team's season-opening 1-1 draw with Houston Dynamo

Related Articles

bet365 uses cookies

We use cookies to deliver a better and more personalized service. For more information, see our Cookie Policy

New to bet365? Bet $1 & Get $365 in Bonus Bets Join Now

Deposit required. Bonus Bet winnings are added to Bonus Bets balance. Bonus Bet wager excluded from returns. T&Cs, time limits and exclusions apply.