Using PWP as a Youth Coaching Tool

Since the inception of Possession with Purpose one of my goals was to try and develop a strategic set of indicators that can be used to assess team performance in both attacking and defending.  

The idea that it would garner the global interest that it has is unexpected – since publication the approach has been presented at the 2014 World Conference on Science and Soccer and the accompanying academic paper is scheduled for publication later this year through Routledge.  Needless to say I’m pretty ‘chuffed’ with those results.

But here’s the thing – I didn’t create my analytical approach for publication, I created it to be used by those who teach/coach the game of soccer to our youth.

Bottom line for me is an approach like this is intended to reinforce two things – 1) soccer is more than a sport it’s a passion, and 2) there really is more to this team sport than simply scoring goals.  And our youth will never – ever – get better if all they think about is being the one player who scores the goal!

So where am I going with this?

Over the course of the last three years I’ve been approached by three different youth organizations, or coaches who coach youth soccer.  In those discussions the coaches wanted to take my approach and apply it to their team.  Needless to say I was interested in how those efforts took place and offered that I would publish an article, at their behest, to document their observations (un-edited) on the approach and how they gained value from the approach.

So that said, Mr. Carr has provided me this feedback for your consideration.  What follows below is a direct quote from his document he sent me today:

I’d been keeping rudimentary statistics for my son’s club teams since his last season of U9 Academy. At first it was something I did because of my interest in sports statistics, and it kept me occupied during games instead of getting too engrossed in the game like some parents get.

But the stats I was collecting weren’t telling me anything other than what was obvious: goals, shots, etc. Then I read Chris’ Possession With Purpose, specifically in his blog post, “Getting Better as a Youth Soccer Coach”. In my son’s second U10 season I began to track events in the game as stated in that article and was able to not only track more events during games, but was able to identify trends in our own team as well as the opponent for future reference.

​I track each game live (no video review) so I may miss an event here or there, but it doesn’t really affect the overall trends. I share each game’s stats with the coach after each weekend, and also when I identify any trends that he might find useful in what he instructs. He loves the information and builds elements of it into his training plans.

For example, when I first started tracking I noticed we were letting too many pass completions in our defending third and he worked more on defensive positioning, anticipating passes and closing down defenders to some good results. He can also see how the stats correspond to what he observes during the game.

We don’t share the information with players because they’re too young to really grasp it yet, and he feels it interferes with them focusing on the important items of individual player development (touches, foot skills, patterns of play, etc.) For older youth players it may have more value to the players themselves. We mainly use it to identify points to work on and to establish a general style of the opponents we play for future reference.

It hasn’t been shared outside of our team yet because I wanted to get enough data first to see how it worked with our team.​ I do share with a couple of parents on our team who are stat junkies like me and they like what it shows. Sometimes it tells a story that contradicts what they saw at the game themselves. The great thing about PWP is that it’s team based — even though I track individual stats they aren’t the focus; it’s the team stats and trends that reveal the most about each game and season.

What I’ve been able to determine from our team over roughly 30 games is that total possession and passing accuracy don’t mean as much as you’d think in terms of determining a win versus a loss. For our team it’s final third penetration (pass attempts and completions in that third) as well as limiting too much possession in your own third. If your final third penetration (number of pass completions in final third divided by total pass completions) is 20% or above, you have a really good chance of getting a result in the game.

The former stats are important, as in you’d rather possess than not, but it’s not the tell-all stat that most think of when they watch halftime stats on TV. My son’s team has moved from a season of 6v6 at U10 to 8v8 at U11, but the overall trends are basically the same, even with the addition of two players on the field and larger field dimensions.

In closing:

I’m hopeful that others will take the thoughts offered, and analytical approach used through Possession with Purpose, and build from it.

And while some may think the outputs stemming from Possession with Purpose can’t be used, at the very highest level of domestic soccer in the United States, be advised – it’s not true.

Best, Chris

You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp

I also co-host the YellowcardedPod as well as the Rose City Soccer Show, and appear, monthly, on Soccer City PDX, the local Comcast Sports Northwest TV show covering the Portland Timbers.




Major League Soccer – Can it truly reach the heights of top European Leagues by 2025?

What prompted this piece was the recent article published on Soccer By Ives about Don Garber’s vision for MLS by 2025 :

It’s a good article and worth the read.


Editorial – In a follow up to this article (below) Stephen Brandt and I, on Yellowcardedpod, interview Brian Dunseth and Thomas Rongen on some of these topics:–mls2025

Before digging into some of my thoughts/questions on what else might be a part of this 2025 vision I’ll first ask this question – does MLS “need” to attain that level?  Mull that one over as I offer this caveat prior to digging in a bit deeper…

My thoughts offered are not intended to reflect that I don’t follow the league, support the league, or wish the business model of the league to fail. – I like (no) I love soccer – it’s been a passion of mine since the early 90’s and I continue to think and feel it is the greatest individualized-team sport in the World!

In no particular order some topics I think are worthy of consideration as MLS looks to develop/implement reach their 2025 vision:

Unbalanced League Schedule:

Probably the single worst aspect of the current system is an unbalanced league schedule where some teams you play once a year, some teams you play twice a year, and some teams you play three times a year….

I get it – at least for now – but it seems reasonable to me that the vision of 2025 needs to include a ways and means to create a more balanced schedule.

And I find it very doubtful that a schedule looking similar to how things appear today will convince others, outside this country, that MLS is a premier league.

League and Conference Size:

I think most would agree that the league will continue to grow – the question remains on what is the ideal stopping point of expansion?

If MLS wants to compete against the likes of La Liga, Serie A, EPL, and Bundesliga I would offer the stop point is 36 to 40 teams with two distinct conferences of 18 to 20 teams each.

This not only facilitates a balanced league schedule it also facilitates the league taking on the best of the single-table model those other leagues use; while also taking what I sense is a great attribute of American sports – the Playoff system.

There is a down side to this in that it may eliminate teams like New York City visiting Portland during the regular season – or other big cross-country games – but with every strength there is a weakness.

A possible end-run on that weakness is to open up the US Open Cup and eliminate ‘geographical area’ match-ups?  And in the current conditions the US Open Cup is not ready for prime-time TV coverage – if eliminating geographical match-ups in the early stages of the US Open Cup occurs those matches might have greater value to the overall soccer TV audience…

However viewed, having a single table for each conference with a playoff scenario at the end of the season does set up MLS to get the best of both soccer worlds – and it might even convince those across the pond to set up a playoff system too?

