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  • Does Playing The Kids Actually Help Teams Win in MLS? | Sat, 22 Sep 2018 13:00:00 +0000

    A major criticism of MLS teams is that they don’t play their you playersenough. More specifically, MLS teams struggle with playing youthnational-team players, and many young players have noticed this trend andsigned in Europe. These players in most cases have their spots blocked byreplacement-level veterans. In every league coaches typically rely onveterans because that is the safer, less risky option. Veteran players aregenerally more proven and so coaches know what type of performance theywill get if they play them. This can be frustrating to fans, like me as anNYCFC fan, who, for example, see players like Rodney Wallace get playingtime over Jonathan Lewis (who has now been sent out on loan). To fans,Lewis is clearly the better option, even including his struggles trackingback, but clearly NYCFC coach Domenec Torrent disagrees. I want to examineif this theory that the coaches believe is true. How does the amount ofplaying time given to young players correlate with a team’s number ofpoints?

  • Expected Narratives: The Let's Judge Everybody Edition | Fri, 21 Sep 2018 18:26:37 +0000

    And so the Stahre era has ended. San Jose sit forlornly near the bottom ofthe table, a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Sporting Kansas City not being somuch the straw that broke the camel’s back as someone finally coming to therealization that people weren’t going to stop dropping straws on this poorbroken camel unless somebody moved it.

  • Lowered Expectations: Week 29 | Fri, 21 Sep 2018 16:32:06 +0000

    Welcome to Lowered Expectations, week 29 edition! Each week, we go aboutposting chalkboards and GIFs of the weekend’s best open-play shot attemptswhich did not quite live up to expectations (and rarely do we update thisparagraph). We look at each one and not only evaluate the results, but alsothe process leading to them.

  • Setting the Table Week 29: Gressel, Guttierez, and getting ready for the playoffs | Thu, 20 Sep 2018 22:00:00 +0000

    Welcome to Setting the Table. Each week we take some time to focus on thebest chance creators in MLS from the last weekend. If you want to see thebest chances that were wasted check out Lowered Expectations. Here we focuson chances that ended with the ball in the back of the net.

  • Ebb-and-flow: Using xPG to capture soccer’s momentum swings | Tue, 18 Sep 2018 13:00:00 +0000

    Recently we introduced Expected Possession Goals (xPG) as an experimentalmetric. In our latest article, we introduced four uses of xPG. Like anygood experiment, things are subject to change as you take input. To helpxPG be a little easier to consume, we’re updating some of the terms to bemore understandable:Chance xPG (formerly called Positive xPG) is the total value of apossession based on weighted values gained from actions such asball-winning actions, passes, dribbles and shots. It is assigned to all theplayers involved in a possession. A player or team with high Chance xPG isgetting the ball into higher opportunity areas for a shot. Chance xPG isexpressed in a positive value.Shot xPG (formerly called Successful xPG) is the total Chance xPG earned bypossessions ending in a shot. Players and teams with a high Shot xPGrelative to Chance xPG are ones which are good at turning chances intoshots. Easy, right?

  • Building A System for Assessing Player Value, Part 2 | Mon, 17 Sep 2018 14:00:00 +0000

    Last week in Part One of this series, we looked at the overall player valuerating and it’s underlying method, top players, its validity, andyear-to-year consistency. In this part, we’ll turn to the categories ofevents make up the overall rating, and examine what can be gleaned fromthese subcategories.Player Value SubcategoriesThe main goal of the player value metric is quantifying a player’s overallcontribution to a team winning. But recognizing players help teams indifferent ways; I decided to track where the “value” was coming from. Thisled me to break down the overall player value into eight subcategories; (1)shot value, (2) turnovers (defense actions), (3) shot blocks (defenseactions), (4) pass value, (5) turnover or loss-of-possession value, (6)movement value, (7) F-up value (conceding PKs and red cards), and (8)goalkeeper value. In addition, I have found it useful to create a sub-indexof actions associated with “playmakers”; which is called the Create Indexand consists of the Pass Value, Turnover/LOP Value and Movement Value addedtogether.

  • Chris Armas’ transformation of the New York Red Bulls | Fri, 14 Sep 2018 12:00:00 +0000

    Coaching the New York Red Bulls must be a dream for most managers in NorthAmerica's soccer circle, but Chris Armas also has had one of the toughesttasks in MLS. A mid-season takeover is never easy, let alone the takeoverof a contender from the legendary Jesse Marsch. The Red Bulls organizationmay have boasted that they focus on the same pressing style starting fromthe academy, but everyone has their own unique ideas they want toimplement. Armas is treading a fine line: he is introducing new elementswhile also keeping what was working for Marsch. The Red Bulls are stillplaying a similar style of soccer, so it appears Armas has been makingquantitative, rather than qualitative, changes. Deciphering those changeswill require some analytics techniques.I first look at how New York has fared under the two managers usingdifferent variants of Expected Possession Goal (xPG). I recommend you readthat full article, but in short it’s a score that measures the risks a teambears vs the rewards it creates. In short, Negative xPG measures the risksa team bears, while Mistake xPG measures the amount of turnovers a teamcommits from those risks.

