Chrome Defense

Assisted Goals Plaguing Chrome’s Defense

By Nick Zoroya

Aug 5, 2023

There are times when statistics tell a story without painting the whole picture. The Chrome LC defense ranks second in the league at 11.7 scores against average. They used to take pride in their 1-on-1 matchups, now they're sending too much help

The Chrome are known for their defensive prowess. It's their identity. They have the reigning Dave Pietramala Defensive Player of the Year in JT Giles-Harris, USA captain Jesse Bernhardt, along with veteran enforcer Mike Manley. Their short-stick defensive midfielders led by Will Haus and Ryan Terefenko make life miserable for dodging midfielders. With all of this talent, why am I convinced that there’s still room for improvement?

The assist rate. 

Only 48.9% of shots against the Chrome defense were assisted in 2022. In 2023 that number has climbed to 57.1%.

So why is this happening? 

To slide or not to slide

Defenses are finely tuned machines. The first priority for any defender is to stop the ball, but as we know it's not always that simple. The 2022 Chrome predicated their defense on not sliding and winning their individual matchups. This season it seems like guys are getting beat more often forcing a nearby player to slide and help.

My other observation is that there is a lack of trust or discipline from adjacent players. We are seeing guys assuming that their teammate will get beat one on one and sliding when they don’t need to. This unnecessary slide opens up players for wide open looks.

Off-ball Discipline

There have been instances this season where off-ball defenders have had lapses in focus, losing their player only to see them score moments later. If players are focused on the ball carrier rather than their own matchup, we see players break free for easy assisted looks inside.

The two-man game

Opponents are shooting 18.8% against Chrome when initiating with a one-on-one dodge, but when they initiate with the two-man game they score on 50% of their shots.  Defending the two-man game requires technique and communication. We’ve seen the Chrome defense stop the initial pick play only to see an immediate pass inside to an open player.

In each scenario teams have taken full advantage and have found the open player. At the professional level offensive players are experts at following their slide or vacating space into a passing lane. This movement allows them to set their feet and get a high quality look on cage. 

If the Chrome LC wants to improve their defense, they need to trust their individual matchups, regain focus off-ball, and communicate better as a unit.

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