The Aston Villa Thrilla (1-nil) v Liverpool

Most of the Headlines went to Manchester United crushing a helpless Queens Park Rangers this past week and rightly so, I suppose, given how poorly Man U has played this last year or so.

Anything good happening to United usually spells trouble for others in the English Premier League.

For me though, I’m taking my analysis to the Aston Villa, 1-nil win, against Liverpool this week.

To begin, my traditional link on what Possession with Purpose is all about and then a link on my latest English Premier League (through Week 4 analysis) here:

With that let’s take a look at Aston Villa, two different ways – compared to the other teams in the EPL and dig a bit deeper, statistically (team performance wise), into their great start.

For starters; here’s my standard Composite PWP Strategic Index filtering out all games where a team has passed the ball less than 450 times (the EPL League average):

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 4 Less than 450 Passes


While not blazing saddles, by any stretch, the positive from this is that Aston Villa are on the giving end as opposed to receiving end.

In the four games played, Aston Villa have not once exceeded the 450 pass barrier – but in every game the opponent has.

So there is consistency of purpose with respect to the general attacking strategy given the expected higher volume of passes by the opponent; at least that’s what I would offer given Paul Lambert is a pretty switched on Coach.

In the four games Villa have played their highest percentage of possession was against Hull City – do many of us consider Hull City a passing team?

They had 55.78% of the possession when playing Villa.  Oddly enough that is the lowest amount of possession, by any opponent against Villa, this year – and Hull City have scored the only goal against Aston Villa this year!  Hmmm…

Anyhow, the lowest level of passing accuracy, by Villa, was against Liverpool (63.09%); the 1-nil thrilla; otherwise, all the other games have seen Villa meet or exceed 70% in passing accuracy.

Bottom line here, in attack, Aston Villa show frugal play and measured penetration; 7th best in the EPL (26.13%).

And they have been able to create and take shots that have at least a 21% chance of being on target – while also averaging 50% goals scored success based upon that volume of shots.

Very frugal and very productive… all round a solid team performance in attacking so far.

Now let’s take a look at this same Index for all teams who have passed the ball greater than 450 times this year:

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 4 Greater than 450 Passes

So with a frugal, but effective and efficient attack, how have they performed in defending against teams who pass as many as 200 times more, in a game, than Villa do?

Opponents so far have been Stoke City, Newcastle United, Hull City, and Liverpool.

As noted, those opponents are averaging over 450 passes per game – the actual average Villa have faced is 581 per game with a high of 743 passes, faced, in the game against Liverpool.

With respect to opponent penetration – Liverpool again was best in penetrating Villa’s Defending Final Third – nearly 36% of the total possession Liverpool had resulted in penetration of the Villa Final Third – that’s 12% greater than the overall average for every team in the EPL this year… my oh my…  Liverpool really was on the offensive this game!

Perhaps what really drives home the aggressive nature/execution of Liverpool this game was their 71% completion rate of passes within the Villa Final Third.  So not only were Liverpool frequent in their penetration – they were accurate as well.

Yet, when the scope narrowed, and the sphincter got tighter, Liverpool put just 1 of 18 shots on goal (5.56%) terrible; simply terrible.

So while Villa ceded possession and penetration (high passing accuracy penetration) they didn’t cede time and space that resulted in Liverpool getting more than one shot on goal…  I’d offer that’s a pretty effective zone defense.

In Closing:

Through either filter Aston Villa have done well.  It’s early days though, and this analysis probably has more value later this year when more data points are available to confirm/refute early prognostications.

For now I’d offer Paul Lambert is running a Counter-attacking / Direct attacking scheme – and to date, it’s been pretty effective  so far.

How long that success lasts is hard to tell; they play Arsenal next and it’s likely they will face as many as 800 passes in that game.

And so you know – Arsenal have not started out as slowly as Liverpool.

In looking ahead to that game…

Arsenal average 9.92% Shots Taken per penetrating possession while Liverpool average 14.72%.

And both average nearly the same amount of Shots on Goal percentage (33.01% to 33.61%) yet Arsenal convert that same percentage of Shots on Goal to Goals Scored 37.50% of the time while Liverpool only manages to convert those Shots on Goal to Goals Scored 25.63% of the time.

That’s a 12% difference in success rate for Goals Scored – as noted in all my research from Major League Soccer, patience, in creating time and space adds just as much, if not more value than the location on where the shot is taken…

Best, Chris

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English Premier League – Week 4 – Relegation battle begins…

I’ve no doubt many of the headlines on the English Premier League this week dig into Manchester United’s convincing win over Crystal Palace…   That’s probably appropriate for most but I, often times, like to write about the un-obvious.

So even though Angel Di Maria looked great – I’d offer he was a stud playing amongst English school boys…  perhaps something like Lionel Messi (Barcelona) playing Levante in La Liga???

Anyhow, well done to Man United – they finally won a game!

The exciting match, for me however, was the Aston Villa (1 – nil) thrilla at the Kop…

Who’da thought the Villans would be sitting where they are after four games?  Tom Hanks no doubt… ;)

Well, perhaps in hindsight (after week 10 or so) that run of 10 points, in these four games. might not be quite as much as it seems today.

Bollocks you say – we will see :)  A very tough match against Arsenal comes next on Sept 20th, 7 AM PST…

Anyhow, like the latest on the Bundesliga and La Liga, I’ll be taking a look at the early races taking shape on relegation; in particular the four bottom dwellers, and how they compare in the Possession with Purpose Family of Indices.

My analysis on the CPWP Strategic Index, filtered by passes, above and below the league average of 450, will follow in my Sports Rants Europe blog a bit later this week.

For now the Composite (CPWP) Strategic Index through Week four:

CPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 4
Although taking a hit from Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge, Swansea City still shows pedigree in the CPWP Strategic Index.  Other teams doing well include Man City, Chelsea, and with a rather large move up the Index, Manchester United.

Hovering midtable in the Index, but gathering points, as noted, is Aston Villa – another sleeper (but maybe not) is Southampton.

How soon the have’s and have not’s split up, in this Index, is unclear but I’d expect Week 10 or so will begin to show a bit more clarity in who’s consistently performing well and who isn’t.

In terms of the late starters in the League Table there are four teams; Crystal Palace, Burnley, West Brom, and Newcastle; all sitting on two points.

For the remainder of this article I’ll concentrate some thoughts and observations about them and save some individual analysis on Aston Villa, and Southampton, for my new blog on Sports Rants Europe.

Like the Bundesliga and La Liga CPWP Indices, the R2 for this Index, after Week 4, shows well – it’s .73…

Attacking (APWP) Strategic Index:

APWP Strategic Index EPL Week 4

Given the early season outburst from Chelsea is it any wonder they sit atop this Index – with an average Goals Scored of 3.75 would you really expect my Index not to reflect that amount of fire power?

So how about those teams who’ve started with just two points each in the first four games?

  1. Crystal Palace – 7th worst in APWP – the telling statistics on this side of the pitch are two things; possession percentage average is 36.69% (3rd worst) and their goals scored per shots on goal is 29.46% (9th worst).  What is interesting here is that Southampton sit below Crystal Palace in that statistic (29.17%) but their overall possession percentage is 52.91%.  That significant difference in the amount of possession spells the biggest reason why Crystal Palace sits where they sit.  In other words the statistics are indicating that if Crystal Palace can retain more possession of the ball they should, by all counts, increase their goal scoring output.
  2. Burnley – 2nd worst in APWP – the telling statistics here are also two things: shots taken, per penetrating possession, is 7th lowest and their goals scored, per shots on goal, is 3rd worst (12.50%).  The striking contrast here is that the other teams who show patience in taking shots, per penetration, (lower averages than Burnley) are Man City (9.18%), Arsenal (9.92%), Man United (10.09%), Spurs (11.1%), Everton (11.13%), and Southampton (12.9%).  What this clearly indicates is that the, higher scoring, possession based teams are behaving exactly like some of the higher scoring teams in MLS – they are showing patience in shot selection compared to penetration.  With Burnley clearly not a possession based team (43.61%)are they trying to show (patience – perhaps???) where in fact they might produce better results if they simply increase their shot volume per penetration?  In other words, with just a glimmer of time and space, as opposed to more acres of time and space, they need to shoot more often???
  3. West Brom – 3rd worst in APWP – pretty simple to offer up analysis here – they are 4th worst in putting shots on goal, per shots taken, and they are 2nd worst in scoring goals, based upon their volume of shots on goal… Perhaps they need a better striker or two???
  4. Newcastle – 6th worst in APWP – two things here as well – perhaps??? The most striking observation here, for me, is that Newcastle average 55.7% possession (6th best in the EPL) but when converting that overall possession, to penetration into the opponents defending final third, they are third worst at 21.13%.  And that final clarity in gaining penetration also finds itself influencing goals scored – they are 4th worst in goals scored.  Perhaps they need a couple of better midfielders???

