The sunk-cost fallacy of Patryk Klimala
April 11, 2022

Metro signs a high-priced foreign striker. Expected to lead the attack, he settles in pretty quickly, and seems to preform rather well in multiple areas of the field. One small (giant) problem: when he gets into the box, he just can't score. Yes, this high-priced striker, who the team broke the bank to sign, is completely incapable of putting the ball in the net.

We're talking about Sergio Galvan Rey, of course! Well, not exactly... (duh)

Back in 2004, Metro broke the bank to sign the Argentine attacker (the transfer fee was supposedly around 400K, massive for a league that at the time refused to pay transfer fees). Galvan Rey was one of the all-time scorers in the Colombian league, who was expected to take MLS by storm. Instead, he floundered. Oh, the did the little things well, made good runs and combined well with teammates... (Sounds familiar?) He just couldn't do one thing if his life depended on it: score goals. (Sounds familiar!)

Let's get to it: Patryk Klimala is not the second coming of Sergio Galvan Rey. He is, somehow, worse. SGR adjusted in his second season and somehow started found the back of the net. Klimala shows no sign of improvement.

This is Klimala in a nutshell: he gets the ball, goes into the box, and... nothing. Absolutely nothing. A weak shot that goes straight at the keeper? A wild shot that misses the net completely? A ball hopelessly lost as he tried to go at a defender? Time and again, Klimala has proven to be a sinkhole. Even the one goal he scored this year was off a completely miss-hit shot from point blank range. (And we didn't even mention all the diving, whining, and flopping!)

The much-beloved-by-analysts xG metric tells the story as well. Last year, Klimala was 6th in the league at expected goals, with 13.7. Sadly, he was first bottom in G-xG, goals scored under expected, with -5.7. The number is so high, the second place player, LA's Kevin Cabral, was only at -3.5. This year, Klimala is at 2.6 xG with only one goal to his name. He is third bottom at G-xG... but it's early.

xG is not perfect, and is calculated differently by different models, but it makes one thing obvious: Klimala simply cannot finish. (Please don't remind us about the two overtime chances in last year's playoffs...) Now, previous players who "led" the league in G-xG have recovered, so there is still hope for Klimala... maybe?

There is a myth out there that Klimala does not get service to succeed, but that is absolutely hogwash. Last year, he finished 6th in MLS in shots, and 5th in shots per 90 minutes. However, time and again he fails to put shots on target, ranking 50th per 90 minutes. That is not a sign of someone who doesn't get service... this is a sign of someone who doesn't know what to do with service.

We started this discussion with the Galvan Rey comparison, so let's come back and say that it's not exactly fair. SGR scored only two goals in his first season, and one of them was from the penalty spot. His total of eight in season two was a welcome sight, but that is what Klimala had in his much-maligned 2021. Of course, three of Klimala's were from the spot, and right now he seems unlikely to hit eight in 2022... (He would need penalties to get there, and his last two attempts were awful misses.) Galvan Ray was able to improve his game in his second season; it's early for Klimala, but so far he has not.

The other difference is that when SGR struggled, Metro was able to adjust. Bob Bradley was smart enough to have multiple striking options, who rose to the occasion when Galvan Rey couldn't. Sadly, that is not the case with this year's team. Kevin Thelwell might have broken the bank on Klimala, but the goalscoring options are barren at best. Last year we had Fabio, who didn't exactly light it up either. This year, there is some hope about Ashley Fletcher, but he is on a short-term loan... and then there is "Big, Strong, Fast" Tom Barlow. Thelwell's sale of Brian White looks dumber and dumber by the day.

Back in 2020, Klimala signed for supposed giants Celtic for four million euro. He quickly proved to be incompetent in the inferior Scottish league, scoring just three goals in 19 games. Thankfully for Celtic, Thelwell came to the rescue, taking Klimala off their hands and overpaying by 360,000 euros! That salvation is not possible here. Klimala has been exposed as a fraud, but with Thelwell's cowardly departure, who even knows if anyone in the RBNY front office is capable of orchestrating international deals...

So what is Metro to do? Keep running Klimala into the ground as he fails time and again? Attempt to find some suitor and sell at a loss? (YES!) Find some team that will take him on loan and keep dragging that hoping someone, somewhere, will take him off your hands? And what will that leave the Metro attack with, Barlow and the soon-departing Fletcher? At least Klimala's open salary slot will leave cap space for a potential replacement...

There are no easy answers here, and Thelwell's awful roster building has played a major role in that. One thing is for sure: this sunk-cost fallacy must stop. How many more mistakes can Klimala make before the obvious becomes a reality?

It's time to cut bait. Klimala must go.

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