Expansion – specifically the Expansion Draft:

I get it – the reality, at least at this time, seems reasonable to allow for an Expansion Draft but seriously, is it reasonable to continue penalizing strong organizations – who build depth for the ever-competitive season – by asking them to potentially sacrifice good players they’ve already invested time and money in only to see them disappear just when they begin to reach their potential?

My view is no – the sooner the Expansion Draft is stopped, in MLS, the sooner the league goes on record to reaffirm that if you are going to be a part of the “premier” league in America you need to have already developed an organization from within that will help you sustain that ‘permanent promotion’ to MLS.

Of course – when MLS reaches that final team number the Expansion Draft is toast anyway – so perhaps this potential 2025 vision doesn’t matter?

Free Agency: Maybe the most contentious (now):

A question if you will – when is the last time you heard about a company like Boeing, who has plants in every state of the United States, prohibiting that employee from seeking a greater wage packet, with Boeing, elsewhere?

The current lack of an expanded free agency system in MLS really does hinder the ability of this league to attain a top league status across the rest of the world.

If MLS is expecting to be a great league in 2025 then a more flexible Free Agency system is most likely needed to sustain that vision.

MLS College Draft:

While I understand the goodness and intent behind the College Draft I remain unconvinced that the hype and expectation of a player moving from college to the professional ranks is really a high-value proposition if MLS is to attain status as a top league across the world.

There are other angles to consider to include 1) NASL has no draft, 2) to who really ‘owns the player’ and 3) what rights the college player already has in other competitive leagues.

I figure it’d take a lawyer or two, like with Free Agency, to work out all those details – especially since the ‘college draft’ is a primary mechanism for other American Professional Sports to improve their organizations.

I’m not going to bet on this but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the glamour of the MLS College Draft decrease – especially if MLS is intent on being a top flight league across the world.

On the other hand, if the NCAA pulled their head out their arse and looked to attain full status as an Amateur League within the US Soccer system then a whole new vision could open up where the likes of Ohio State, and other Colleges could find themselves competing in the US Open Cup – now what sort of atmosphere might that create where a College Team finds themselves playing a Professional Team in a College Stadium that holds 100,000 supporters — for me that sort of atmosphere would be monumental – never-mind the financial and media interest it may draw from the commercial world of the United States!

The question, for me, then becomes – what is the vision of the NCAA for soccer in 2025?

Taking a greater leadership role in the development of Soccer in the United States (College Soccer continues to play ‘outside the lines’ of US Soccer and FIFA regulations):

While some College Head Coaches may disagree, from any number of reasons, those that I’ve interviewed seem to agree that – for the most part – the game of soccer played in college is not the same style, or of the same tactical nous, of professional soccer.

Count down clocks and substitution policies – along with Referees that are not FIFA qualified – place young, impressionable players – at the prime age of skill development, in an environment that comes no where close to matching the type of soccer environment they’ll potentially encounter in the professional ranks.

And if college is supposed to provide a ‘learning environment’ isn’t it reasonable that that learning environment match, as closely as possible, the environment those same players will need to operate in as professionals?

To put this into perspective – there are roughly 1100 organized NCAA teams – meaning there’s roughly (20 X 1100) 22,000 players looking to hone their skills in an environment that doesn’t match professional soccer.

In addition, if growing Professional Referees is an objective then if there are 1100 teams that equates to roughly 550 crews of one Referee and 2 Linespeople also adjudicating games under rules different to those of FIFA.

Last but not least – Coaching staff – if MLS is to be truly competitive isn’t reasonable to expect that there also needs to be a pipeline for Coaches. With 1100 teams that’s 1100 Head Coaches and probably 2200 to 3300 Assistant Coaches all learning to manage a game that has little comparison to the types of tactics they’ll encounter when managing a professional side.

With all that said I remain unconvinced MLS will attain this lofty status when the single largest pool of Players, Referees, and Coaches, in the United States, plays outside the FIFA governing rules of soccer.

Professional Referee’s: 

This topic is probably a topic for every league in the World but if memory serves MLS has yet to completely close the loop on mandating that all Professional Referee’s be full-time for every league match.

Some opinions may vary on this but I do sense it is reasonable to believe that the level of adjudicating MLS matches, by full-time Professional Referee’s in this country, will be better in 2025 compared to now.

Perhaps we might even see FIFA decide to have two primary Referee’s adjudicate a game, just like the National Hockey League?  That may be helpful, for not only MLS, but World Soccer as a whole.

Perhaps another 2025 vision includes better use of video technology in support of Referees?

NASL – Where and how it fits – and if not what happens to those organizations:

There’s no question NASL run a competitive league but the money invested isn’t really on par with what teams leverage in MLS.

If it did then the business model that would best match and create a true environment like that of Europe – would be NASL’s.

So part of the MLS vision should probably consider two different possibilities.

1) Either NASL begins to fade away or 2) NASL merges with USL

Here’s the thing though – if soccer continues to grow in popularity for this country there is a risk to MLS that NASL could surpass MLS in league attendance given an influx of new owners that prefer the European Model of competition – the more you invest, the more likely you are to earn more, which in-turn means more attendance and media coverage, which in-turn drives a larger income, and so on….

Conversely – if MLS and USL are linked then it would seem reasonable, that in order to further strengthen a ‘lower league’, MLS needs to see USL merge with and absorb NASL – with ‘MLS Team 2 teams’ in USL getting relegated to a league division 3 status.

I wonder if that sort of consideration has been given as MLS looks towards a vision of 2025 – especially when looking at European leagues there are no ‘team 2 teams’ that can ever have an opportunity to directly compete against a ‘team 1 team’ – and as things stand today it is possible, not probable, but possible that LA Galaxy 2 could end up competing against LA Galaxy 1 in a US Open Cup Final – now what sort of bollocks would that be?

Before closing on this topic – a thought or two on mergers.  If you recall the AFL and NFL merged to create a new NFL.  The ABA and NBA merged to create a new NBA.  The World Hockey League and National Hockey League merged to create a new NHL.  And the American League and National League eventually tied the knot to create inner league play where both leagues still operate under slightly different rules.

Is it too far fetched to imagine, that by 2025, there will be MLS and then leagues operating directly below MLS where the business conditions are the same?  However viewed I believe a reasonable vision of MLS (and) US Soccer, in 2025, sees greater clarity on where NASL fits into the mix.

The business model of MLS (in America) compared to the business model (in Europe):

It’s ironic really – the business model of Europe sees a socialistic society operating a capitalistic business model (survival of the fittest) while a capitatlistic society (in America) operates a socialistic business model.