Moving on to Defending (DPWP) Strategic Index:

DPWP Strategic Index EPL Week 4

Manchester United have moved up top here and clearly, Aston Villa, with that HUGE clean sheet at the Kop, have kept themselves in good stead as well.

In looking at the four bottom dwellers – here’s there positional standing and some key observations too:

  1. Crystal Palace – 2nd bottom of the DPWP – two things here.  Their average opponent possession is 63.31% (3rd worst) and they are also 3rd worst (28.78%) in conceding penetration.  Now that might not be a bad thing when working towards a successful counter-attacking approach but they are 9th worst in seeing their opponents put shots taken on goal and 8th worst (36.46%) in seeing those shots on goal get converted to goals scored.  The contrast here is Aston Villa; they actually cede more possession (64.39%) than Crystal Palace, but they have the 2nd best defense in limiting opponent shots taken, being on goal, and the best defense in preventing those shots on goal from being goals scored.  Perhaps Crystal Palace need better midfielders and defenders, as well as a better Goal Keeper?  In other words a whole new defense or a completely different defensive scheme???
  2. Burnley – 7th best in DPWP – this Index rating might actually be an early indicator that the Burnley record isn’t quite reflecting how well this team is playing.  Granted goal scoring is critical – but for most – a strong defense usually sees a team through when fighting relegation.  With them being 7th best the only thing that stands out to me is the amount of possession they’ve conceded – opponents average 56.39%.  In seeing that, they’ve already played Chelsea, Man United, and Swansea City, a hard slog to be sure.  Overall, I’d offer, if they keep their confidence, they should continue to move forward at a better pace than some other bottom dwellers like Cyrstal Palace.
  3. West Brom – 3rd worst in DPWP – interesting here is that they are 2nd best in limiting opponent penetration into the final third (just 19.04%) but even with that minimal penetration they are 8th worst in conceding shots taken, that are shots on goal, and 4th worst (48.21%) in seeing those opponent shots on goal hit the back of the net.  Seems like their defensive approach within the 18 yard box leaves quite a lot to be desired…  A team that is successful in clogging the choke point into the final third probably should do better as the amount of defending space naturally gets smaller inside the 18 yard box.  Is it too early to say they might need two better centerbacks and a better goal keeper?
  4. Newcastle – 10th in DPWP – midtable of the Index and some are no doubt scratching their heads on why Newcastle finds itself at bottom of league table.  For starters their opponents average just 44.30% possession, and their opponents really don’t penetrate that much compared to some other teams (7th lowest – 21.9%).  It appears what is happening is that, even with small amounts of possession and penetration, the opponents are taking a higher volume of shots per penetration; resulting in the 2nd worst percentage of shots on goal, per shots taken, (43.64%) and the 9th worst, goals scored, per shots on goal.  Put another way the positional defending, inside and around the 18 yard box (appears??) weak.  Perhaps they give their opponents too much time and too much space as they transition in positional defending after the opponent penetrates???

In closing:

All told, it’s clearly early days but I think patterns are already beginning to develop.

To be honest I’m quite jazzed to be offering up PWP analysis on the EPL – I do wish Blackburn were still in it – and perhaps even Leeds United!  More teams from the north!

Anyhow – two sides of the table to review and next week I’ll take a closer look at the top end…

Best, Chris

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La Liga – Week 3 – Passing Dominates Early

For those not familiar with this phrase – Passing domina temprana (Passing dominates early) – get used to it as my Possession with Purpose analyses moves to La Liga.

I’ll get to the details behind that view a bit later but first a look at the traditional analysis on PWP plus an early focus, like with the Bundesliga, on the slow starters.

To begin…

The Composite PWP (CPWP) Strategic Index through Week 3:

CPWP Strategic Index La Liga Week 3

The clear leader here is Barcelona – as noted last week a team passing Barcelona might find it difficult (both on the pitch and in the league table).

Knowing that I’ll prefer to wait on digging into Valencia, Seville, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid till a bit later.

For now, since this is a relegation league, like everyone else in the World apart from Major League Soccer, let’s take a peak at teams who’ve opened at a snails pace:  Levante, Espanyol, Cordoba, Almeria, and Rayo.

  1. Levante – bottom feeder – the worst in team performance to begin – enough said.
  2. Espanyol – while they sit on just one point they are near mid-table in CPWP – that means they are either performing pretty good in attack – or they are performing pretty good in defense – or – they are weak in both, but not REALLY weak yet…
  3. Cordoba – On two points and near bottom; Malaga have four points and are placed further down – perhaps??? the APWP and DPWP will help shine a light on that?
  4. Almeria – not quite as good in overall performance compared to Espanyol – but they are higher up the CPWP food chain.
  5. Rayo – like Almeria and Cordoba they are on two points – oddly enough they are on the positive end of the CPWP Index – more to follow on that.

 Next up Attacking (APWP) Strategic Index:

APWP Strategic Index La Liga Week 3The surprise here for me is seeing Valencia ahead of Barcelona – for me this reinforces, at least for now, that obnoxiously huge levels of passing numbers don’t over-influence the Index.

As for the bottom feeders… here you go:

  1. Levante – again – bottom of the pile.  They almost look oxygen starved given their major drop off to the right of  Villareal…
  2. Espanyol – mid-table of the Index – so not overly dominant in APWP – perhaps this means they are roughly mid-table in the DPWP Index?
  3. Cordoba – about 1/3rd the way up from bottom – nothing eye catching at the moment and certainly showing better team attacking than Malaga.
  4. Almeria – like Cordoba – about 1/3rd of the way from bottom; are both these teams showing early indications they might be better placed, in the league table, a bit later this year?  Hard to say – we will have to wait and see.
  5. Rayo – again, up near the top half – I suppose that means their DPWP leaves a bit to be desired.  Of course the other issue might be who they’ve already played so far this year…  Elche, Deportivo, and Atletico Madrid… somehow; even without watching this team play I suspect they won’t stay in the bottom third for long…  It would be interesting to hear thoughts from those who follow La Liga a bit closer though.

Moving on to Defending (DPWP) Strategic Index:

DPWP Strategic Index La Liga Week 3As expected – a team with huge passing numbers is likely to be in the top half (at least huge by Barcelona standards).  More interesting, and good stead for Villareal, is their position near the top of DPWP.

In looking at the early relegation battle here’s how the bottom five look:

  1. Levante – near bottom; and given past history on some teams in MLS – I’d say they are an early bet to get relegated – even after just three weeks; provided their defense doesn’t perform better compared to others.
  2. Espanyol – ah… here’s where things get a bit dodgy; they seem okay in attack and overall yet their defense is what is letting them down.  Does that continue?  We’ll see…
  3. Cordoba – like Espanyol – they are near bottom in DPWP – that means of course, that the opponents are not only completing good numbers of passes, but it also means they are penetrating, creating and generating shots taken that hit the back of the net – all told they’ve conceded four goals and scored just two.
  4. Almeria – a bit higher up the DPWP Index, this may provide an early indication that this team is slightly better than the two points that they have.  More to follow…
  5. Rayo – again quite good and not expected given their APWP and CPWP – those two draws against Deportivo and Atletico Madrid have done them well… as noted in the APWP thoughts; I’d offer this team may not stay in the bottom third for long.

Now for the “more to follow” on this league being a passing league – the CPWP Strategic Index for teams where they have exceeded the league average in volume of passes (415):

DPWP Strategic Index La Liga Passes Greater Than 415 Week 3In terms of overall performance it would appear that there are roughly eight teams that average more than 415 passes while also generating other positive attacking outcomes.

Note that Rayo and Levante are in this mix… In considering the poor performances for Levante so far this season is it better or worse that they are attempting to mix it up with some of the other teams who are really – really good at passing?

I wonder if Levante also has games that are below the league average of 415 passes?

To answer that question here’s the CPWP Strategic Index where teams’ passing volume has not exceeded the league average:

DPWP Strategic Index La Liga Passes Less Than 415 Week 3In answer to the leading question, yes Levante have games where their total passes fall below the league average.  And like when they exceed that figure they are near the bottom.

Only Rayo is not in the mix for the current bottom dwellers – again that seems to reinforce that Rayo may end up being a bit higher in the table as the season plays on.

In addition, note that Villareal were a better team in overall performance (positive ~.4) when exceeding the league average compared to (~-1.2) when falling below the league average.  Having played Barcelona skews that Index rating here I’m sure…. On the flip side they defeated Levante and drew nil-nil with Granada.

And of the teams that don’t pass a lot – does this show (already?) that teams like Deportivo, Eibar, Atletico Madrid, and Real Sociedad are better in counter-attacking and direct attacking than a team like Eiche, Villareal, or Athletic Club?

I’m not sure – but it sure does raise some interesting questions as PWP comes to La Liga.

