Total Soccer Index Returns

Well the last few years have been quite a disappointment with MLS changing their soccer statistics format and other public sites no longer offering the key statistics I need in order to provide the United States soccer supporters a worthy Index that rates teams based upon controlled possession, penetration, creation, and shot taking.

But that’s changed, after a considerable review of publicly made available soccer statistics I’ll now be able to provide some cutting edge team performance analyses; to include the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, at least for the United States.

What does this mean? Well, for those who’ve previously followed my analyses I’ll now be able to provide you a good forecasting tool to help you with betting. And, likely, some good team performance info that will help you determine what individual players may help you on your fantasy teams.

I wish you all good luck and good fortune next year.

Best regards, Chris

Portland Timbers defeat Colorado Rapids 1 – Nil

Ever since their thrashing at the hands of Seattle Sounders around mid-season this year the Portland Timbers have been a team on a mission. Win, Win, and then Win again.

No team in MLS has done better since August 21st than Portland… No one.

Why is this and how, exactly, did that manifest itself in Colorado Thanksgiving day yesterday?

Well, it WASN’T down to Expected Goals (like www.mlssoccer.com Charles Boehm offers) just exactly how ignorant does he think the American soccer supporter really is, lest I forget about all you “full kit wankers”? Nor was it down to failed progression in penetrating possession by Colorado (based off statistics).

In case you didn’t know “Expected Goals” is NOT a statistical forecasting tool. Sorry, I just can’t NOT diss any writer who uses a statistical tool that has absolutely NO CORRELATION to points earned/lost…

In short……….. It was down to grist, grit, and nous knowing that set-pieces can win games. And with their star player taking a fall from a hamstring injury it was clear that grist was their avenue to victory.So what’s next for Portland? Well, to be honest, the opponent doesn’t matter – Savarese will take the same approach but use a few different players. I’ll not comment about Dairon Asprilla, just say I told you so.

Here’s what I hope – Diego Valeri gets a start and offers his magic for at least 60 minutes of play – what better way to end a swan song of a season than to go out with his boots on and a sweaty man-bun.

Good luck to Portland.

Best, Chris Gluck

Getting Better as a Youth Soccer Coach

When I was a Soccer Youth Head Coach, in England and America, I sometimes struggled with how to manage the well-intentioned, high level of energy, that parents and/or guardians brought to the Soccer pitch.

At that time I hadn’t concieved my Possession with Purpose analytical approach, but if I had, I would certainly have followed it.

Why, because I think and feel there is great value in understanding some of the basic activities of soccer, mesauring those activities, and using those results to drive improvement.  And the earlier in the development of soccer the better in understanding that while this game is measured by wins, draws, and losses, it isn’t just about scoring goals – it’s about preventing them too.

If you’re an aspiring soccer Head Coach, new or old, I think this approach in leveraging parents/guardians to help you help the team is a great step towards getting better.

If that resonates with you, or even if it doesn’t, I think it’s worthy you take a few minutes to consider what I offer.

Before digging in, you should know up front, this entire approach works from my Strategic Possession with Purpose Family of Indices; the same analysis offered up at the 2014 World Conference on Science and Soccer.

And the same analysis used to evalute professional team performances within Major League Soccer, the English Premier League, the Bundesliga, La Liga, World Cup 2014 and the UEFA Champions League.

The End State is to measure team performance – ignoring results (points in the league table) in order to track and trend (analyze) individual and team performance with the intent of driving towards improvement.

In statistical terms the relationship (correlation) of my analyses (the Composite PWP Index to Points in the League Table) without counting points is (R2) .86.

In other words 86% of the time my own Index reflects the outputs in the League Table without counting points.

AND…. 86% of the time the winning teams execute the steps within PWP better than the losing team!

With that said here’s what to do.

  1. Split the pitch into thirds and place one parent at the entry point into your own defending final third and one at the entry point into your opponent’s defending final third.
  2. Next, place two parents at the middle of the pitch.
  3. Then place one parent at or near the end line on your defending side of the pitch and then one parent at the same position on the opponent’s defending side of the pitch.
  4. Give each parent a clipboard and pen (waterproof if necessary) and have them begin to count and keep track of certain ‘team’ data points.
  5. The two parents in the center of the pitch are to count and document (all) passes attempted and passes completed for each team (throw-ins and free kicks included) across the entire pitch.  If you have four parents then have two track passes attempted and two track passes completed, one for each team.
  6. The two parents at the entry to the defending final third are to count and document passes attempted and completed (within and into) the defending final third for each team. This also includes all throw-ins, crosses, corners and free kicks that are not specific shots taken on goal.  If you have four parents/guardians then have one each track passes attempted and passes completed separately for each team.
  7. Finally, the two parents on the end lines are to count and document shots taken, shots on goal, and goals scored for each team.