If you don’t follow I’ll put it this way – no team, in any top league across the World, is ever guaranteed the right to play in their countries highest level soccer league – they must prove, year in and year out that they are good enough to stay in their top league.

Whereas here, in America, if you join the MLS franchise you are always guaranteed (provided you are somewhat financially savvy) to always have a team in MLS.

Now some may offer this is a bit brutal but I think it is worth noting the word “entitled”; teams in Europe are not entitled to anything – just ask Leeds or Glasgow…

But anyway – I kind of digress here because the intent of using the word ‘entitled’ isn’t really about MLS it’s more about the overall tenor of youth soccer in this country.  Americans should never forget that the game of soccer is/and always has been, in other countries of the world, a game for the working class.

When parents are required to spend money, sometimes greater than $3000 per year, to support their child’s development in soccer they feel that their child is ‘entitled’ to play.

So while MLS may have a vision of top-flight status by 2025 I really believe that status will never be attained as long as the youth learning this game think they are entitled to play if they pay…  and with College Soccer facilitating that entitlement to play through their obtuse substitution rules that entitlement is reinforced!

In closing:

I’d offer there are a number of issues that may??? impact a ‘top-world-league’ vision for MLS 2025.

With some European teams operating on a budget the size of the US Department of Defense (just kidding) is it really reasonable to expect that an MLS franchise, with a salary cap, is going to be able to attract the worlds greatest footballers, in their prime, to the United States?

I’m not so sure. 

In case you missed it – Raheem Sterling was just sold to Manchester City for 49 Million Pounds – I think the purchase price for one player is greater than the team budget of most clubs in MLS…

Do we really expect a team, within the MLS Franchise business model, to pay 49 Million for one player?  Not likely…

So in going back to the first question.  Does MLS “need” to attain that level?

I don’t think so.

But I do think and feel there is value in seeing soccer attain top-flight status as a sport in America.

For me that means a vision where MLS is operating on an equal footing with Basketball and Football – the other Football…

As to the rest of the world I’m not sure it matters much to many folks – if we want to watch the EPL, the best league in the World, all we gotta do is turn on the TV and take it in.

Would I want to see a league table that mirrors the yearly expectations of the EPL here in America?


I admit I don’t like the parity concept from a personal standpoint as I’d like to see the Portland Timbers win every game – but it’s not realistic so I understand and get the business model.

And being a stats guy, who’s analyzed team performance in MLS, La Liga, Bundesliga, and the English Premier League, I pretty much like the greater chances the format offers than the usual (same old teams) we see finishing atop those other league tables.

Best, Chris

Portland Timbers, Major League Soccer and Europe’s Elite Leagues

This post was originally offered up on Stumptownfooty – the SB Nation blog site I write for when I cover the Portland Timbers – given there is up-to-date info in here about how some European Leagues finished (with respect to Possession with Purpose) I felt it worthy to re-post my article here for my overseas readers/followers.

We are 21 weeks into the season and parity thrives; or is it simply that poor play in possession and passing accuracy leading to parity while simply narrowing the focus of purpose to penetration pays?

Perhaps that’s a bit cynical, but when being a cynic I like to step back and take a look at the statistics.

This past year I measured team performance in three elite European Leagues; the English Premier League, Bundesliga, and La Liga.

What got measured were the following statistics, the outcome of which generates my Possession with Purpose Index. If you are new to PWP read here.

  1. Total Passes Attempted,
  2. Total Passes Completed,
  3. Total Passes Attempted into the Attacking Final Third,
  4. Total Passes Completed into the Attacking Final Third,
  5. Total Shots Taken,
  6. Total Shots on Goal, and
  7. Total Goals Scored

In all three leagues there was a clear pattern: the more of numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 resulted in more of numbers 5, 6, and 7. This held true for the UEFA Champions League as well as the 2014 World Cup too.

The bottom line is that more means more in those elite leagues measured.

So, with great frustration I wonder what exactly is going on with the Timbers.

What held true in Europe for 2015 held true in the 2013 Major League Soccer season; but in the 2014 and 2015 seasons it does not.

The common sense results we expect to see given a possession-based team with top flight passing accuracy simply are not there in Major League Soccer.

So, is that a bad thing?

Those who have set up the league to create more parity should be slapping each other on the back; teams with poor passing accuracy but a few standouts (be them physical speed demons or real, high quality soccer players) are taking the points.

If you are not convinced, here’s the hard data:


The important bits are the Average Points versus the four digit numbers in the middle column: what that shows is a single number (Index) that represents the composite total of accuracy in the seven areas mentioned earlier.

Higher is better – lower is worse. Note that when looking at the final number (the R), the relationship of the two columns for La Liga, Bundesliga, and EPL all hover at or near 94% – meaning teams that are more accurate, in everything they do, across the entire pitch, are better and earn more points per game than teams that aren’t accurate.

So, in looking at MLS (the red shaded zone) it’s pretty clear that accuracy, across the entire pitch, in the major activities of a game does not drive points earned.

In other words, the cynical side of me offers that less is better; this is what the statistical output looks like for a league with parity.  Or mud in the eye for those who expect common sense, as witnessed in our favorite leagues overseas, does not apply in MLS.

What does this mean for the Portland Timbers?

To date, the Timbers are 7th best in overall possession (51.47%); 4th highest in overall passing accuracy (79.23%); 8th best in penetration per possession (25.27%); 4th best in passing accuracy within and into the Attacking Final Third (64.50%); and 7th best in overall shots per penetrating possession (18.18%).

Where issues remain are shots on goal per shots taken (6th worst at 33.94%) and goals scored per shots on goal (4th worst at 25.86%).

To correct those finishing issues the Timbers have purchased Lucas Melano; we can’t argue that the Timbers haven’t taken at least one step to improve their team during the transfer market.

They have.  What remains is more patience; then we might actually see some pedigree-type possession with purpose from Portland.

In Closing:

In case you missed it here’s a link to our latest Rose City Soccer Show where Kip, Will, Dan and myself share some thoughts on the season so far.  Be sure to look for our next show to release sometime Thursday evening.

Best, Chris

Possession with Purpose – Prozone – and more…

No detailed statistics today – just a narrative to pass on a few tidbits as I prepare my End of Season analysis for Europe.

The news:

The European Season is ending.