Before moving on; I wonder how this Index will look at the halfway point of the season… time will tell.

In Closing…

A wrap up of sorts for the five bottom dwellers with a focus on overall passing accuracy:

  1. Levante – 3rd worst = 70% – the key stat here appears to be goals scored – they have none.
  2. Espanyol – 8th worst = 75.08% – the key stat here appears to be the opponents ability to put a shot taken on goal – 44.09% – 2nd worst
  3. Cordoba – 10th worst = 76.62% – the key stat here appears to be lack of penetration (17.27% of their possession results in penetration) 3rd worst
  4. Almeria – 7th best = 77.72% – the key stat here appears to be controlling time and space in defending – as the opponent percentage of penetration increases so does the percentage of shots taken, shots on goal, and goals scored; in other words their defending percentages get worse as the opponent draws nearer the goal.
  5. Rayo – 6th best = 78.27% – the key state here appears to an inordinately high percentage of shots on goal faced versus the 2nd lowest amount of possession, by percentage, of their opponents.

Overall, even after just three weeks and the dominant indication on how passing influences CPWP, the Index is still not overly influenced by it when peeling back overall performance.

Still early days though, and the race to avoid relegation has begun.

I’ll not ignore the top half of the table but I’ll also not ignore the bottom half.

Best, Chris

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Bundesliga – Week 3 – Relegation Discussion Already? U Bet!

No doubt Bayern Munich will continue their disciplined march to the top of the Bundesliga League Table;  a few teams like, Borussia Dortmund, or even Hannover 96, might have something to say about that.

Before getting started on this week’s update though; a reminder for those who wish to refresh, or learn anew, what Possession with Purpose is all about, click this Introduction.

Now, for today, I’m going to take a look at some pending relegation battles from two points of view; my standard approach on PWP and then a split view in how the teams compare when filtering CPWP based upon the volume of passes teams offer.

So with Week three in the history books, here’s the five teams who have failed to get a good start on Points: SC Freiburg, Hertha Berlin, FC Schalke 04, Vfb Stuttgart, and Hamburger.

My traditional Compositive Possession with Purpose (CPWP) Strategic Index:

CPWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Through Week 3

The top three in the Index also match the top three in the League Table; the correlation to average Points earned (R2) after Week three is (.74). 

Early days still, but (okay) strong when comparing to average points per game.  So you know – Goal Differential – the single, most consistent statistic relative to points, R2 is .94…

As for the other end of the Bundesliga League Table?  Well…  here we go.

  1. SC Freiburg – not bad for starters; although with just one point they do appear to be holding their head above water when it comes to having a positive CPWP Index number; that means their Attacking PWP outweighs their Defending PWP (how good the opponent does against them).
  2. Hertha Berlin – hmmm; not so good but not bottom, yet…???
  3. FC Schalke 04 – again, like Hertha Berlin, their difference between APWP and DPWP is not so good…
  4. Vfb Stuttgart – bottom dweller!?  Is THIS the early sign of things to come?  How long before changes are made – or will they be made?  I don’t know – guess we will see.
  5. Hamburger – same hear, hopefully for Hambuger supporters this team won’t be minced meat all season long…

So how have these five teams opened the season in the Attacking PWP Strategic Index (APWP)?

APWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Through Week 3
A surprise perhaps to see Hertha so high? 

At first glance… Hertha Berlin are pretty close to being up top in attack – if you follow Major League Soccer you’ll know that the Portland Timbers are a very strong attacking side – but, they are also pretty poor in defending.  Will that strong attack carry the day?

As for the others:

  1. SC Freiburg – again, not bad for starters; mid-Index so plenty of room to go higher or… lower!?
  2. FC Schalke 04 – just a tick below SC Freiburg… nothing overly compelling one way or the other yet; so plenty of room for them to show improvement against others as well.
  3. Vfb Stuttgart – near bottom dweller! Not a good sign; but on the bright side it may provide a great contrast if improvements in attacking are made.
  4. Hamburger – changing places – this time they are the bottom dwellers.  Does this mean devastating attacks are a rare thing?  Probably…  We’ll know more about their consistency of purpose, or lack thereof, as the season unfolds.

Moving on to the Defending PWP Strategic Index (DPWP):

DPWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Through Week 3So Bayern Munich are at the top –  as are Hannover… hmmm – when do those guys play?  Saturday, October 4… 6:30 AM PST I think…  for those in Germany, I have no clue…

So how about those five teams in DPWP?

  1.  SC Freiburg – near the top (5th best) – that’s probably a good thing for Freiburg supporters.  I personally think it’s better to have a better defending team than attacking team – usually a better defense keeps a team from relegation.
  2. Hertha Berlin – where Hertha Berlin were fourth best in attack – they are now worst in defending.  Might that comparison with the Portland Timbers, in MLS, be true?  Hard to say – but the opponent penetration, shots taken, shots on goal and goals scored against will be something to watch for as the season unfolds.
  3. FC Schalke 04 – near bottom – all told, kinda in the middle of near bottom and near middle; perhaps ‘consistency in being near worst’, as opposed to worst, keeps them from being relegated?
  4. Vfb Stuttgart – not as low as Hertha, nor FC Schalke, but something to consider if they remain consistently bad in defending against their opponents.
  5. Hamburger – If I were a Hamburger supporter I’d be feeling a bit better seeing that Hamburger are above average when it comes to defending.  Defense wins Championships, and as such, you would expect good defending, on a regularl basis, to help them survive relegation.

Okay… with that offered here’s a slightly different view of CPWP.

I’m going to apply a filter, before hand, to see which of these five teams performs better or worse when it comes to the volume of passes they have in their games.

First up is a look at the CPWP Index where the volume of passes in a game exceeds the league average of 427:

CPWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Through Week 3 Passes Greater Than 427

When Frieburg exceed 427 passes, per game, their CPWP Index is positive – in other words they perform better, as a team, when they pass more often.

Of course this is early days and only represents three games but – it is what it is… and any positives are worth noting at this early stage.

Stuttgart, Hamburger, and Schalke all have exceeded the league average at least once – yet even when they do they don’t perform so well as a team.

Note Hertha Berlin is not here – what that means is Hertha are attempting to play more of a counter-attacking/direct style approach, in lieu of a possession-based game (compared to others)…  at least that holds true if the measurements in MLS have relevance to the measurements/outcomes in the Bundesliga.

I’ll look for those comparisons later this year.

Now for the CPWP Index where the volume of passes falls below the league average of 427:

CPWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Through Week 3 Passes Less Than 427

There’s Hertha Berlin near bottom – so it would appear that Hertha will be playing slightly more direct, and a more counterattacking style in order to try to glean points in the league table.  Others may have a different view that follow Hertha Berlin more closely – if so please add your comments/thoughts.

As for the other four?

Schalke, Hamburger, Stuttgart, and Freiburg all bring up the bottom of this Index – clearly, for me, falling below the average in league passing is a great indicator, at this time, on how the overall team performance plays out for winners and losers…

Will this pattern continue?  I’m not sure, but it’s certainly something to review and follow as the season progresses.

In Closing…

In a wrap up of the early season bottom dwellers on Passing Accuracy:

  1.  SC Freiburg – 3rd best = 80.15% – key stat appears to be – one goal scored and 2nd worst percentage of shots taken per penetration (13.68%) {League average 19.03%}
  2. Hertha Berlin – 3rd worst = 65.50% – key stat appears to be 3rd worst in goals scored against per shots on goal (53.33%)
  3. FC Schalke 04 – 7th best = 76.42% – key stat appears to be 4th lowest percentage of opponent penetration but the 7th highest goals scored per shots on goal.
  4. Vfb Stuttgart – 6th best = 77.62% – key stat appears to be – one goal scored and worst percentage of shots taken per penetration (12.84%)
  5. Hamburger – 8th best = 76.39% – key stat appears to be – no goals scored

Notice FSV Mainz – when exceeding the league average, in passes, their team performance is not near as good as when falling below the league average.

Might this be an early indicator that they are a good (direct attacking/counter-attacking) team?  What do others think that watch the Bundesliga on a regular basis?

All for now…

Best, Chris

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Consistency of Purpose – Defending – Major League Soccer

Consistency of Purpose – as a business analyst I know that organizations usually strive for consistency in performance.  The general idea behind this is that before you can really begin to assess what improvements need to be made you first need to have some sort of ‘control’ over the effort.

In laymen’s ‘statistical’ terms – the lower the standard devation of an activity the more control there is in the effort – and therefore a better opportunity to actually improve the output.

For me, this approach should also apply in soccer team performance – the less standard deviation you have (from the mean/norm/average) the better; the worse the variance the more ‘out of control’.

So in keeping with my previous article on Consistency of Purpose (In Attack) I’m offering up the standard deviations for teams as they defend against their opponents.

