Possession with Purpose – Who’s hot and who’s not in the last ten weeks?

A different view on Possession with Purpose in Major League Soccer this week…. this time around I’ll be offering up my Indices using just that last ten weeks of the MLS Regular season to look for any trends in who’s better or worse compared to the season as a whole.

For those not familiar with Possession with Purpose yet here’s a link to the Introduction and Explanations on how it works.

Here goes…

After Week 19 here’s how the teams stand in Attacking PWP (APWP):

APWP INDEX WEEK 19 MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
APWP INDEX WEEK 19 MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER

Now here’s how these teams have performed in Attack the last 10 Weeks:

APWP INDEX WEEK 10 TO 19 MLS
APWP INDEX WEEK 10 TO 19 MLS

The first team in the queue for the last ten weeks is Portland; I wonder what their Defending PWP looks like.

For most, Portland being this high shouldn’t be a surprise – they continue to remain one of the best attacking teams in MLS.

Also up top are LA Galaxy, New York, and Philadelphia.

In taking a closer look at Philadelphia, for the whole season, they are 7th best in team attack but 4th best here – the change in leadership has certainly generated a positive impact on the teams ability to attack.

On the bottom half of this Index we see Houston, San Jose, Chivas USA, Montreal, and Chicago.

No change here in the last ten weeks compared to the whole season so far… might there be another mid-to-late season change in Head Coaches or will things get better after the transfer season ends?

The biggest mover, when viewing the whole season versus the last ten weeks, is Toronto – their APWP sits 8th best in the last ten weeks compared to 14th best for the whole season – quite a remarkable jump.

The biggest mover, on the negative side, has been FC Dallas; mired in that winless streak they dropped from 3rd best (as a whole) down to 13th best in the last 10 weeks.

That win this past weekend was really a huge boost – perhaps more than Pareja might have been willing to admit!

So it’s fair to say that as time has passed Portland and Toronto have got stronger while FC Dallas regressed (like last year).

Montreal, San Jose, Chicago, Houston, and Chivas (even with their little win streak) are simply not firing on all cylinders.  As a reminder from last year, five of the six teams to finish in the bottom of the Composite PWP Index had their Head Coaches sacked or let go prior to the season ending.

Might we see that same pattern emerge again this year?

So how about on the Defending side of PWP (DPWP)?  Here’s the Index as the season stands today:

DPWP INDEX WEEK 19 MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
DPWP INDEX WEEK 19 MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER

And here is the DPWP Index for the last 10 weeks:

DPWP INDEX WEEK 10 TO 19 MLS
DPWP INDEX WEEK 10 TO 19 MLS

In looking at the Defending side this might explain why some teams simply aren’t further up the League Table than other teams.

Great examples include New England, New York, Portland, and Philadelphia.

In returning to Portland, and their surge in team attacking performance the last ten weeks, a review of the DPWP Index indicates they have dropped one place.  Not a big change but considering their were the best in DPWP for almost the entire year last year that drop in team performance really has impacted their position in the League Table.

Philadelphia – so while the Curtin change has made a difference in attacking team performance the defending side of the game has suffered; the Union are now 3rd worst in the last ten weeks compared to 5th worst overall.

New York have also taken a hit in DPWP.  In the last ten weeks they have the worst team defensive performance of anyone.

So that slide down from 6th worst in MLS to worst in MLS has probably outweighed that individual attacking performance seen with Bradley Wright-Phillips… kinda reinforces again… that this game isn’t all about scoring goals – preventing goals adds value too.

I’ve often wondered if the viability of Mike Petke as a defensive-minded Head Coach has been over-rated somewhat given the individual attacking influence Thierry Henry brings to the team?

But the worst drop, in the last ten weeks, belongs to New England.  Throughout the entire season they are 10th best in DPWP; but in the last ten weeks that 10th best has eroded to 2nd worst – a drop of 8 places.  The defensive woes are piling up – I might have to take a special look at New England in the next few weeks.

As for the most improved in DPWP the last ten weeks…

The biggest mover looks to me like Chivas USA.

For the season, as a whole, they sit 4th worst but in the last ten weeks the Goats have improved to 7th best in MLS; a shift of nine places in the last ten weeks.

My thoughts, on that improvement, center on the defensive unit dropping deeper to allow the opponent slightly more penetration.

In doing that the open spaces, in and around the 18 yard box, are naturally smaller.  Western Conference foes should take heed of the apparent defensive tactical change!

In Closing…

The Indices are not prone to teams making quick moves up or down the ladder – time passes and the changes are usually subtle and go unnoticed unless a team goes on a viral winning or losing spree.

If I were going to watch a few teams more closely in these last 14 or so games it’d be how well the DPWP shows for Portland, Philadelphia, Chivas, New England, and New York play and how well the APWP shows for San Jose, FC Dallas, Columbus, and Toronto Attack.

Best, Chris

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