  • There’s the winners, the losers, and those that stay afloat to live another year.
  • I’ll peel back the results on the English Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, and UEFA Champions League in the next few weeks.
  • For now, in La Liga the PWP Composite Index has a .94 correlation coefficient (r) to points earned in the league table; the Bundesliga sits at .92, the English Premier League sits at .94, while the UEFA Champions League sits at .87.
  • All incredibly strong and far stronger than MLS (.61) this year; last year MLS finished at .87.
  • Speaking of MLS, does a league, where winners display more characteristics of counterattacking, versus just possession-based attacking, detract from predictability?
  • In other words does the lower correlation support a League’s ability to achieve “parity” in professional soccer?
  • If so, is that style/type of football attractive enough to continue to grow footy in the States?
  • If not – does that mean the business model currently set up in the States won’t ever achieve a league “status” that matches the “prestige” most seem to attach to the top leagues in Europe?
  • More to follow…

I think these two video presentations by Hector Ruiz and Paul Power, from Prozone, are worth listening to.

  • In this video (tactical profiling) Hector, who attended my presentation at the World Conference on Science and Soccer last year, talks about his latest efforts that include breaking down the different types of possession in a much greater detail than I ever could with public data.
  • Of note is Hector substantiates my finding that a Head Coach’s tactical approach can be differentiated through tracking possession (passing characteristics) on the pitch.
  • He also helps begin to solve the riddle on measuring which players perform better or worse given those different styles of possession.
  • A soap-box, for me, when looking at my article on ‘Moneyball relative to soccer’, is the inability of modern day soccer statistics to show real value on how well teammates actually influence an individual’s success or failure on the pitch relative to how the team actually plays (what style it works to).
  • Here’s a direct lift from my article referenced above…

Modern day soccer statistics, for the most part, don’t measure the appropriate level of influence teammates, opposing players, and Head Coaching tactics – as such when I say I’m not a Moneyball guy when it comes to soccer it really means I don’t buy all that crap about tackles, clearances, goals scored, etc…

I value players relative to team outputs and I strongly feel and think the more media and supporters who understand this about soccer the less frustration they will (have) in blaming or praising one individual player over another player.

  • In the next video (game intelligence) Paul takes a similar approach in analyzing team behavior like PWP – separating out defensive characteristics from attacking characteristics while also modeling a ‘defensive press’ that measures success or failure in passing based upon whether or not a defender is hindering the attacker.
  • This topic has been one that I have also touched on last year – here’s a direct quote from my article on Hurried Passes.

So what is missing from the generic soccer statistical community to account for the void in Unsuccessful Passes?  Is it another statistic like Tackles Won, Duals Won, Blocked Shots, or Recoveries?

I don’t think so – none of them generated a marked increase in the overall correlation of those three activities already identified.  I think (it) is the physical and spatial pressure applied by the defenders as they work man to man and zone defending efforts.

  • Likewise, Paul also touches on ‘passing vision’ (in my words it’s not the innate vision many of us think of for players) – it’s more a discussion and analyses (I think) on the ‘windows of passing lanes’ available to players and whether or not they have tendencies to play riskier passes versus safer passes in relation to what the defenders are doing.
  • For me this simply means Paul has taken the same defensive pressure data and flipped it to view the success or failure of a player to find another player to pass to or create a shot given the defensive pressure (lanes/vision) that are blocked or open.
  • In simplistic teams (with new event statistics) you can capture and intuit that success or failure by filtering passes as being ‘open or hindered’ and also apply that same filter to create ‘open or hindered’ shots.  My article on this approach was also published some time ago – New Statistics in Soccer (Open Pass and Open Shot)
  • Finally, Paul also speaks to a game of soccer resembling the behavior of a school of fish; I’m not sure I’m convinced that is the best analogy – especially when he talks about under-loading and overloading, but his view does closely resemble mine where the game of soccer perhaps is best represented by a single-cell Amoeba.

All told – two well crafted presentations that begin to open up and really reinforce some of my soap-box issues with soccer statistics since starting my research three years ago.

To be redundant – soccer is not just about scoring goals – there is more to the game than goals scored; these two presentations continue to support my view that the world of soccer statistics needs to continuously get better…

My back-yard / stubby pencil approach to team performance analysis is soon to be published through Rand.

  • I want to express my sincere thanks to Terry Favero – my Co-Author – who helped me navigate the challenging waters of writing an Academic Paper.
  • Terry added considerable value, as well, in researching other works to help set the stage on the differences of PWP versus other efforts developed and published across the globe.
  • Finally, Terry provided superb editorial support – a challenge in that the writing styles one normally sees in a blog are completely unacceptable when writing an Academic Paper.
  • Great fun and the first of at least two to three more.

Last but not least, the Women’s World Cup is beginning.

  • Last year I applied the principles of PWP to the Men’s World Cup – with good order.
  • I’ll refresh everyone on how that took shape and then begin to chart how PWP takes shape for the Women’s World Cup.
  • I wonder what, if any, differences will show in comparing the women’s game to the men’s game?
  • Will the data show the same trends in quality and quantity?
  • Or will we see a reduction in quantity that may end up driving an increase in quality?
  • More to follow.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT – All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

UEFA Champions League – Who moves on Barcelona, Bayern, Madrid, or Juventus?

I’ve been a bit busy lately so apologies for not offering up any research on Possession with Purpose; lots going on with it at the moment while all five competitions I measure are still going at full speed.

To catch up, using a picture first, here’s a look at how PWP compares to Total Shots Ratio as well as Goal Differential when viewing the UEFA Champions League:

PWP v TSR v GDNote that I’ve highlighted – in green – where the top 4 teams (FC Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus) fit into each of the correponding Indices (if you will).

As an added Index I’ve also included the PWP Predictability Index (an Index that EXCLUDES goals scored (for or against) in the overall calculations.  A reminder that from a pure predictability standpoint the Predictability Index remains the only Index that excludes goals scored when developing a prediction as to whether a team might earn points.

For the benefit of all I’ve also included how things take shape when teams play at home versus away from home; there are differences.

So what does this mean?

PWP, even in a format different than general league play shows better than TSR as it is known today (i.e not modernized).

While Goal Differential shows well with respect to the overall correlation coefficient (r) to average points earned it doesn’t show best when racking and stacking it as an Index compared to PWP —> when viewing how it ranks teams versus how well they have progressed into the final stages.

What I found intriguing was that the PWP Predictability Index (which excludes goals scored) actually racked and stacked the top 4 teams in the UEFA Champions League better than Goal Differential.

If you’re someone who likes to bet on games early indications show PWP Predictability (excluding goals scored) has FC Bayern ahead of Barcelona and Real Madrid ahead of Juventus.

Of course Arjen Robben has been injured, and given his considerable influence with FC Bayern Munich that predictability model pretty much goes out the door – or does it?