In preparation for my analysis on Consistency of Purpose a few details to set the stage up front:

  1. This approach takes a look at Defending only.
  2. The statistical analysis will measure Standard Deviation.
  3. Standard Deviation – A low standard deviation indicates that the data points tend to be very close to the mean (also called expected value); a high standard deviation indicates that the data points are spread out over a large range of values.
  4. In other words I will look at how consistent the opponents are in my six primary PWP measurements (for each game – for each team) and identify the standard deviation (variation) that team has in being (regularly) near their average versus not being near their average.
  5. For example, a team’s opponent averages 75% passing accuracy against them – a lower standard deviation would mean that the team regularly comes close to hitting that average (a close pattern say +/-4%). A higher standard deviation would mean the team would have a high difference (say +/- 20-25%) on creating that average.
  6. At this stage, the variation will not address home versus away games – nor will it filter volume of passes the opponent offers – I’ll do that at the end of the season.
  7. What this translates to – is consistency of purpose.  Are you consistently near a target on a regular basis or are you sporadic and “disorganized” in hitting your target on a regular basis.
  8. The lower the better when it comes to viewing this as a measure of consistency.
  9. Areas evaluated in how the opponent performs against you include Passing Accuracy across the Entire Pitch, Passing Accuracy within the Final Third, Penetration percentage into the Final Third based upon overall possession, Shots taken per penetration percentage, Shots on Goal per Shots Taken, Goals Scored per Shots on Goal, and Goals Against.

Before kickoff here’s how all the teams line up against each other in Composite PWP through Week 27:

CPWP MLS Through Week 27

LA Galaxy remain atop the CPWP Index – statistically speaking the R2 is .817 – the highest correlation so far this year to Points in the League Table.  And from what I have seen, in other statistical analyses approaches, this Index continues to remain the most relevant independent (publicly generated) Index in Soccer…

Of note; my next article to be published, following this one, will againt take a different look with this Index – what I will do is split the Index into two parts – the first CPWP Index will look at how well the teams perform that:

  • Exceed 425 Passes per game (the league average) versus
  • Fall below 425 Passes per game

The intent will be to look and see what teams perform better or worse given their general volume of passes; the results may surprise some folks…

Anyhow – I digress – here’s the first of seven diagrams plotting the Standard Deviations of team’s as they defend against their opponent with respect to Passing Accuracy:

Consistency of Purpose Opponent Passing Accuracy Week 27

Passing Accuracy across the Entire Pitch:

The team with the lowest (best) standard deviation is Houston – as noted earlier in the year Houston made two defensive acquisitions – Garrido and Beasley – in case you missed it I think they have taken seven out of nine points since those players were added.

Chivas USA are next up for consistency – like Houston, consistency here relates to being poor in team defending against opponents passing accuracy – as such it should be pretty easy to point out all the weak links if that level of consistency, in being poor – with respect to final results – continues.

Near the top are both Columbus and LA Galaxy – if you recall from the Consistency of Purpose, in attacking, Columbus were pretty consistent in their own Passing Accuracy (most consistent) – and likewise they are up top again.

As noted in that article, a ‘beat’ writer had labeled them as ‘over-achievers’ – that’s not only complete bollocks when looking at their consistency in attack – it’s also complete bollocks when looking at their consistency in defending…

What’s scary here is that LA Galaxy are 4th best – so with a superb record – they are also superb in consistently managing the opponents passing accuracy… can you say MLS Champion?

At the opposite end is Colorado, and oddly enough, Real Salt Lake – why is that?

For Real Salt Lake, I’d offer that this may relate to the different styles their opponents take when either playing them at home or on the road – more to follow when the season ends on this one.

As for Colorado – they’ve had a number of injuries this year and they will, at times, cede possession to gain better effect on their counter-attack / direct attack – with that I’d expect their team to vary greatly in how well the opponent passes against them.

What to look for is more consistency as the data points narrow down to shot taken, shots on goal, and goals scored.  More to follow here…

On the other hand, Portland don’t really look to cede possession to often, so what might be impacting this level of inconsistency in managing the opponents passing accuracy – knowing that their Goals Against is one of the worst in MLS?

Are they more or less consistent in defending as the pitch gets smaller?  And might that level of consistency help or hinder their chances of making the playoffs?  More to follow…

Opponent Passing Accuracy in the Final Third:

Consistency of Purpose Opponent Passing Accuracy Final Third Week 27
The one that stands out the most is Colorado – so the hope that the variation decreases isn’t occuring with Colorado; they have an even greater deviation, from the norm here, than they do with Passing Accuracy (7% versus 12% here).  Is that a surprise?

For me, no.  And here’s why…

Also trailing at the end is San Jose – like Colorado they try to play for counterattacking – and since they are also a direct attacking team it’s reasonable that these two teams would be here.

As for Vancouver – hmmm… I’m not sure – perhaps at the end of the season this will take better shape when viewing home and away tactics/outputs a bit more?

In looking again at Columbus – more consistency of purpose – and what makes this even better for the Crew is that where they have one or two players who aren’t performing, it will make it easier to “see” who they are…  a much stronger and more reliable way to help the team ‘fix’ what’s not working…

Percentage of Penetration versus Possession:

Consistency of Purpose Opponent Penetration Per Possession Week 27

In looking to understand New England – the most consistent team here – figure the more consistent this team is in defending against penetration the easier it may be for them to plan on what defending tactics they will execute game in and game out.

The more predictable the opponent is in how frequent they penetrate the easier (in theory) it should be to defend against them…

On the other end of the scale we see New York – I suppose, for many, a high variation is no surprise here.

Many would not consider Petke a defensive minded coach – and the tougher it is to manage the midfield, prior to penetration, the tougher it may be to sustain consistency as the opponent looks to score goals.

For me, as a defensive minded guy, it would be this primary statistic I’d look at first.  But not until filtering out the differences between home and away as well as volume of passes faced; as noted earlier – I’ll do that at the end of the season.

Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession:

Consistency of Purpose Opponent Shots Taken Per Penetration Possession Week 27

Here’s where the real rubber begins to meet the road…

In my view teams that have a wide variance here gets down to what inconsistency that team has in rgularly limiting time and space for shots to be taken – OR – it’s a reflection of how impatient some teams may be against that team in taking shots given more or less opportunity.

In looking at San Jose being the most consistent here I’d offer this gets back to how effective they are in managing the zone defense they have – recall that both San Jose and Colorado were pretty inconsistent when it comes to opponent passing accuracy within and outside the final third – here those numbers translate to more consistency of purpose in managing the opponent as they actually penetrate with the intent to score.

On the flip side Columbus were pretty consistent in managing the opponents passing within and outside the final third – yet that consistency begins to translate to more varation as the opponent looks to take shots.

Do they get better or worse in their variation?  More to follow…

Opponent Shots on Goal versus Shots Taken:

Consistency of Purpose Opponent Shots on Goal Per Shots Taken Week 27

Sadly, for Colorado, that consistency seen in looking to manage Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession doesn’t translate to a matching level of consistency in Shots on Goal per Shots Taken.

In other words Colorado is more likely to yield more time and space to the opponent as they take their shots – hence more of their opponents shots are on goal than San Jose – who’s above average in consistency.

The most telling level of consistency here is Portland – and what’s really sad about this is that they are consistently bad – I can say that because their Goals Against is one of the highest in the League.

If there was ever a compelling piece of evidence – given goals against – I’m not sure.  Others may have a different view on this.

The flip side to this is that it should make it easier to analyze where the consistency in weakness comes from – therefore menaing it should be easier to correct for the future.

With respect to LA Galaxy, and being the most inconsistent – I’m not sure why that is and perhaps it will show better when I split the analysis up based upon opponent’s passing volume or their home versus away variations.

In considering Philadelphia – a likely impact  here is the change in leadership – as Hackworth was replaced perhaps the team  made some intergral changes in their defensive approach?  Like LA, I’ll look for that when the season ends.

Opponent Goals Scored versus Shots on Goal:

Consistency of Purpose Opponent Goals Scored Per Shots on Goal Week 27

Up near the top, again, in consistency for this indicator is Portland.

Really reinforcing, for me, that their consistency in being bad in defending (poor positional play in ceding time and space) continues… some might even offer that this translates to the need of bringing in a new goal keeper as well???

For me, it also supports the volume of individual mistakes made, consistently, at the wrong time… given their high Goals Against.

There’s San Jose, again near the best when it comes to consistency.

So that consistency in yielding time and space, for the opponent to pass and penetrate, also translates back to consistency in what goals the opponent scores versus Shots on Goal.

I’d offer this should give Watson, and the front office, pretty good background statistical information to fix what defensive issues they may have as the season closes and/or in preparation for next year.

Colorado, on the other hand, who was consistent in yielding time and space for the opponent to move the ball, continues to show how poor they are in managing that opponent consistency as they enter and create/generate shots that score goals.