  • The Tactical Proactivity of each MLS Team | Wed, 12 Sep 2018 15:30:24 +0000

    The MLS playoff drama is peaking with all but a half dozen teams dreamingof postseason glory. All the teams have played their tactical cards by nowand the chess matches from here on out should be very entertaining. It’stherefore high time to look at a model whose goal is to examine the verychess moves that teams are making and look for insights. The ProactivityScore (Pscore), an attempt to numerically represent a teams basic tacticalapproach, has been updated through August 27th and there are someinteresting new trends. Here’s a chart of where teams stand:

  • Playoff Seeding Probabilities Model | Tue, 11 Sep 2018 10:00:00 +0000

    Starting yesterday, you will find playoff seeding probabilities in our webapp. We show the probability that each team finishes in each playoffseeding position in its conference, as well as the Supporters’ Shieldprobabilities for all teams.What is this based on? Well, it’s a two-part process. First, we built amodel capable of predicting the probabilities of future game outcomes basedon team performance to date. Then we set up a simulation to randomlydetermine outcomes for all the remaining games this season, withprobabilities derived from that predictive model. For each of 1,000simulated seasons, we tallied each team’s final points, wins, and goalsscored and allowed, and seeded the teams in each conference. Then wefigured out what proportion of those 1,000 seasons each team finished ineach place.

  • Little Things from Week 29: Orlando's bunker, Higuita's strength, and Colorado missteps | Mon, 10 Sep 2018 18:32:33 +0000

    Sporting KC survived at home against Orlando on Saturday, winning 1-0 on aFelipe Gutierrez strike. They were missing three potential starters (Daniel Salloi and Diego Rubio on int’l duty, Ike Opara on yellow cardsuspension) and consistently lacked ideas in the final third. But Orlandodidn’t generate anything, so SKC walked away with three points.Under James O’Conner, OCSC have bunkered. Their defensive line is deep, themidfield is tight to the backline and they often sit 11 in the defensivehalf. At some point, they’ll have to figure out how to do more than that.They struggled to possess the ball against Sporting, who are a notoriouslydifficult team to possess the ball against. That doesn’t make abominationthis any better from Orlando:

  • Building a System for Assessing Player Value | Mon, 10 Sep 2018 14:30:22 +0000

    For years I’ve been interested in how players contribute to team results. I’ve sought a measure of player contributions to a win that covered allaspects of a game. While many valuable and informative soccer metrics havebeen created, common stats are not entirely on point with this issue.For example, xG stats apply only to scoring attempts, and perhapsgoalkeepers. Adding xAssists and key passes broadens the scope of includedplayers. But the contribution of defensive oriented players would not beexpected to show up on these metrics. And offensive-oriented players wouldstill rely on teammates to threaten the net before their effort can bemeasured.The xGChain metric is useful for identifying players that participate inthe most productive attacks, and includes players that play further awayfrom the goal. But this metric does not include non-offensive actions. Andeach players’ contribution is given equal weight, whether it’s the initialsquare pass to a CB in the defensive half, or delivering a cross into thepenalty area. Experienced analysts consider the dashboard of keyperformance indicators and piece together insights from the elements.  ButI’m looking to consolidate all game elements with a common perspective.

  • Expected Narratives: Seattle Can't/Won't Stop; Presumably Sorry/Not Sorry | Fri, 07 Sep 2018 20:05:01 +0000

    Wayne Rooney has conquered Major League Soccer. It is time to forget all ofthat clearly misguided “young South American talent Atlanta-y whatever” andget back to what really works and that’s bringing in over 30 stars fromEuropean leagues. I chuckle heartily at all of you “it’s not his age, it’show many minutes he’s played - the man can barely run” types who seemsomewhat surprised to watch the captain and leading goalscorer of Englandand Manchester United perform at a high level in Major League Soccer. Imean he’s turned Luciano Acosta into Ronaldo (either one, take your pick -I don’t care), and vanquished the mighty outliers of Atlanta.  Allhyperbole aside, DC United are looking good and that’s something worthsmiling about.