I’d say yes, because when adding goals scored (the PWP Index) Barcelona leap-frogs past FC Bayern; meaning it is highly likely we see Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Finals…. but you decide.

In Closing:

Awhile ago I wrote that FIFA needed to change how they rank teams across the World.

I remain stubbornly steadfast and steadfastly stubborn that the outputs from both the UEFA Champions League and World Cup PWP Indices lend credibility to the suggestion that FIFA revisit protocols on how they seed teams in their various competitions.

Best, Chris


Control or Lack Thereof – MLS 2015

I originally posted this article on Stumptownfooty – an SB Nation blog site where I cover the Portland Timbers…

For over two years I’ve been researching team and league statistics to help paint a picture and perhaps? better explain what is happening on the pitch relative to points earned in a league table.  For the most part every competition measured, MLS 2014, English Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, and the UEFA Champions League have all shown a pattern of consistency.

This pattern isn’t relative to individual teams that win or lose (earn points) it’s relative to the behavior of the league/competition as a whole.

To give you an idea of what I mean here’s a diagram on how each of the six data statistics I track in Attacking Possession with Purpose correlate to points earned for all the teams in those leagues.


By correlate (statistically speaking) it’s the correlation coefficient between each data point and points earned – for those using statistics that is called “r”.

The other technical point here is that the average percentage for each of these statistics doesn’t matter – they are different – but even when they are different their overall relationship (correlation) to points earned is very-very close…

Said differently — there is a consistent pattern of league behavior relative to all leagues measured for team attacking.

What’s kinda cool (for me) is the pattern of information shows up as a bird – with the brains (head) of the bird located in the center (v). And that center (v) in soccer usually represents where the asset of vision comes into play; the better the completed pass into a danger area (attacking final third) the more likely it is to create a shot taken that has a better chance of resulting in a goal scored.

Here’s a look at the same diagram with the MLS 2015 information (red line) and the Portland Timbers information (green line) in comparison to the other leagues:


No “Birds” here…

In looking at MLS 2015 (red line) Possession Percentage – there is virtually zero corrleation to points earned – meaning it simply doesn’t matter how much possession (control) you have in a game in MLS.

This isn’t true for Portland however, with Possession Percentage (green line) hovering around -.50 this means the less possession Portland has the more likely they are to earn points – said another way – the more direct the play (this year) the better the odds they take points.

Last year that number was .10 – in 2013 that number was .02.

A takeaway here, on the Timbers, is that they were able to take points in 2013 given any level of possession percentage. In 2014 their tendency was to earn points (more frequently) when having greater possession. This year it’s not only the opposite (so far) it’s actually the opposite by quite a large margin.

Some might say that means the tactical approach for the Timbers is far easier to predict this year than the two previous years….

A few other thoughts about the two diagrams…

When considering Passing Accuracy and Goals Scored versus Shots on Goal – for MLS (red line) that correlation is a bit lower than either the Timbers or the other leagues… for me that means the value of scoring a goal this year carries far less weight than other leagues or even MLS for 2014.

Said a different way – perhaps more goals are being scored this year as a result of individual mistakes instead of controlled, well placed, passes that create more effective shots that finish in the back of the net?

Even more apparent is the far lower difference between MLS 2015, and the others, for Shots on Goal per Shots Taken… in other words there is virtually NO correlation on how accurate a team is in having their shots taken wind up as shots on goal.

In Closing:


The latest Composite PWP Index for MLS through Week 6.

What’s it mean?

For now, it appears that MLS 2015 is nowhere near the general level of consistency it showed in 2013 or 2014. And the league itself, is also far different from those measured in Europe.

While some may disagree I’d almost be willing to offer that it’s a complete crap-shoot on which teams win this year…

As a Timbers supporter I suppose that means at any given time, from any given angle, the Timbers could either get a goal or concede a goal… regardless of how good or bad their passing or penetration is…

If I were a Head Coach this bit of info might??? be interpretted a few different ways….

Either it doesn’t matter how much you plan, mistakes are going to happen and it’s anybody’s guess who makes those mistakes and when… or,

When the lads take to the pitch make sure you get the ball as far forward, as quickly as possible, so that when a mistake occurs it is more likely to occur outside your own defending final third, or

It doesn’t matter how much is spent on players – as long as we get guys who can strike the ball, in open space, (regardless of how it got there) we have a great shot at winning the game…

Enjoy the rollercoaster ride this year – I know I will!

Best, Chris

Passing – More from Less – Barcley’s Premier League

In updating my Expected Wins series I thought I’d go back and take a look at what teams are performing the best (under the average) when it comes to some of the categories of Possession with Purpose.

For starters, this week, let’s look at Passing Volume; the league average is 433.75 Total Passes per game; when not reaching the league average there have been 98 wins, 91 draws, and 133 losses.

That’s 98 wins from 223 total wins so far this season – representing roughly 44% of all the wins in the Barcley’s Premier League this year.

With respect to draws that’s 91 out of 155 draws so far this year – about 59% of all draws.

As far as losses go, 133 of 220 total losses have been by teams who have failed to exceed the league average in Total Passes per game… about 60%.

So here’s the breakdown on the total number of games a team has not exceeded the League Average in Total Passes of 433:

English Premier League Games under League PAssing Attempts Average

Here’s the data on which teams have the most wins when not exceeding the League Average in Total Passes Attempted:

English Premier League Wins under League Passing Attempts Average

Finally, here’s the data on what the percentage of points earned versus possible points earned where teams have not exceeded the League Average in Total Passes Attempted:

English Premier League PCT Points Earned versus Possible Points under League Passing Attempts Average

A few observations and then something intriguing – juicy bits in my closing…

  • If you’ll notice there are two different colored bars – the blue bar and the light red bar.  The blue bar (in all three diagrams) represents teams that have not exceeded the League Average in Total Passes Attempted more than 66.67% of the time – in other words they’ve had less than 20 games where they’ve fallen below the League Average.
  • The light red bar is the obvious then… those teams that have had greater than 19 games where they’ve not exceeded the League Average in Total Passes Attempted.
  • Of all the light red bar teams the team with the best overall performance in getting more from less is Stoke City.  Yes they have fewer wins than some teams but when it comes to overall points earned based upon the general tendency of the club (heeding the basic fundamental style the Head Coach drives for).
  • Other teams doing well include West Ham and Newcastle.
  • The worst at getting more with less has been Leicester City followed pretty closely by QPR and then Burnley.
  • For those who don’t normally follow the philosophy of less gets you more we see Chelsea and Arsenal at the top and Aston Villa and Everton near the bottom.
  • Aston Villa has already had a coaching change and it’s likely Martinez gets sacked this year too…. why?
  • I think Martinez has set his team up to operate with a possession-based approach – and given their position in the League Standings they not only don’t execute a possession-based approach they also don’t appear to execute a counter-attacking/direct style approach either…  a grade D – if you will – for both styles of attacking.
  • Put in other words they either have the wrong players or they have the wrong coaching philosophy to match the players currently on their roster… for me the cheaper solution is to sack the coach – not buy a whole new bunch of players…

In Closing:

What has rocked me a wee bit, in this analysis, has been the correlation coefficient of this data analysis relative to the Possession with Purpose CPWP Index – the R for this list of teams, in order, is .84 when compared to the CPWP Index (excluding Man City who had zero games below the League Average).