Perhaps that is down to injuries?  I’m not so sure – I’d offer it may be down to an imbalance they have across the back-four; along with support from their midfield.

On the tail end is Real Salt Lake – with the World Cup and injuries I suppose this isn’t too much of a surprise.

But with the fourth lowest Goals Against (35) in MLS, that variation is probably not too much to worry about.

And with Jeff Attinella having over 700 minutes of playing time, compared to Nick Rimando’s 1800 minutes, perhaps that variation is more a reflection of good goal keeping versus great goal keeping?

Note how low Sporting KC is here – perhaps that is more about the volume of red and yellow cards they’ve recieved more than anything else???  As the season ends I’ll peel this back a bit more too…

Opponent Goals Against:

Consistency of Purpose Opponent Goals Scored Against Week 27

Although Ryan Nelson was sacked, it would appear that his overall approach in managing a consistent level of defending was best in MLS (with respect to results), at this time.

What that means is that – going into most every game – Ryan Nelson could expect, with some level of consistency, how many goals the opponent might score.

That, in turn, should help him devise what attacking approach he might use to maximize points.

Indeed – he was third in the Eastern Conference league table when he got sacked – now Toronto is seventh…

In considering Colorado – things just go from bad to worse – consistency in ceding possession and penetration has not resulted in consistency when it comes to managing the bottom line.

While perhaps somewhat cynical, I’d offer this inconsistency, as the pitch gets smaller, will make it very hard for them to piece together a final playoff push – as in the bottom line – they really can’t rely on a consistent performance from their defense.

In retrospect – with the Timbers being much more consistent in their defensive weaknesses it may actually be easier for Caleb Porter to manage what expectations he has going in… thereby easing the stress; it is what it is…

In closing:

NOTE:  A compelling issue here with respect to ‘standard deviations’ is that there is the potential for the variations to be a FUNCTION of which conference a team is in.

It should be noted that a number of teams play counter-attacking and direct versus those that play possession-based soccer; that is why I will be filtering this data, at the end of the season, by volume of passes.

No doubt the consistency of purpose will look different when teams have completed the season and additional filters are in place (i.e volume of passes faced or home versus away).

But there are patterns and some sense can be made based upon what is seen that is normally unseen…

The screws tighten even more…

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark.


Possession with Purpose – Revised Introduction

It’s time to offer up a revised and shortened version of my Possession with Purpose Analysis.

My intent here is to:

  1. Provide an update that may help simplify this effort, and
  2. Include links to articles, you, my readers, have found to be of great interest in the last year.

To begin… Possession with Purpose (PWP):

The End State, as always this is good to know up front:

Create an objective Strategic Family of Indices, with publicly made available data, that has relevance and helps identify the strengths and weaknesses of team performance ‘outside’ the realm of Points in the League Table.

Of note; this analysis has been presented, and recieved with great interest, at the World Conference on Science and Soccer of 2014.  So it’s not a fly-by-night attempt to offer up analysis that can’t translate back to the soccer and science industry or help inform the general, or well educated, soccer community (both here and across the pond) about Footy…

The Intent:

Create a Family of Indices that measure the ‘bell curve’ of strategic activities that occur in a game of football (soccer); recognizing that in order to score goals the following activities usually need to occur:

  1. Gain possession of the ball
  2. Move the ball
  3. Penetrate the opponents defending final third
  4. Generate a shot taken
  5. That ends up on target and,
  6. Gets past the keeper

From a statistical (measurement) standpoint those activities are organized into these six categories:

  1. Possession percentage
  2. Passing Accuracy across the Entire Pitch
  3. Passing Percentage within and into the Opponents Final Third compared to overall possession (i.e. = Penetration)
  4. Shots Taken per Percentage of Penetration
  5. Shots on Goal per Shots Taken
  6. Goals Scored per Shots on Goal

It’s not a secret formula but I do retain Copyright.

The Family of Strategic Indices – there are three of them:

  1. Attacking Possession with Purpose (APWP)
  2. Defending Possession with Purpose (DPWP)
  3. Composite Possession with Purpose (CPWP)

APWP Index:  How effective a team is in performing those six process steps throughout the course of a game.  Example:


DPWP Index:  How effective the opponent is in performing those six process steps, throughout the course of a game, against you.  Example:


CPWP Index:  The mathematical difference between the APWP Index and DPWP Index.  Example:


The Analysis:

Simply stated, the analysis stemming from this effort is a comparison and contrast between how a team performs (in the bell curve of these activities) relative to other teams in their league “without” including points in the league table.

Statistical Correlation:

Last year the CPWP Strategic Index Correlation (relationship) to Points in the Table, for Major League Soccer, was .77; this year, at the end Week 26, the R2 is .81.

In returning back to the End State:

“Create an objective Strategic Family of Indices, with publicly made available data, that has relevance and helps identify the strengths and weaknesses of team performance ‘outside’ the realm of Points in the League Table.”

Given the very high level of Correlation this Index has, I’d say this Family of Indices has statistical relevance; others may view that differently?

Examples;  links from previous analyses are provided below to give you a taste of future articles to expect:

In Closing:

Others in mainstream media sometimes offer up subjective opinions that may not be substantiated with objective data; I won’t do that.

Every shred of analysis offered here will include some sort of objective data to support an opinion or conclusion.

Like any other mainstream business; statistical analysis provides objective data as a tool to leverage when looking to make business decisions.  It is not a substitute for the seasoned leadership needed to make final decisions.

I don’t advocate that this analysis is the ‘answer’ or the only tool that substantiates one view – in a soccer match, with 40,000 supporters in attendance, I’ve learned that those 40,000 supporters have 40,000 sets of eyes that see things differently.

On this site, this information and analyses presented, is merely my view, from my eyes, in how I see the game – hopefully, in order to make my future articles of better value, others will add their comments, thoughts, and questions.

Finally, I’m not sure how this will develop but I’ve been approached to provide a manuscript for this analytical effort – for publication in a Sports Science Journal.   More to follow on how that goes.  

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

NOTE:  All data used to generate this analysis stems from OPTA through a number of open/public websites across Europe and America.

My thanks to OPTA and all those open websites for helping to facilitate my own analysis and potential improvements that may arise from this effort.

Colorado Rapids Ripped, Sundered, and Shredded – MLS Soccer through Week 26

It’s been awhile, I suppose, since a score-line of 6-nil has popped up in Major League Soccer and given the rarity, at least this year, I figured it’d be a worthy way to peel back how things are going in my traditional review of Major League Soccer each week.

As for the last time a score-line like that happened I haven’t got an historical clue but it’s the biggest difference in a score-line I’ve seen since analyzing team performance on Possession with Purpose.

In fact I do recall a five – nil win earlier this year, by New England, over Seattle.  And a five – nil win, by Montreal, over Houston last year, but nothing comes to mind for a score-line of six – nil.  (Perhaps?) others may know of a really lopsided win like this one in the history of MLS.

In all the games so far this year this was the most dominating ‘result’ and ‘outright team performance in possession with purpose’ of anyone; in case you were wondering – in the Timbers game against San Jose, this past weekend, their APWP for that game was 2.6938.

So when I mean comprehensive – I mean from, square one to the opponents goal, comprehensive… Only seven times have teams shattered the 3.0 barrier in the APWP Index this year; here they are in order:

  1. LA Galaxy 6-nil win over Colorado, Week 26 = 3.1740
  2. FC Dallas 4-1 win over Houston, Week 5 = 3.1032
  3. LA Galaxy 5-1 win over New England, Week 16 = 3.0858
  4. Columbus Crew 3-nil over Houston, Week 25 = 3.0675
  5. Chicago Fire 5-4 win over New York, Week 9 = 3.0302
  6. Sporting KC 3-nil win over Montreal, Week 9 = 3.0062, and finally
  7. DC United 3-1 win over Chivas USA, Week 19 = 3.0008

Note: the games in bold print, with italics, are games where the losing side had a Red Card.

For me, this reinforces that my ‘not‘ counting Red Cards, as a separate data point, to influence this Index, is appropriate.

If I were to add Red Cards, to the Index equation, a team would be penalized twice.

With that offered here’s the overall Composite PWP through Week 26:

CPWP Strategic Index MLS Week 26I’ve already touched on some observations here in my article earlier this week, about Standard Deviations, so just a couple of additional bits and pieces.

The R2 (correlation of this Index to Points in the League Table) is .79 this week; compared to .80 last week…

Relation to the League Table:

  • Five out of the top six Eastern Conference teams, in this Index, are currently above the red line in the League Table; with Philadelphia and New York swapped in this Index compared to the League Table.  (80% accurate)
  • Five out of the top five Western Conference teams, in this Index, are currently above the red line in the League Table.  (100% accurate)
  • Gentle reminder – the End State of this Possession with Purpose Analysis is to create an Index that comes as close to matching the League Table, as possible, without using points earned from wins or draws.