At the end of the game you will have a complete data base (by volume and percentage) that gives you the information to identify your team’s possession percentage, passing accuracy, penetration per possession, ability to generate shots per penetrating possession, what percentage of those shots taken were on goal and what percentage of those shots on goal that scored goals (your team attacking).

And since you collected data on your opponent you will also have all the data on how well your opponent did in those same categories against you (your team defending).

Pretty much meaning you’ve just captured the ENTIRE bell curve of activities I use to measure team performance at the very highest level in the World.

With that data you can now determine, analyze, and document/chart/track ways to improve your attacking as well as defending team performances.  And as each game occurs you continue to build a data.

This information is then used to help you develop new training plans that look to help the team improve where weaknesses exist.

I do not recommend keeping track of individual performance unless you have enough parents and players who are mature enough to deal with individual weaknesses.

This approach should have application at any level of soccer – to include premier, as well as select, recreational, ODP or elsewhere.  As a matter of opinion, I’d offer the closer you are to a higher level of play the more important this approach becomes.

Outcomes from this approach give data to set targets for improvement and the ability to measure the success in that improvement.

In addition, this approach also reinforces that Youth Soccer Development is not all about winning, it’s about getting better while trying to do the things teams need to do in order to win.

If any team wishes to take on this challenge, as a youth club, anywhere in America, send me your data and I will give you one month of analysis that includes preparing products I develop in my analysis of professional football clubs.

I may even publish those products, as examples, for others to learn from in future articles.

And if you are located in the Portland or Beaverton area send me a note and I will make every effort to visit a training session, and or game, to help better explain this approach.

Finally, my general analysis may also include some recommendations on what training plans/programs may help focus your team on key areas to improve.

Bottom line at the bottom:

There is value in understanding and tracking the basic activities that occur in a game of soccer.  It not only helps the players understand their larger role in this team game it also helps the parents understand the greater detail and responsibility you have as a coach to help others get better as a ‘team’.

In case you missed it; this year four Head Coaches from teams who finished near or bottom on the CPWP Strategic Index have already been sacked in MLS:

CPWP Strategic Index Week 31 MLS

And last year five of the six worst teams in performing the PWP steps had the Head Coaches sacked!

End of Season 2013 MLS Coaching Changes

Pretty compelling evidence that teams who perform better have Head Coaches who last longer… if you want to have success as a Youth Head Coach then I strongly suggest you adopt the measurement methods and analysis associated with PWP; with or without using Parents/Guardians.

If there are every any questions please feel free to contact me through Linked-in or through twitter; my twitter is @chrisgluckpwp.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark.

MLS Playoffs – Predictions with Purpose (Updated)

To the chase…  my PWP Predictability Index leveraging my Possession with Purpose Analysis.  Click here for my latest revision or click here to read the initial revision.

NOTE:  Updates for the Red Bulls v DC United and Sounders v Dallas match are at the end of the article.

The Predictability Index itself is the CPWP Index data minus Goals Scored / Goals Against and is split into two diagrams – Home Predictability versus Away Predictability.

Here’s the CPWP Strategic Predictability Index for teams at Home:

CPWP PREDICTABILITY INDEX END OF SEASON 2014 HOME

Here’s the CPWP Strategic Predictability Index for teams Away from Home.

CPWP PREDICTABILITY INDEX END OF SEASON 2014 AWAY

Note the significant differences in how the teams are predicted to perform at home versus on the road; four teams really sucked at home this year, while four teams were expected to perform quite well on the road.  

Here’s how it works; I will compare the two digit number of the home team with the two digit number of the away team.

Whichever number is higher it’s that team which is predicted to win… again… based upon their history of team performance in overall attacking and defending, exclusive of goals scored; this year.

And now the PWP Predictions:

FC Dallas versus Vancouver Whitecaps matchup.  FC Dallas at Home (0.00) while Vancouver on the Road (-.11)  FC Dallas wins.

FC Dallas key indicators are ceding possession and creating quick counter-attacking scenarios that use time and space created by Vancouver being too aggressive in attack.

Vancouver key indicators are maintaining patience in possession and not losing position in defending – they are one of the top defending teams in MLS; they will need to be at their best to beat Dallas.