Even more intriguing is that the Correlation Coefficient to the League Standings is .93 -> higher than the CPWP Index as a whole – again – the exclusion of Manchester City.

It should be noted when you include Man City those numbers drop to .38 and .56 respectively – but the intent here isn’t to consider this analysis as a replacement for CPWP but to show that when viewing outcomes resulting from data collected and analyzed as part of CPWP there is relevance to the League Table…

What’s that mean?

For me that means the CPWP Index is extremely strong (statistically) in racking and stacking teams who earn points without being a possession-based team — a technical knock that some have pointed against CPWP.

In addition, it also reinforces how much influence passing can have in how teams eventually find their place in a League Table.

It also shines a brighter light on teams who get more with less and less with less – perhaps a better indicator for Head Coaching changes than what the CPWP Index seems to support?

As noted in Expected Wins Five – more gets you more in the English Premier League but it appears the teams that can adjust to do less and still get more separate themselves a bit better in the overall League Table.

Perhaps this is why Arsenal finds themselves slightly further up the table than Southampton or Liverpool?

If I have time this weekend I’ll try to dig into the Bundesliga and La Liga…   for now it appears that those who get more from less have just as much influence, statistically, in how the League Table shows as those who get more from more…

Best, Chris

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Expected Wins Five – Europe

In my previous series on Expected Wins Four – probably more appropriately entitled “Expected Points” – I’d taken a look at how the general tendencies of four primary Leagues in Europe (England, Germany, Spain, as the UEFA Champions League) compare to Major League Soccer – Is European Football Really Higher Quality than Major League Soccer?

This time I’m focusing strictly on Europe and offering up how things stand in PWP with the season coming to a close soon.  But before digging some things to share about PWP to date:

A reminder – PWP is about two things:

  1. The End State in that the final Index comes as close as possible to the League Table without using points earned in any of the calculations, and
  2. Recognizing that soccer is a game that is played in a free flowing environment – picture two amoeba fighting against each other in a confined space…. There is attempted control by the Head Coach that includes tons of preparation to set the stage for ‘an approach’ to earn three points – and then there is the game itself where there is but one time out (halftime) – no namby pamby huddles or official stoppages of play between possessions.  Meaning these guys play a full-on, in your face (sometimes literally), non-stop, constantly thinking and reacting to the game that can literally see the ball go in any direction at any time… not purely random but close.

Given that, PWP attempts to tone down all that volatility and parse out general tendencies that fall within the bell curve of activities – it’s not perfect – but it’s bloody good… and yes – I have made a few mistakes along the way (if you don’t work you don’t make mistakes).  The latest has been a technical mistake – the relationship of CPWP to the League Table is not an R Squared number (Coefficient of Determination) it is an R number (Correlation Coefficient).

For the stats followers that may be an issue… but even with the Modernized TSR (read here) the CTSR “R” is still generally lower (team to team) and certainly lower (table to table) than CPWP – meaning there still remains room for both statistical analytical approaches in a gmae that is played across the world…

Also, my thanks to some great research by Rob Lowe, a mate with the same passion for footy, who has asked to collaborate with me in the future.  He has done some additional regression analysis on the data points of PWP with respect to goals scored and points earned.  I should point out that his results show that not all six of the data points in the PWP equation independently-directly relate to goals scored or points earned.  For me that is okay – and actually great news for a few reasons…

  1. Both of my two new statistics (Passes Completed in the Final Third per Passes Completed across the Entire Pitch – Step 3 of PWP) and (Shots Taken per Completed Pass within and into the Final Third – Step 5 of PWP) did statistically relate to Goals Scored and Points Earned (independently).  Meaning those new statistics are relevant – both within the context of PWP and outside the context of PWP.  It’s this statistical regression type information that should solidify these two new statistics in the world of soccer.
  2. For both Possession (Step 6 of PWP) and Passing Accuracy (Step 5 of PWP) – as you will see a bit later – those two derived data points were never supposed to directly (independently) relate to goals scored or points earned as a matter of course I have advocated for quite some time that they shouldn’t.  PWP was built with the intention that the six derived data points only needed to relate to each other in a stair step relationship recognizing that in every game a team needs to possess the ball, move the ball, penetrate the opponent’s final third, take shots based upon that penetration, put them on goal, and score goals – all while preventing the opponent from doing the same thing.
  3. Another view on the outcome that Rob has noted – it’s unreasonable to analyze a game of soccer without taking those activities into account.  Rob’s positive feedback was that both possession and passing accuracy act as a “smoothing agent” within the Index – I agree but with beginning to learn the nuance of writing an Academic Paper I would put it this way.
  4. Possession and Passing Accuracy stats have limitations when vewing overall regression analysis relative to goals scored and points earned – but those limitations actually give the overall analyst of soccer a much better understanding about the context of activities that occur when a team is performing better than another team.
  5. In addition, Passing Accuracy statistics provide a coach a great measurement tool for how well some players may develop and progress into higher levels of competition – to exclude data of this import really ignores some of the most fundamental training aspects a team needs to do in order to improve.
  6. Also, there is excessive volatility in the percentages associated with Shots on Goal versus Shots Taken and Goals Scored versus Shots on Goal – if I only look at those two things then evaluating a game is all about (pass-fail) – granted winning and losing is pass-fail.  But to develop a “winning culture” a grading system perhaps more appropriate is A-B-C-D-F – in other words there are levels of success above and beyond pass-fail – especially when you are a team that isn’t at the very top of the league.
  7. By having Possession and Passing Accuracy in the equation you get a much larger (explanatory) picture on the culture of success – and as things appear to take shape, the Index itself, gives better clarity to that level of success for teams that are mid-table as opposed to bottom dwellers or top performers…

Now for the grist in Europe – first up – England: 

Note that the first two diagrams (in each four diagram grouping) highlight where the highest quantity and highest quality occurs within each competition – after some growing pains (earlier Expected Wins measurements) all four competitions now see the teams that win having the highest averages, in all categories, for both quantity and quality… proving (for the most part) that more is better and more results in more…

Barcleys Premier League PWP Data PointsBarcleys Premier League PWP Derived Data PointsEnglish Premier League CPWP IndexEnglish Premier League CPWP Predictability Index

All told the correlation, at this time, remains very strong – note that the “R” has replaced the “R2” in my third and fourth diagrams.