Moving on to the Attacking PWP Strategic Index:

APWP Strategic Index MLS Week 26

As expected, the top team in APWP remains LA Galaxy – all told a 10% lead over all other teams in MLS.  Chivas USA, and Wilmer Cabrera (bless him for trying) remain bottom.

The worst team in attack specifically for Week 26 (only) was Vancouver; with DC United 2nd worst and Toronto FC 3rd worst.  DC United and Vancouver played to a nil-nil draw so that’s probably no surprise.

As for Toronto – well, who bloody knows?

As offered by my friends Stephen Brandt (along with Keith Kokinda) on this latest podcast it appears to many in the northeast that Toronto is battling hard to become the Chivas USA of Canada; seems they are doing a pretty good job of that!

In concerning Portland, who had some records this past week in Shots Taken and Shots on Goal.

We already know, this year, that a critical element to scoring goals (that isn’t really measured publicly) is Time and Space.

In watching that game there is no question the Timbers had time or had space – but rarely did they have both…

As much as it may pain some folks San Jose, believe it or not, were in the right place at the right time (given the volume of shots faced) more often than not…  after all they did block nine of those 32 shots offered.

And if you didn’t know, Portland have four games where their opponent has blocked nine or more shots this year.  Only one other team has had that many shots blocked in more than one game – LA Galaxy; twice.

Seattle has the record this year – they had 12 shots blocked by, guess who, San Jose in Week 23!!!  And guess who one of the teams was that blocked nine or more against LA – yup – San Jose!

Can you say ZONE DEFENSE?

So I’m not sure I completely agree with Caleb Porter when he indicates it’s not about tactics anymore (to paraphrase).

I would offer he really knows it is – but when dropping two points, at home, again… I can certainly empathize with him voicing that in a press conference.

For me, what that translates to is this… given the amount of time left in the season there is absolutely no value and benefit going over technical weaknesses in detail.

They are known, understood, and they need to be filed, recognized for what they are, and move on.

In other words – roll the sleeves up and just bloody get on with the job in hand – win…

Come this next weekend, against Colorado, who were COMPLETELY humiliated by LA Galaxy – you can bet Mastroeni is not only wanting his team to win to get back in the race – but he’s also probably wanting his team to win in order to keep his chances of running the Rapids next year a reality…

With that said, here’s the Defending PWP Strategic Index through Week 26:

DPWP Strategic Index MLS Week 26

I read somewhere, here, that Columbus Crew were the biggest over-achievers in Major League Soccer and slow in defending; bollocks… complete and utter bollocks.

You simply can’t convince me that this team performance Index, with a -.7o correlation to points in the League Table, supports Columbus being “over-achievers and slow in defending”…

Let’s not forget that Columbus is the most consistent team in passing accuracy across MLS (least standard deviation i.e. consistency of purpose)

Indeed, as the Composite PWP Index points out at the beginning of this article, the Columbus Crew are simply a strong team that has been consistently strong throughout the year.

  • At Week four they were best in the CPWP Index
  • At Week seven they were 2nd in the CPWP Index
  • At Week 12 they were 3rd in the CPWP Index
  • At Week 18 they were 5th in the CPWP Index
  • And at week 22 they were 5th in the CPWP Index
  • Now – they have climbed back up to 3rd best in the CPWP Index
  • Not sure there have been many teams, besides LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders, who have been as consistently strong in consistency of purpose.

So like I said – bollocks to them being pidgeon-holed as over-achievers… and while many may disagree, for me, this is just another example of how poorly the mainstream media do in really knowing, understanding and communicating what football (soccer) is all about.

In regarding Houston… and their position in DPWP.

The addition of Luis Garrido has added value; they have pushed up past Chicago Fire SC, and are mere thousandths of a point behind both Montreal and Toronto in team defending.

As for Toronto – they continue their slide…

I’m simply having a hard time wrapping my head around Nelson being sacked, I do see statistical information supporting the sacking but most organizations lean towards ‘results’ as opposed to ‘statistical indicators’… and when it came to results Toronto were third best in the Eastern Conference before Ryan was sacked.

(Perhaps?) this is a ‘team organizational decision making indicator’ (from Toronto FC) where statistical information has as much, if not more value in a coaching change,  than ‘results do’???

In closing…

The screws get turned even tighter… winning is the key but within that phrase there remains the need to tactically ‘get it right’… meaning defense is absolutely critical.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark.

You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp





Consistency of Purpose – MLS Through Week 26

Before digging into a different view on Major League Soccer team performance, this week, I’ll offer up my Possession with Purpose Index for consideration.

A few changes after this week see Columbus jumping past Sporting (rightly so given the Crew won and Sporting didn’t).

In addition, Portland was passed by FC Dallas while a few other teams swapped places.

I wonder if Will Johnson really knows how odd it looks to see him run willy-nilly across the pitch at times, wasting energy, and then offering up an emotional blow-out like he did on Sunday, that simply won’t do as a leader…

The team that had the biggest gain was Philadelphia Union – moving up three spaces and right into the Playoff race – taking six points from a demoralized Toronto side certainly helped.

CPWP Strategic Index MLS Week 26

A reminder – the two yellow stars indicate mid-season coaching changes.

Now for a different view:

In preparation for my analysis on Consistency of Purpose a few details to set the stage up front:

  1. This approach takes a look at Attacking only.
  2. The statistical analysis will measure Standard Deviation.
  3. Standard Deviation – A low standard deviation indicates that the data points tend to be very close to the mean (also called expected value); a high standard deviation indicates that the data points are spread out over a large range of values.
  4. In other words I will look at team Passing Accuracy (for each game – for each team) and identify the standard deviation (variation) that team has in being (regularly) near their average versus not being near their average.
  5. For example, a team averages 75% passing accuracy – a lower standard deviation would mean that the team regularly comes close to hitting that average (a close pattern say +/-4%).  A higher standard deviation would mean the team could have a high difference (say +/- 20-25%) on creating that average.
  6. What this translates to – is consistency of purpose.  Are you consistently near your target on a regular basis or are you sporadic and “disorganized” in hitting your target on a regular basis.
  7. The lower the better when it comes to viewing this as a measure of consistency.
  8. Areas evaluated include Passing Accuracy across the Entire Pitch, Passing Accuracy within the Final Third, Penetration percentage into the Final Third based upon overall possession, Shots taken per penetration percentage, Shots on Goal per Shots Taken and Goals Scored per Shots on Goal.

To begin:  Consistency of Purpose:  Standard Deviation Team Passing Accuracy.

Consistency of Purpose Passing Accuracy Week 26

The team with the most consistency (least variation) in Passing Accuracy through Week 26 is Columbus – on the other end of the scale there’s Chicago Fire Soccer Club.

Columbus Crew also have the best overall passing accuracy of any team in Major League Soccer – so they are not only the best in accuracy (81.40%)  – there are also consistently performing the best, week in and week out.

Toronto recently sacked Ryan Nelson – in overall Passing Accuracy Toronto are third worst in average (74.35%) – in addition they are also the 2nd worst team in consistently hitting their expected value – i.e. no consistency and very poor performance compared to others.

Perhaps some might see that as useful information in understanding why the Toronto Front Office sacked Ryan?

Vancouver – for now Vancouver average 79.49% Passing Accuracy per game (4th best in MLS) but they are 10th worst in consistency of hitting their expected value (mean).   So while they are pretty good when it comes to average Passing Accuracy – they lack consistency in hitting that expected value on a regular basis.

 Consistency of Purpose:  Standard Deviation Team Passing Accuracy Final Third.

Consistency of Purpose Passing Accuracy Final Third Week 26

The team with the most consistent level of Passing Accuracy within the Final Third is New York; their variation is less than 5% with what is expected, given how they’ve performed this year.  

The worst team in this category, for consistency, is Sporting KC (>9% variation from game to game).  In total their overall average is 64.67% – so through the course of the season Sporting have had a very large variation in the in creating that average.

Interesting here, again, is Toronto – they are 7th most consistent in hitting their expected Final Third Passing Accuracy percentage – the problem is that better level of consistency is based upon an average that’s just 62.73%; the 5th worst in MLS.

Again a pattern of consistency – but consistency with respect to poor performance – another nail in the Nelson coffin?

Consistency of Purpose:  Standard Deviation Team Penetration Percentage Per Possession.

Consistency of Purpose Penetration Percentage Per Possession Week 26

Atop the queue, again, is New York – they lead MLS in the consistency when it comes to in penetrating the opponents final third per possession.

In other words New York expects to hit a target of ~ 22% per game – and their variation in hitting that target is quite small; especially when compared to Portland.

For Portland they’ve been as high as 44% (yesterday against San Jose) and as low as 8.69% against Houston, game 8.