Next up; New York Red Bulls versus Sporting Kansas City.  New York at Home (0.10) while Sporting Kansas City on the Road (0.05) New York wins.

New York key indicators are their attack from a number of different angles.  They are simply one of the top attacking teams in all of MLS – they need to attack, attack, attack, and hope, with all their hope, that they can keep Sporting KC from scoring a goal.

Sporting KC key indicators are their ability to defend; they are still one of the best defending teams in MLS.  If they can control the wide open attack, I’d expect from New York, and their propensity for fouling in their own defending final third, I can see some individual talent from Zusi or some set-pieces giving them the edge to win.

Columbus Crew versus New England Revolution.  Columbus Crew at Home (0.06)  while New England on the Road (-0.08).  Columbus wins game 1.  Columbus Crew on the Road (0.06) while New England at Home (0.23) -> New England wins game 2.  I offer Columbus advances over New England on away goal difference.

Columbus key indicators include being one of the most consistent teams in overall attacking and defending team performance in MLS – with this being a two game set I’d imagine consistency in attacking and penetration as well as consistency in defending the danger spaces will see them through.

New England key indicators are slightly changed with Jones on the pitch – his leadership may give the edge to a Revolution team who are, in my opinion, outgunned in almost every other category.  They are a big under-dog in my opinion but not everybody rates Columbus as strongly as I do…

Real Salt Lake versus LA Galaxy.   Salt Lake at Home (0.33)  while LA Galaxy on the Road (0.12).  RSL wins game 1.   LA Galaxy at Home (0.19)  while Salt Lake on the Road (-0.01).  LA Galaxy wins game 2.  I offer LA Galaxy advance over Real Salt Lake on away goals difference.  

Salt Lake key indicators include, as noted, a stingy defense at home and a propensity to win in Rio Tinto.  They also have pedigree not unlike LA Galaxy, and perhaps an even more veteran line-up when it comes to big games.  Lest we forget Salt Lake could have done much better last year and didn’t – they will have added energy that might surpass the emotions LA bring with them in pushing to help Donovan raise the Cup once more.

LA Galaxy key indicators are pace, possession, penetration and all around purpose that operated at peak performance for almost the entire year.  It should be noted that they didn’t collect the silverware last week and in all likelihood they could stumble here as well as they may look past Real and consider the Cup is theirs…  So arrogance is an enemy as is the continued lack of mental awareness by Gonzalez…

More to follow after the games midweek after seeing who qualifies to play Seattle and DC United…

As for my own personal predictions I can see New York advancing as well as FC Dallas but the Vancouver defense is very good as is the Sporting KC defense.

I will go with Sporting over New York and Vancouver over FC Dallas because I think those team defenses are better – and for me it’s all about defense.

With respect to Columbus – I agree with my PWP Prediction model for that game as well as the game between LA and RSL…  and in this case I also happen to think the defenses for Columbus and LA are better.

More to follow:…

Seattle Sounders at Home (.22) while Dallas on the Road (-.20).  Seattle wins when playing at Home.  FC Dallas at Home (.00) while  Seattle on the Road (-.04).  FC Dallas wins at home.  Seattle advances on away goals difference.

For me, I can see Seattle beating FC Dallas at home and on the road.  Dallas may be a bit tired for game 1 and the Predictability Index hasn’t been built to address ‘tired legs’…

At the end of the day this should be a clean sweep for the Sounders…

DC United at Home (.03) while New York on the Road (-.03).  DC United wins at Home.  New York at Home (.10) while DC United on the Road (-.08).  New York wins at Home.  New York advances on away goals difference.

For me I can see a clean sweep here as well – it may be surprising but I can see New York, riding the wave of Phillips and, most likely, the last season for Thierry Henry, all the way into the Finals.  This is not intended to diss DC United.

They are a very good team but somehow I don’t see the ‘tired legs’ syndrome impacting the Red Bulls as much as Dallas… too much at stake for a team that has invested huge money in their players and program.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark.

 

@Timbersfc look shoddy in defending as they lose 1-4 to @MNUFC

Portland Timbers vs Minnesota United – Wednesday – 19 Feb 2020.

Prior to kickoff a few minutes were taken to chat with Ebobisse – who is coming off knee surgery this off-season.  I’m sensing Portland wants to continue to build  Jeremy from within – given the off-season signings of forwards he’ll have quite a bit to do to convince Savarese he’s worthy of meaningful minutes.

Anyhow – kickoff begins as the supporter’s cheer completion of the national anthem.

