If you’ve been following my Possession with Purpose and Expected Wins articles/streaming research you should know by now that the data had a pretty strong correlation to the MLS League Tables last year.
So how do things look for PWP at this stage in the MLS this year?
A few thoughts….
- It’s early days but the two teams lowest in the League Table (Western and Eastern Conference) also happen to be the lowest teams in the PWP Composite Index this year.
- Caveat – the amount of data for this Index is not ideal; ideal would be how the Index begins to take shape from Week 17 on-wards. I am, however, providing you this information so we can all watch how this Index takes shape for the entire year.
- As noted, last year the final Index was compelling in its relationship to the League Table; I have no idea if that will be the case this year.
- However viewed I don’t advocate that this Index represents a substitute for the League Table but those teams performing well in scoring points also seem to be those teams performing well in Possession with Purpose; or is it vice versa???
- I’ll dig into an update on my PWP approach in my next article, for now I readily acknowledge that this Index is influenced by passing accuracy – but it’s also influenced by shooting accuracy too.
- In looking at the Eastern Conference; the exception last year was Houston and it remains so again this year. This time Houston, with 14 games played, are in fourth in the League Table but 17th overall in PWP; if that 4th place is to continue I’d offer that their PWP Indices will improve compared to other teams.
- As for Montreal, Chicago, Toronto (with 3-5 games in hand), Philadelphia and New York are in the bottom half while Columbus, Sporting, New England and DC United are in the top half for both.
- Bottom line – with a few exceptions the Index looks reasonable – can it be a predictor at or near the 17 game point for all teams? I’m not sure but watching this Index change from week to week is intriguing.
Given that interesting output, I decided to take a look at how teams sit in the Index relative to games played at home versus on the road.
The team who appears to be performing the best on the road, relative to their own Index ratings, is Chivas – their differential is -.39. In looking at the total goals scored at home they have six, on the road they have 7. Chivas have taken six points away from home and four points at home.
Chicago Fire also appear to do better on the road than at home – they have 11 goals on the road and eight goals at home. Indeed they also have taken six points away from home and six points at home.
In looking at the upper end of the Index differences, New England leads PWP in team performance at home versus on the road. Their own Index difference is .68; with 13 points at home and ten points on the road going with 11 home goals and 10 road goals.
Next up is San Jose at .49 – they have scored 11 goals at home and just two on the road. Taking 12 points at home and just one point on the road.
In looking at the six steps of PWP for New England (home and away) they have about the same possession (~47% each) and overall passing accuracy (72.7% each). The biggest difference comes in penetration completion; at home the Revolution complete ~33% of all their overall passes within the Final Third; while on the road that figure is ~26% – a full 7% points difference. So it appears they are more willing to possess with the “intent to possess” more on the road.
In addition, the number of shots taken versus passes completed in the Final Third is ~17% at home while ~15% on the road. Again, more patience in attack on the road…
Finally, while their Shots taken versus shots on goal are slightly higher on the road (42% to 40%) their ability to score goals versus shots on goal is 33% at home versus 23% on the road. In other words they are more accurate in their goals scored at home.
As for San Jose the wide difference in goals scored at home versus on the road should be pretty obvious but in case you were wondering – in the four games San Jose have played on the road their overall penetration into the final third is 3% less than at home.
Their shots taken versus completed passes in the Final Third is 9% less, Shots on Goal versus Shots Taken is 14% less and their Goals Scored versus Shots on Goal is 19% less. In the case of San Jose it’s “less means less” in almost every category…
In considering Chivas…
To date they have played 5 games at home. At home their possession is 4% higher, passing accuracy is 6% higher, penetration is 1% higher, their shots per penetration is higher by 2% but their shots on goal per shot taken is 7% lower and their goals scored versus shots on goal is 17% lower.
In other words, at home, they appear to have more quantity in their overall passing to penetrate but they have less quality when it comes to scoring goals.
I’m not sure how this will play out for the year but at this stage the data is interesting. Is it compelling one way or the other? Hard to tell, but we don’t know what we don’t know unless we at least throw it out there to take a look…
For now I think it is compelling enough to re-look later this year on how team performance in PWP takes shape at home and away…