Given that wide disparity, it’s no wonder their standard deviation hovers near 9%.  Put in other words they are not really that consistent, game to game, in hitting an expected value like New York is.

Might a large  variation here mean the opponent is controlling more of how much Portland penetrates than Portland themselves?

Consistency of Purpose:  Standard Deviation Team Shots Taken Per Penetration.

Consistency of Purpose Shots Taken Per Penetrating Possession Week 26The team most consistent in this category is Real Salt Lake (just over 4% variation for the season so far).   Note that New York are up here again.

In considering how consistent New York has been in hitting their expected values might this mean they are more predictable in what outcomes they might generate?

I’m not sure at this stage but I’ll look into that after the season is over.

For now know that Vancouver are on the bottom end of this scale – and given their results of late perhaps this high amount of variation means one of two things.

Either they aren’t getting the appropriate free space and time to take a shot – or – the players are looking to take a more perfect shot than is reasonable?

Consistency of Purpose:  Standard Deviation Team Shots on Goal Per Shots Taken.

Consistency of Purpose Shots on Goal Per Shots Taken Week 26

Ah… at last, Toronto makes it to the front of the queue.  An interesting note here – quality usually beats quantity in this league and when it comes to the bottom line – a critical piece of that puzzle is putting shots taken on goal.

So this is a good thing for Toronto… or is it?

At this time Toronto are third worst in putting shots on goal from shots taken (34.51%).

So what this really means is that they, again, are consistent in being consistently poor compared to other teams in MLS.

Is this another nail in the coffin on why Ryan Nelson may have been sacked?

As for the others near the top – note again New York is right there; as are Sporting, Portland, and Seattle.

On the other end is San Jose – by a large margin.

Perhaps a reasonable view here is that the teams on the lower end are simply taking harder, or more frequent shots that don’t hit the target… might more patience change that?

I think so but that might be pretty hard to prove…

As for DC United and New England being on the lower end… it would appear these two teams might have some tendencies that vary given home and away games; when the season ends I’ll look into these attacking Standard Deviations again.

Consistency of Purpose:  Standard Deviation Team Goals Scored Per Shots on Goal.

Consistency of Purpose Goals Scored Per Shots on Goal Week 26

Real Salt Lake lead the league in consistency here – but when it actually comes to scoring those goals they are 7th worst in MLS.

That being said, if predictability were specifically focused on goal scoring only; it seems pretty likely Real Salt Lake would be the most predictable.

On the flip side that means the team with the greatest variation in expected goals is FC Dallas; given their high volume of Red Cards this year perhaps that makes sense?  Others may have a different view…

Consistency of Purpose:  Standard Deviation Team Ranking.

Consistency of Purpose Attacking the Opponent Least Combined Deviation Ranking Week 26

In case you are interested the team who has the most, combined, overall consistency in hitting expected values is New York; the team that has the most variation in hitting expected values is New England.

As noted – this could mean that a team with greater variation, while winning, is harder to defend against than a team who is consistent in hitting expected values.

I’ll leave that for others to decide.

For now I’d simply offer that New York is pretty predictable in what they will do when they play a game – as is Real Salt Lake…

In Closing:

If you had to choose which team statistic you’d like to have as the most consistent, which would it be?

For next week I will include a look at Defending Consistency of Purpose.

In the following week I’ll chart MLS, as a whole; the intent there will be to use that information as a comparison when viewing the same outputs for the English Premier League, Bundesliga, and La Liga.

For me, the greater the variation in Passing Accuracy across all those leagues might help create a more realistic ‘apples to apples’ comparison between the leagues…

Best, Chris

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La Liga – Semana 2 – ¿Quién va a mantenerse al día con el Barcelona ?

Se me pidió que publicar este artículo en español – usando Google Traductor así es como Inglés traducido al español – espero que sea útil ….

Aun cuando todavía es pronto sólo hay algunas cosas que ya se hacen a sí mismos clara – El Barcelona es el equipo a vencer en la Liga.

Estoy seguro de FC Bayern le gustaría que la simplicidad en la Bundesliga , pero no tan …

Cómo muchos pretendientes son contendientes en la Liga Premier Inglés es también otra historia … pero el Chelsea sin duda han abierto también.

Si usted está leyendo acerca de la posesión con Propósito , por primera vez , haga clic en este enlace para obtener más detalles sobre este amplio equipo atacando y defendiendo Index.

Por primera vez , este año , estoy usando este enfoque analítico para medir el rendimiento del equipo en el Inglés Premier League, la Bundesliga y la Liga.

Con esto , aquí está mi índice compuesto Estratégico PWP en La Liga , después de la Semana:

Un recordatorio – el Índice Compuesto Estratégico es una medida de la diferencia entre el índice de banda PWP y Defensa Índice PWP ; como tal es la intención es ofrecer una visión global ( estratégica ) de cómo los equipos realizan en esas zonas , sin tener en cuenta los logros individuales específicos …

Para mí , los equipos ganan y pierden los equipos , para cuantificar que un individuo tiene tanto poder es (generalmente ) inapropiado.

Pero como hockey sobre hielo y Wayne Gretzky , hay Lionel Messi en el fútbol y – al menos por ahora – que es razonable suponer que el Barcelona es realmente muy bueno, porque él está en el equipo.

Cuotas justo, pero , aquí está la cosa , Messi no suele pasar el balón a sí mismo ( la mayoría del tiempo ) ; ) por lo que hay otros diez chicos que tocan la pelota.

Dicho esto, hay una serie de transferencias de la semana pasada por lo que algunos equipos están haciendo cola para tratar de conseguir más allá de Barcelona – Supongo que ya veremos cómo va. Por ahora, sin embargo , Barcelona está solo en la parte superior .

Si te gustan las estadísticas saber que después de la Semana 2 de la R2 para el Índice CPWP La Liga es ( 0,64 ) ; bastante bueno, no tan sólido como el R2 para el Índice CPWP MLS ( 0.80 ) pero no parecen tener relevancia para la tabla de la Liga sin incluir puntos por victorias o empates.

Antes de pasar al Índice PWP Atacar aquí es un tiro rápido a presión en el equipo que pasa a la precisión en la Liga después de dos semanas ; eso no es un error de cálculo matemático – Barcelona, ​​tiene un promedio de 90 % :

Si usted lee mi reciente artículo sobre la Bundesliga usted sabrá que la Precisión Pases average de la liga era 73.98 % , en la Major League Soccer se 77,10 % , en el EPL , es la friolera de 80,87 % , mientras que en la Liga es 77.59 % .

Si tuviera que acumular y apilar las ligas , dado Passing Precisión de ser un indicador de la parte superior de calidad, claramente el EPL tiene el mejor promedio (de arriba abajo ) de esas cuatro leguas .

Así que volviendo a la pregunta original – ¿quién va a quedarse con el Barcelona este año?

Yo esperaría Real Madrid para empezar – razón obvia que gastan un montón de dinero, pero es que hay un equipo que oculta en la maleza como el Atlético de Madrid hizo el año pasado ?

Para ser honesto , no tengo idea todavía , pero la consistencia de propósito es una buena cosa y por lo menos dos equipos han demostrado una buena forma , en comparación con la mayoría de los demás desde el principio ; Valencia y el Athletic Club.

Pero ya que todavía tienen que jugar el Barcelona o el Real Madrid es casi ” mera ” especulación.

Al analizar el Índice de APWP:

Valencia liderar este lado de la ecuación , pero como el fútbol APWP Major League , esto está sujeto a cambios en la medida más equipos van cabeza a cabeza con la otra.

Otra observación sobre este índice es que ésta es una mejor reflexión del oponente jugó contra – en otras palabras, hay equipos que ceden a propósito posesión – cuando eso ocurre estos números serán influenciados .

Por ejemplo , a través de la elección o no elección , el Villarreal tiene un promedio de sólo ~ 36 % de posesión con ~ 74 % de precisión que pasa mientras que el Real Madrid tiene un promedio de ~ 60 % de posesión con un 85 % pasando de precisión.

Los equipos que han jugado los equipos tendrán sus números de índice más influenciados , en algunas áreas , que equipos como el Sevilla o el Deportivo , que han promediado cerca de 50% de la posesión con cerca de 75 % de precisión pasajera.

Sin embargo se ve , forma temprana tiene tanto valor en donde obtuvo tres puntos como forma tardía hace; si un entrenador en jefe tiene su equipo de conmutación de la presión realmente no debería ser diferente.

Se Valencia, Deportivo y Celta seguir para permanecer cerca de la cima en APWP ? Es difícil de decir , pero ya veremos .

En la búsqueda de contrastes de principio de temporada , en ataque y defensa , el equipo con el mayor Dr. Jeykl y Mr. Hyde parece ser el Atlético de Madrid:

En equipo atacante , que son más bajos del Índice , en equipo que defiende que son tercero mejor …

Si tuviera que aventurar una respuesta que me imagino el Atlético de Madrid han conseguido el enfoque apropiado en equipo defensor – lo que van a necesitar para asegurar una posición más fuerte va a ser mejor equipo atacante .