To begin – lots of ping pong with the ball with no sustained possession by either side – early nerves perhaps – until Toye takes an early penetrating pass and loses control in the 18 yard box… sloppy.

So within the first 3 minutes the Timbers back four was easily penetrated – a bit worrying perhaps?

First shot of the game goes to Portland after a quick penetration by Farfan – the finishing touch went awry.  Four minutes in and it’s a very direct game – no building from the back by either side.

As for ball movement – Williamson played a nice ball to Conechny (right side) who failed to finish – the following corner ball resulted in a Minnesota goal kick.

Defensively – Portland is pressing very very high – about 20 yards past the midfield line.  Once Minnesota gets past the midfield line Portland drops back and yields space in the midfield.  That is the type of attacking play I’d like to see for Portland – get the initial penetration into the attacking third – when the opponent settles back return the ball to the midfield and then look to create precise penetration with through balls and quick switches.

As for Minnesota being able to do that against Portland – so far 8 minutes in they haven’t.

With Portland now on the ball I am beginning to see some controlled possession – only to see them lose control as they try to penetrate atop the 18 yard box… this was their greatest weakness last year and so far the midfield (Asprilla, Williamson, and Polo) have not changed that failure.

13 Minutes in and the continued high press for Portland (Zambrano) has unsettled Minnesota with Cascante just missing a strong header following the cross.

More continued high pressure sees Portland begin to take control – developing what I call the ‘umbrella attack’ – that’s where the attacking side passes the ball from left to right and right to left with the intent of finding a penetrating pass into the 18 yard box in between switching sides – THIS is the type of play they need to master in order to beat the low block.

We saw near around the 20 minute mark a great shot by Bonilla after quick left to right movement by Williamson and others – superb save – or – poor shot?  Anyhow, not 10 seconds later Asprilla showed the exact opposite by trying to brute the ball through three defenders…  some guys seem to be learning to attack appropriately while others aren’t!

NOTE 1:  Before I get to far into this match report we shouldn’t forget this is just preseason – and while the Timbers players may be rusty it’s likely the Loons players are as well.

25 minutes in and Portland still continues to press high up the pitch,  yet when Minnesota does gain control in their attacking third the defenders are well positioned to stop penetration – with Duvall showing good tenor as a center-back.

All this aside, at the 30 minute mark Dairon Asprilla showed why this game is so wicked – he’s had poor control and bad passing tendencies but out of nowhere he gets the ball top left of the 18 yard box and finished a textbook strike to the near post… Some say a player who offers a special finish once every two games is worth starting every game – in a league like Major League Soccer where a good group of defenders are not very good – a player like Asprilla is going to get minutes.

All that said refer back to Note 1 above… the player he was going against is not a starting left back in MLS so I suppose it could be expected that a player like Asprilla to own him…

In the 34th minute? If Conechny keeps his feet and simply looks to press and ‘lead the attacker to the sideline’ it’s likely that penetration and goal scored doesn’t happen – so don’t blame the defenders on that one – blame Conechny! 🙂

With that goal scored Minnesota has garned more control and possession – putting Portland on their back heels…  Savarese and the on-field Captain need to have a word with the players as Zambrano got pulled down a few minutes before the half.

Game has reverted back to the sloppy direct play by both teams.

As the first half neared completion Portland again won the ball with the high press – sadly Williamson failed to convert an open shot on goal – if he wants regular season minutes he really needs to finish those shots with a goal.

1st half comments – no sustained possession with purpose – some ball movement left to right and vice versa with one stunning strike by Asprilla and two shots left wanting big time!  In the defensive third I’d offer the played very well – the one play was made by Tomas Conechny which directly lead to the Minnesota goal.  In case you missed it he left his feet with an unwarranted sliding tackle outside the defending third – that loss of defensive control gave the opponent plenty of time to offer a penetrating pass where the Loons player crossed into a disarrayed defensive back four.

I will specifically submit if Conechny does NOT leave his feet and simply ‘contains’ the opponent in that area that penetrating pass never happens…

As the second half got under way Portland has tried to play the ball out from the back – to no great success I might add – luckily Minnesota is just as bad as Portland in breaking down the low block.

The new striker came on – Zarakowsky?

More direct play from Asprilla – and on the counter-attack the Loons go ahead 2-1.  Far too easy and Chacon led that attack again as Duvall looks weak in his challenge atop the 18 yard box.  So that’s Raheem Edwards with a brace for Minnesota.

I’ll swing back to the controlled possession with purpose concept hear – IF Aspilla takes his time – notices there’s nothing on and instead he recycles the ball back to the midfield Portland doesn’t get beaten on that quick counter-attack!