  • Lowered Expectations: Week 27 | Fri, 07 Sep 2018 16:12:08 +0000

    Welcome to Lowered Expectations, week 27 edition! Each week, we go aboutposting chalkboards and GIFs of the weekend’s best open-play shot attemptswhich did not quite live up to expectations (and rarely do we update thisparagraph). We look at each one and not only evaluate the results, but alsothe process leading to them.

  • The case for pulling the goalie in soccer and the math behind Ben Olsen's madness | Thu, 06 Sep 2018 15:52:59 +0000

    The game is ice hockey. One team is behind a goal as the seconds wind down.Conventional thinking for the head coach of the losing team is to directthe goalie off the ice while a substitute enters the game. This gives theteam a six to five player advantage at one end of the ice, but gives theleading team a much higher chance of adding to their lead. Starting in 2013NHL teams became more aggressive with this strategy, and a paper releasedearlier this year proposed that teams should get at least three times asaggressive as they are. The math clearly lines up with the strategy.

  • Expected goal chains are back! | Tue, 04 Sep 2018 13:34:37 +0000

    Expected Goal Chains is not a new thing here on the site, but we have nowstreamlined the process of generating them so that you can enjoy weeklyupdates on our web app! Kevin Shank (@Kev_Shank) introduced the conceptlast year, and because the concept hasn’t changed, I will steal some of hisand Statsbomb’s explanation…

  • Lowered Expectations: Week 26 | Fri, 31 Aug 2018 13:04:51 +0000

    Welcome to Lowered Expectations, week 25 edition! Each week, we go aboutposting chalkboards and GIFs of the weekend’s best open-play shot attemptswhich did not quite live up to expectations (and rarely do we update thisparagraph). We look at each one and not only evaluate the results, but alsothe process leading to them.

  • Expected Narratives: Chara's MVP Chances and Dempsey's Place In History | Thu, 30 Aug 2018 17:47:20 +0000

    Ok fine. Nothing Josef Martinez has or will do is within the jurisdictionof analysis. He is perfect in every way. He has created 28 goals fromnothing. Where once there were scoreless games Josef declared “let there begoals” and he saw the goals and he saw that they were good. I cannot seehow Atlanta fans will take issue with this, so I can’t wait to see the waysin which they will. I’m going to say something nice about Philadelphia now,because I’m jealous that other soccer writing people get their pull quotesimmortalized in the awesome brushtip font on Twitter. So here we go:

  • The Next Level of xG: Expected Possession Goals | Wed, 29 Aug 2018 12:30:00 +0000

    Using xPG variants to assess risk-and-reward of the gameWe introduced Expected Possession Goals (xPG) in two recent articles. xPGgroups and rates the outcome of a possession and began from an idea thatevery action in the possession connects to create a shot. Here, we’reintroducing new xPG variants, extensions to the original xPG definition toassess the risks and rewards inherent in a soccer possession.xPG rates a group of uninterrupted events - or when an interruption lastsfewer than two seconds - based on where the ball travels. It assumes thepurpose of the possession is to move the ball within shooting distance.

  • The Legend of Josef Martinez and what it takes to get to 27 (and more) goals | Mon, 27 Aug 2018 14:24:13 +0000

    Josef Martinez is a man on fire, and, as of writing this, he currently sitson 28 goals in 2018, having just broken the all time scoring record of 27first set by Roy Lassiter in MLS’ inaugural season and matched by ChrisWondolowski in 2012 and Bradley Wright Phillips in 2014.But I want to take this opportunity to look at how goal scorers scoregoals, and compare Wondolowski, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Martinez (wedon’t have data on Lassiter, sadly) on their march to 27. Yes, Martinez hasbroken the record, but this article is going to deal with his stats on theway to 27. For a more complete breakdown of his data and where he lands,I’m sure someone at ASA (let’s say, Harrison) will write you that articleat the end of the year.

  • Expected Narratives: Wazza Saves DC and Josef Martinez is not an Elite Finisher | Fri, 24 Aug 2018 12:00:00 +0000

    Ah, Rivalry Week sponsored by Heineken. Who doesn’t want to ride for thistwice annual celebration of American soccer’s most storied rivalries andalso some ones that MLS just went and made up? Frankly speaking, rivalryweek can kiss m-(Editor’s note: I redacted like a whole paragraph here,you’re welcome. Also, Heineken is gross.) - because Atlanta and Orlando arenot a real rivalry just because some marketing executive bought abillboar-(Editor’s note: yeah some more here as well) ight- and even ifthese ARE the most exciting rivalries in the league why not spread thoseout so you can have a compelling match every couple of weeks? I don’t knowfolks. I hate rivalry week. It makes the fans extra ultzy, it sort ofcheapens the real rivalries, and all these kids will simply not get off ofmy lawn. Is it mainly because I never spell Heineken right? Mainly. Yes.Whatever.

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