If I remove Possession and Passing Accuracy from the CPWP Index – the R value drops to .78 – statistically reinforcing that the Index, itself, better represents the standings in the League Table by including Possession and Passing Accuracy data.  Proving yet, another way, that goals scored and shots taken simply do not provide adequate depth on what activities occur on a pitch relative to earning points in the League Table!  And if you’ve read Moderning TSR this doesn’t mean ATSR/DTSR or CTSR doesn’t have value – it does…

As things stand today Chelsea take the League and since Man City, Man United, and Arsenal round out the top four (different orders) in both CPWP and CPWP-PI I’d offer it’s those four that advance to the UEFA Champions League next year.  The bridesmaid looks to be a two horse race (Spurs supporters may argue that) between Liverpool and Southampton.

Note that Southampton edges Liverpool in CPWP but that Liverpool edges Southampton in CPWP-PI – meaning when excluding Goals Scored – Liverpool has better quality than Southampton – so for Liverpool it’s more about converting Shots on Goal to Goals Scored – while for Southampton it’s more about getting clean sheets and scoring at least one goal; at least in my view – others may see that differently?

In retracing the earlier discussion on the data within the six steps of PWP – as you can see in both the first and second Diagrams (for all competitions) the Exponential Curve (Diagram 1) and well as Power Curve (Diagram 2) the stair step relationship between the data – point to point – are incredibly high…  Even more intriguing is how close those “R2” numbers are for both winning, drawing, and losing… really driving home the point, in my view, just how small the margin of error is between winning, drawing, and losing.

For goals scored (for or against) we really are talking about 5 or 6 standard deviations to the right of the bell curve…


 Bundesliga PWP Data PointsBundesliga PWP Derived Data PointsGerman Premier League CPWP IndexGerman Premier League CPWP Predictability IndexPerhaps the most intriguing issue this year isn’t the FC Bayern story – it’s the lack of goal scoring in Borussia Dortmund – when viewing the CPWP Predictability Index clearly Dortmund is offering up all the necessary culture the team needs in order to succeed – with one exception – goal scoring…. wow!

Another surprise may be Wolfsburg I’d pick them, and Bayer Leverkusen to finish two-three in their League Table – both show pedigree in team performance both with and without considering goals scored…


La Liga Premier League PWP Data PointsLa Liga Premier League PWP Derived Data PointsSpanish Premier League CPWP IndexSpanish Premier League CPWP Predictability Index

Barcelona and Real Madrid are locked in for the top team battle – my edge goes to Barcelona.  I’d offer more here but I’m simply not up on the La Liga as much as I’d like to be…

UEFA Champions League:

UEFA Champions League PWP Data PointsUEFA Champions League PWP Derived Data PointsUEFA Champions League CPWP IndexUEFA Champions League CPWP Predictability Index

The top eight teams that advanced are identified above – given the general success of CPWP relative to the top eight I’d expect FC Bayern Munich, BArcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus to advance to the semi-finals.

In Closing:

My first of at least 4-5 Academic Papers is soon to be published – my thanks to Terry Favero for helping me work through this new experience – his support, patience, and knowledge in navigating all the nuance associated with writing an Academic Paper has been superb!

All four European competitions show more gets you more – this was not the case for Major League Soccer last year:

Major League Soccer Expected Wins FourWinners Expected Wins PWP Data Relationships Four

When more gets you more in MLS then I sense MLS has reached the BIG TIME – until then I think it’s a great breeding ground for Head Coaches that simply can’t get a job with a soccer club that has huge pockets of money.

Put another way – and many may disagree… I think a Head Coach who really wants to challenge their intellectual grit against another Head Coach can have greater opportunity to do that in MLS than they can by Head Coaching most clubs in Europe.

Why?  For at least one reason – a Head Coach in MLS really has to do more with less…

Errata – the first MLS slide indicates 654 events – the correct number is 646 events…

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT – All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

Barcley’s Premier League – How Goes It?

In my latest installment of Possession with Purpose in Europe I have a number of diagrams to offer to include the latest on the PWP Predictability Index.

You’ll note that in every case the PWP Correlation to the League Tables for all four competitions has stayed the same or gotten better.

Also of interest is that a number of youth soccer teams, and another writer, have joined the queue in leveraging the PWP approach in analyzing soccer games – what remains, after publishing my Academic Paper (real soon as things go) is my ability to get data quicker and to set up a software system – probably using MS Access – to better enable match reporting.

It’s slow going – but that’s okay…  patience is a good thing…

Now for the grist in the English Premier League:

Last we spoke (after Week 26) here was the latest on CPWP Predictability;

  1. Eight of Ten
  2. Seven of Ten
  3. Eight of Ten
  4. Eight of Ten

In looking at Week 27 the CPWP Predictability Index was Six for Eight (hitting the 75% target).

For Week 28 the CPWP-PI had Man City earning at least a point vs. Leicester City, Chelsea earning at least a point vs West Ham, Man United earning at least a point vs Newcastle, Arsenal earning at least a point vs QPR, Everton earning at least a point vs Stoke, Spurs earning at least a point vs Swansea City, Liverpool earning at least a point vs Burnley, Aston Villa v West Brom dead even, Hull City earning at least a point vs Sunderland, and Southampton earning at least a point vs Crystal Palace.  Last but not least there was an off-game played between Spurs and QPR – the CPWP-PI had Spurs earning at least one point – they did.

  • In every case this week the CPWP-PI got it right with one exception – Stoke City took all three points against Everton!  So that made it ten for eleven in identifying whether or not a team would earn at least one point based upon the CPWP-PI.  In only two cases did the team expected to earn a point didn’t get three points – Aston Villa and Hull City.

For Week 29 the CPWP-PI had Chelsea earning at least a point vs Southampton, Everton earning at least a point vs Newcastle, Man United earning at least a point vs Spurs, QPR earning at least a point vs Crystal Palace, Arsenal earning at least a point vs West Ham, Hull City earning at least a point vs Leicester City, Aston Villa earning at least a point vs Sunderland, Stoke City earning at least a point vs West Brom, Man City earning at least a point vs Burnley, and Liverpool earning at least a point vs Swansea City.