When you possess the ball the opponent doesn’t – this is like a basic tenet in being a better defensive team.

As play continues – Portland looks to sustain possession but fails again and again… the latest loss in possession led to Cascante getting a red card as he found himself out of position when Portland lost the ball.

Too much shoddy defending this second half as the new guy Epps gets soundly beaten on the right side – eventually the overall possession led to goal number three by Chacon.

AS the second half has continued we’ve seen more sloppy possession, a corner going nowhere and Conechny trying to pass the ball through the closed legs of an opponent…  they seem panicked and disarrayed in attack – only near the 79 minute mark did Portland have any sustained possession with even that one ending when Farfan tried to apss the ball through the closed legs of an opponent.

Time passes – Minnesota gets ANOTHER counter-attack goal and it’s 4-1 Minnesota… by the way there was another sliding tackle by a Portland player.

Towards the end of the game (roughly 75 minutes in)  quite a couple of new players came on – and from that point forward this game was over.

In closing: The two guys I paid special attention to tonight.

Conechny certainly dropped in my books – his poor midfield defending
(sliding tackle that missed the target by a huge margin) directly led to Minnesota scoring their first goal.

Farfan – looked good and not out of his depth – all told I think he played well.

Unknown – Krolicki – great left peg – nice strike – technique was superb!  Top flight goal for sure – who is this guy?

Unknown – #66 looked good in positional play – was fully aware of this positioning relative to the opponents.

The others – while Asprilla scored a cracking goal his play during the rest of the game was made up of losing possession and trying far to hard to play direct – if Savarese is REALLY looking to change the tactics up a bit by playing with more unpredictability then Asprilla needs to go… I keep saying that year after year after year.

So far nothing has changed – the tactics remain the same – some possession but nothing sustained – poor defending with many players leaving their feet with sliding tackles.

If Savarese is looking to have changed his tactics you would have thought even the young guys would show some changes too – they haven’t – this team looks predictable #sameasiteverwas.

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?

Samples ATSR DTSR CTSR CPWP

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

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…

Germany:

 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…

Spain:

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

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What’s next for US Soccer?

Who cares?

I suppose there’s a fan base out there that does – but as in years’ past the quality of soccer in our country remains mediocre at best.  The most obvious example being the large quantity of MLS players playing for our national team – which got hammered recently (beaten across every inch of the pitch) by Canada; another mediocre soccer nation.

Five years ago I lambasted US Soccer for keeping Jurgen Klinsmann as the head coach after the paltry performance in WC 2014.

Nevermind the HUGE tactical error he made in taking Graham Zusi off the pitch and replacing him with Omar Gonzalez – the defensive area of the pitch Graham Zusi was responsible for was the exact area Cristian Ronaldo delivered his game tying cross after Michael Bradley (probably the worst controlled possession-based midfielder the United States has ever fielded) lost the ball in the midfield.

Three years ago I performed an analysis on which American should head coach our squad – my selection was Jesse Marsch – Gregg Berhalter didn’t even finish in the top four.  Marsch since moved on to coaching in Europe while Arena, and then Berhalter, took the helm for our country.

Arena, and our national team were humiliated as they failed to qualify for WC 2018 and Berhalter has been most recently humiliated in his loss to Canada.

Five years ago I offered this tactical observation – the United States will NEVER be a great counterattacking team until AFTER they can first learn to dominate a game through possession.

You simply can’t be any good at threatening a counterattack without first mastering passing and controlling the game in the middle of the pitch.  This isn’t rocket science here.

  • It is basic.
  • It is fundamental.

EVERY World Cup winner has always shown the capacity and capability to play controlled possession-based soccer.  EVERYONE of them.

Tactically, NOTHING has changed for the US Men’s National Team.

 

English Premier League – The Best of the Best and All the Rest

A comprehensive championship for Chelsea and while the Blues were singing this year plenty of teams weren’t.

Here’s my statistical tale of the tape in Possession with Purpose – leading off with the most important question – is the Index relevant, and if so, how and with resepct to what?

EPL COMPOSITE PWP INDEX

The Index speaks for itself – there is simply no greater publicly generated Index that more accurately represents the English Premier League Table (without including points earned) than this Index… a .94 Correlation Coefficient is simply stunning and while I won’t offer the Indices (here) from the Bundesliga or La Liga, both of those Indices ended up showing an “r” of .94 and .93 respectively.

 

Need to fix the typo………..  should be “r’ instead of “r2″….