Supongo que vamos a ver cómo madura que , además , esta temporada .

En el cierre :

Es pronto , pero está bastante claro la abrumadora cantidad de posesión, con una tasa extremadamente alta de pasar exactitud , mantendrá Barcelona, ​​en o cerca de la parte superior – siempre que puedan generar tiros y marcar goles ; difícil imaginar que no será dada la enorme cantidad de calidad …

Mis disculpas es el traductor de Google no ha reflejado con exactitud lo que yo escribí originalmente en Inglés – También he sido incapaz de incluir enlaces en este artículo a los artículos anteriores escritos .

Si hay otro artículo que he escrito que desea ver publicada en español por favor hágamelo saber y voy a hacer mi mejor esfuerzo para satisfacer sus.

Todo por ahora , mejor , Chris

COPYRIGHT – Todos los derechos reservados . PWP – Marcas .

Major League Soccer – Week 25 – Portland finally show up…

While most were probably focused on some other battles this past weekend – and rightly so in some cases – the Timbers might just have shaken the Western Conference a wee bit to reinforce, that when they get their defense right, they will be a team to reckon with.

Before diving in though; here’s a link to my pre-match thoughts on all the games this weekend; some thoughts are smack on – while some are way off target; so it goes.

Back to the Timbers.

I don’t offer this lightly, for almost 80% of this season the Timbers defense has been downright deplorable (just three clean sheets) last year they had 10 clean sheets after 25 games.

Only now – with a major shakeup in the back-four, after that resounding Sounders smack-down, have the Timbers acknowledged that defense is first and played like it!

The star of the match, and I don’t do this often since team is always first, was a young lad by the name of Alvas Powell – here’s a great picture of him post game with the ever present, and highly entertaining Pa Madou Kah, in the background – picture courtesy of Little Imp (@stretchiegirl)

So before digging into some specific statistics about the Timbers here’s a link to my post-match article, about that game, and then the Composite PWP Strategic Index for Major League Soccer after 25 weeks:

CPWP INDEX MLS AS OF WEEK 25To begin, for the statistical types, the relationship and correlation of this Strategic Index to Points in the League Table (R2) is .80; pretty good.

One other technical detail that’s probably new for many – the yellow stars indicate which teams have already sacked their manager this year.

I’ll offer up a reminder a bit later on all the stars present at the end of last year.

And if you are interested in some details about why Toronto FC sacked Ryan Nelson – I’ve included this article published by for your reading pleasure.  

To summarize, based upon what I took away from the article, Ryan Nelson was sacked due to poor team performance.  I’m not sure what that means to the Toronto front office but it’s meaning (could?) be intuited based upon this Index.  I’ll leave that for others to decide.

So now on to overall team performance:

LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, and Sporting KC continue to lead the overall CPWP Index – others moving up or staying put in the top half include Columbus, DC United, Portland Timbers, FC Dallas, New England, Real Salt Lake; while New York, Colorado, and Vancouver took slight dips this week.

On the outside, looking in, the list is much shorter.  Of note to me, is that only two of those teams performing on the trailing end are Western Conference teams.

Can some conclusions be drawn from that?  Perhaps – but I’ll save those thoughts for when the season is completed.

Attacking PWP Strategic Index:  


For the statistical types; the R2 between the APWP Strategic Index and Points in the League Table is .74 – that’s also pretty good.

Leading the league are the LA Galaxy (no surprise I’d expect).  On the tail end there’s Chivas and the ever shocking Dynamo, especially for some, after beating Sporting KC this weekend.  Somehow I don’t think Houston is entirely out of the Playoff picture.

With respect to Portland they are sixth best in possession percentage, passing accuracy within the final third, and goals scored per shots on goal – pretty consistent in three critical attacking indicators.

With regards to overall passing accuracy they are in the top ten at 8th best.  When converting possession to penetration they are also 8th best – and in shots on goal per shots taken they are 7th best.

In looking at shots taken, per penetrating possession, (a percentage number usually better when lower than higher to infer patience) they are 11th best.

So all told, in attack, they are very consistent, and good, compared to others.

Their downfall has come in Defending PWP – here’s how the teams stack in that Strategic Index after Week 25:


For the statistical folks the DPWP Strategic Index R2 is -.66 – again pretty good but there is a tricky quirk about defending.

There remains a challenge in measuring what doesn’t happen (for the attacking team) based upon how the defense plays.

In other words some positional activities that the defense executes are never measured – what gets measured are actual events as opposed to non-events; i.e tackles, interceptions, clearances, etc…

One of my recent articles was published with the intent to push professional soccer statistical companies to begin tracking and differentiating between Open Passes and Hindered Passes, as well as Open Shots and Hindered Shots, to help measure what doesn’t happen.


“Well an attacking player decides he can’t make a pass to a player in a forward position because the defender has the passing lane closed (hindered) – so the attacker passes elsewhere (an open pass that is unopposed).

In counting the number of Open Passes versus Hindered Passes statistical types can begin to plot maps on what areas the defense is inclined to leave open (cede) versus what areas they are inclined to hinder (defend against).

When graphing those Open Passes versus Hindered Passes you can now infer (statistically measure) what doesn’t happen; i.e the ball is “not being passed successfully here”…

Put another way – if a player has the ability to make an Open Cross – that is completed.  What didn’t happen is the fullback didn’t close on the winger and the center-back didn’t clear the ball.

If the Cross was a hindered cross then the value of defending can be determined even more.  If it was a Hindered Pass that results in a shot taken then the fullback was not positioned properly to block the cross – nor was the center-back positioned correctly to clear the cross…  Again – a statistical measurement of what doesn’t happen…

As a Youth Head Coach that type of information would be extremely critical to know when developing training plans between games…  in considering how much money is involved at the professional level I would have thought the value would be even greater.   Perhaps others may have a different view on that?

I’m not sure how clear that is but I’ll try to provide a few more examples as time passes… for now my early thoughts also include differentiating between an Open Throw-In and Open Cross versus Hindered Throw-In and Hindered Cross.”

Moving on…

In looking specifically at the Portland Timbers this year – they 10th (mid-table) in the DPWP Strategic Index – not bad by all accounts.

In peeling back the Defending Indicators they are 4th best in limiting their opponents passing accuracy (75.73%); they are 6th worst in preventing their opponents from completing passes in their defending final third (66.75%).

In terms of Possession percentage; teams average 47.38% – 6th lowest in MLS.

When looking at opponent shots taken per penetrating possession it’s 8th worst (18.85%)- and the percentage of opponents shots taken being on goal is 9th worst (36.72%).

Most critical (the weakest link it appears) is that the percentage of opponent possession leading to penetration is 26.48% (the worst in MLS).  What this means is that over 25% of the time that the opponent has the ball they penetrate the Timbers final third…  All told the final indicator (goals scored per game) is 3rd worst (1.65).

So how about the game against Vancouver?

  • Vancouver had 45.57% possession – lower than the Timbers average.
  • Vancouver passing accuracy across the entire pitch was 82% – higher than the Timbers average.
  • Vancouver had 73% passing accuracy within the Timbers final third – higher than the Timbers average.
  • Vancouver had 28.49% of their overall possession result in penetrating the Timbers final third – higher than the Timbers average.
  • Vancouver had 10.27% of their shots taken per penetrating possession – lower than the Timbers average.
  • Vancouver had 33.33% of their shots taken being shot on goal – lower than the Timbers average.
  • Vancouver had 0% of their shots on goal result in a goal scored – lower than the Timbers average.

In conclusion:  Here’s what happened in simple terms.  

Portland ceded some space outside and slightly higher, within their defending third, in order to minimize the time and space Vancouver had in having their shots taken end up in the back of the net.

So while Portland didn’t park the bus they did get behind the ball, as much as possible, in an attempt to minimize risk… not rocket science – just good defensive team management.

In Closing:

Every game, for almost every team, is a ‘must win’ at this stage of the season – the ironic thing is that phrase has really been an accurate phrase for every game this season.

The earlier you consistently win games the less ‘must-ful’ they become as the season ends.

The exceptions to this, at this time, are probably Chivas USA and Montreal Impact.

Neither have a credible chance of making the playoffs – so those early season and mid-season games they lost were really their MUST win games – and of course, they didn’t win them.

As promised a reminder on coaching changes from last year; here’s the End of Season CPWP Strategic Index showing all the teams (stars) that had changes in Head Coaches during or after the season:

 End of Season 2013 CPWP Strategic Index

Note that five out of the six worst teams in PWP team performance saw coaching changes – and seven out of the bottom ten.  Will we see that sort of house-cleaning again this year?

Best, Chris

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