  • Burnley had the upset of the week while Crystal Palace and West Brom continued their good, recent, run of form.  All told CPWP-PI correctly identified seven of ten teams earning points that week.

For Week 30 the CPWP-PI had Man United earning at least a point vs Liverpool, Chelsea earning at least a point vs Hull City, Everton earning at least a point vs QPR, Man City earning at least a point vs West Brom, Swansea City earning at least a point vs Aston Villa, Arsenal earning at least a point vs Newcastle, Southampton earning at least a point vs Burnley, Stoke City earning at least a point vs Crystal Palace, Spurs earning at least a point vs Leicester City, and West Ham earning at least a point vs Sunderland.

  • In every case but one the CPWP-PI correctly predicted what team would earn at least one point except for the loss Stoke City had against Crystal Palace – again – a team in good form since the coaching change!  That makes it nine of ten again this past week.

In summary:

  • Eight of Ten
  • Seven of Ten
  • Eight of Ten
  • Eight of Ten
  • Ten of Eleven
  • Seven of Ten
  • Nine of Ten
  • Totaling 57 of 71 for an 80% accuracy rating

Here’s the CPWP Index after Week 30:

CPWP Through Week 30 EPLHere’s the CPWP-PI Predictability Index for Week 30:

CPWP Predictability Index Through Week 30 EPL

For this next week CPWP-PI has:

  • Arsenal earning at least a point vs. Liverpool
  • Southampton earning at least a point vs. Everton
  • West Ham earning at least a point vs. Leicester City
  • Man United earning at least a point vs. Aston Villa
  • Swansea City earning at least a point vs. Hull City
  • West Brom earning at least a point vs. QPR
  • Chelsea earning at least a point vs. Stoke City
  • Spurs earning at least a point vs. Burnley
  • Newcastle earning at least a point vs. Sunderland, and
  • Man City earning at least a point vs. Crystal Palace
  • Another odd game has Aston Villa earning at least a point vs. QPR

In Closing:

Completion of my Academic Paper on Possession with Purpose nears…  another writer has asked to begin leveraging PWP analysis to their own team writing efforts and there are now three youth soccer clubs using the concepts and philosophy of PWP in trying to help their teams improve – both collectively as well as for their individual players.

Best, Chris


Redefining and Modernizing Total Shots Ratio

For many years Total Shots Ratio has plodded along as a good indicator of team shooting performance, not overall team performance, but shooting performance.

It’s a good enough indicator that its found its way into generic match reports for professional soccer teams and has good visibility on Opta – a well recognized soccer statistics company now owned by Perform Group.

But with all that publicity and ‘useability’ that doesn’t make it ‘right’!

Why do I say that?

Within a game of football there are always two teams playing against each other – so team performance statistics should not only take into account what the attacking team is doing – they should also take into account what the opponent is doing to the attacking team.

So what do I mean about modernizing TSR.  Most define TSR has simply the volume of shots one team takes versus the volume of shots another team takes.  That’s okay but the end state is excluded – the result – a goal scored.

So my new vision of TSR centers around the end state as well as the volume – in other words the equation for Attacking TSR (ATSR) now becomes Goals Scored/Shots Taken and then Defending TSR (DTSR) becomes the percentage of your opponent’s Goals Scored/Shots Taken.

Finally, in looking at how well Composite Possession with Purpose correlates to Points Earned in the League Table I would create Composite TSR (CTSR).

Before getting to the numbers – some history first:

I built Possession with Purpose using this philosophy and if you’ve been following my efforts for the last two years you know that my correlations to points earned in the league table are extremely high…  To date:

  • MLS 2014 = .86
  • Bundesliga = .92
  • English Premier League =.92
  • La Liga =.91
  • UEFA Champions League =.87

So let’s peel back the regular way TSR correlates to Points earned in last year’s MLS – when viewing the old way (Total Shots only as a percentage for both teams) the Correlation Coefficient “r” for the entire league was .32.

My new way of calculating CTSR with the End State of Goals scored has a correlation coefficient “r” of .75

Far higher…  now for some data.

Here’s the correlation of the my new TSR Family of Indices shows with respect to Points Earned in the League Table – the same analyses used with respect to CPWP above:

  • MLS 2014 ATSR .74) DTSR (-.54) CTSR (.75)
  • Bundesliga ATSR (.53) DTSR (-.41) CTSR (.68)
  • EPL ATSR (.86) DTSR (-.35) CTSR (.76)
  • La Liga ATSR (.88) DTSR (-.77) CTSR (.92)
  • UEFA ATSR (.64) DTSR (-.40) CTSR (.65)

Like CPWP the correlations vary – in four of five competitions the CTSR has a better correlation to points earned in the league table – while in one case (the EPL) ATSR has the best correlation.

So how do the numbers stack up for some individual teams when evaluating ATSR, DTSR, CTSR, and CPWP compared to those teams points earned throughout the season?

In other words what do the correlations look like (game to game) through the course of a season for sample teams within each of those Leagues?


In almost every sample TSR (now ATSR) has a lower, overall correlation to a teams’ points earned in the League Table than CTSR (Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona being the exception) – this pattern follows the same pattern seen with CPWP almost always having a higher correlation than APWP and Goal Differential almost always having a higher correlation than Goals Scored.

I’ve also taken the liberty of highlighting which Composite Index has the best correlation to points earned between all four categories – in every instance either CTSR or CPWP is higher than TSR.  But, as can be seen, sometimes CTSR is higher than CPWP…

What this proves is that there simply isn’t one Index that is far better or far worse than the other – it shows that different teams show different styles that yield better relationships to points earned in different ways —> meaning there is not only room for improvement in current TSR statistics but room for the inclusion of PWP principles within the Industry standard.

I would offer – however – that even when you create CTSR the backbone of that data can’t offer up supporting analyses on how a team attacks or defends.  It’s still only relevant to the volume of shots taken and goals scored.

And while the volume of shots on goal and goals scored appears to be a constant across most competitive leagues (average greater than 5 and 2 respectively for teams winning on a regular basis) the average of shots taken for winning teams is not as constant… (Expected Wins 4)  —> why I favor PWP over TSR – nothing personal – just my view…

In Closing:

I’m not sure I did a good job of comparing what I view as the old way to calculate TSR (the way that ignores the End State of Scoring a goal) and how an update to it can help tell a better story that actually correlates better to the complexities of soccer.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark