MLS Soccer – PWP through Week 14 – A deep dive on Dom’s Houston Dynamo…

It’s hard for me to fathom a team wearing orange kits not doing good – just seems wrong to me.  And after making the Playoffs last year it seemed reasonable they’d be knocking at the door again this year.

Not true – at least not yet – so this week is a Study in Orange, to an extent, leveraging many of the supplemental statistics I collect in addition to those supporting my Indices.

To get things started here’s the top-to-bottom Attacking (APWP) Index through Week 14 (represents teams with as many as 16 games and as few as 11 games)…

APWP Through Week 14
APWP Through Week 14

After 14 weeks the APWP Index offers Seattle as the best attacking team in MLS.

What that means is the Sounders are one of top ten teams in possession, passing accuracy, throughout and within the Final Third, while also being effective at taking shots and converting those to shots on target, shots on goal, and goals scored.

Conversely, the most ineffective team in MLS, at this time (consistency wise) is Houston – let’s take a quick look at the differences between these two teams for comparison…

Possession:  Seattle = 51.56%;  Houston = 47.52%

Passing Accuracy Entire Pitch:  Seattle = 77.18%;   Houston = 74.78%

Passing Accuracy Final Third:  Seattle = 64.88%;   Houston = 65.80%

Penetration Percentage into the Final Third:  Seattle = 20.09%;   Houston = 22.57% *

Shots Taken per Penetration:  Seattle = 19.03%;   Houston = 20.25% *

Shots on Goal per Shot Taken:  Seattle = 40.16%;   Houston = 29.06%

Goals Scored per Shot on Goal:  Seattle = 43.53%;   Houston = 19.24%

Goals Scored per game:  Seattle = 2.13;   Houston = 1.00

I’ve put an asterisk (*)  in two categories to reinforce a great talking point at the World Conference on Science and Soccer last week; teams that appear to penetrate more times per overall possession percentage have a tendency to take more shots that are less effective than teams who are a bit more deliberate in their penetration and shot selection.

Since I don’t track shot location it would be interesting to see the general tendencies of Houston when it comes to shot location.

An exception, and aren’t there exceptions to just about everything, is New England – but only with respect to percentage of penetration per pass completed – their’s is 29.04%; considerably higher than either Seattle or Houston.

A big difference, however, is looking at Shots Taken per penetration – the Revolution average 15.55% in that category.

What that means is the Revolution do penetrate more per possession but they actually take far fewer shots per possession (patience) and in turn their shots on target are 4th best in MLS.  That increase in shots on target also drives towards 1.5 goals scored per game.

But back to the deep dive on Dom’s Dynamo; if I were their Sporting Director for the day here’s some additional team performance questions and the answers as of today:

Do we score more goals per game than other teams?  No; we are tied for 2nd worst in goals scored per game this year.

Do we give up more PK’s than other teams?  Yes, we concede .43 PKs against per game this year; 2nd worst in MLS.

Do we concede more corners than other teams?  No; we concede the 7th fewest corners per game this year.

Do we concede more successful crosses than other teams?  No; we concede the 6th fewest successful crosses per game this year.

Do we concede the most Yellow Cards than other teams?  No; we concede the 3rd fewest Yellow Cards per game this year.

Do we concede the most Red Cards than other teams?  Yes; we concede the 5th highest number of Red Cards per game this year.

How are we doing in Defensive Clearances compared to other teams?  We have the 6th fewest clearances per game this year.

Do we have the fewest Tackles Won than other teams?  Yes; we have the 7th fewest tackles won per game this year.

Do we have the most Offsides than other teams?  No; we have the 7th lowest average in offsides per game this year.

Do we have the best passing accuracy across the entire pitch than other teams?  No; we have the 6th worst passing accuracy per game this year.

Do we have the best passing accuracy within the final third than other teams?  No; we are 8th worst in passing accuracy within the Final Third this year.

Do we have the best Shots on Goal percentage than other teams?  No; we are the worst team in MLS putting Shots on Goal per Shots Taken ths year.

Do we have the best Goals Scored percentage than other teams?  No; we are the worst team in MLS in Goal Scoring per Shots on Goal this year.

Do we have the best Defensive PWP in stopping their Opponents this year?

DPWP Through Week 14
DPWP Through Week 14

No; we are the 4th worst team in preventing their opponent from successful possession, passing accuracy, penetration, shots taken, shots on goal and goals scored against this year.

Here’s a few more questions and answers…

Do we yield concede more fouls in their Defending Third than other teams?  Yes; slightly more, we are 8th worst in fouls conceded within their Defending Third.

Do we concede more Goals Against than other teams?  Yes; we have the 4th worst Goals Against this year.

Do we have a large Goal Differential than other teams?  Yes; we have the 3rd highest Goal Differential this year.

Do our Opponents have a higher average of Passing Accuracy than against other teams?  Yes; Opponents of Houston average 78.61% Passing Accuracy; that is 2nd worst this year.

When considering all the other teams and the Composite PWP (the difference between attacking and defending) where is Houston?

CPWP Through Week 14
CPWP Through Week 14

Through Week 14 the Houston Dynamo sit 2nd worst in CPWP.

Last year they finished 12th best in CPWP and were 5th best in CPWP when viewing just Eastern Conference teams…

How is their CPWP at home versus on the road?  There CPWP is -0.4625 on the road – the worst in MLS and their CPWP at home is -0.0589; 4th worst in MLS.

A few other questions as the Houston Dynamo Sporting Director today:

  • What do we do that increases our chances for winning?
  • If we concede fewer Corners and fewer crosses why are we still having a higher than average Goals Against?
  • What does our scouting report say?
  • Who’s in the queue on the trade list to get this team better?
  • Who do we have in the Academy pipeline that can help?
  • When does Brad Davis come back?
  • How’s the fitness level of the players?
  • How’s the locker room atmosphere?
  • Do we have too many average players making more than the average number of mistakes?

Obviously there are more questions than can be asked from an individual player standpoint…

But considering that almost every manager got sacked last year (see diagram below) who coached a side finishing in the bottom half of this Index, there appears to be compelling evidence that Houston needs to make some significant changes somewhere in order to get better.

 

End of Season 2013 CPWP Index
End of Season 2013 CPWP Index

Is there cause for concern? 

I think so – obviously there are far more questions to ask and answers to look for but the performanc indicators for Houston, so far this year, seem compelling enough to cause concern.

Balancing the needs of the organization against the budget is always a tough call but it appears to me that individual player personnel changes are needed – where – I don’t know because I don’t track individual player statistics – the public domain data isn’t good enough.

As for the diagram above – a few additional points to make in seeing what that Index offers:

  1. The top five “Eastern Conference teams” in this Index all made the Playoffs.
  2. The top five “Western Conference teams” in this Index all made the Playoffs.
  3. The Coach of the Year came from the team with the best overall CPWP last year; Portland.

In closing….

I’m not obtuse enough to believe that the current CPWP Index, for this season, represents the final Index.  Nor do I expect that the top five for both conferences will be in the top ten of the End of Season 2014 CPWP Index.

The Intent with this Index is to ‘closely match’ the League Standings not ‘exactly match’ the League Standings.  So far it’s pretty close – I’ll take that.

And since we are near the half-way point of the season I will look to pick out at least one team to review every few days (in the bottom half of this Index) to offer up answers to more of those basic questions.

Best, Chris

 

 

 

 

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