MLS – Reading the Tea Leaves and Predicting Week 20 Outcomes…

A full slate of games for Week 20 that started off with a smashing win by San Jose over a very shabby Chicago – were you surprised; you shouldn’t have been. 

Chicago Fire have the worst average in overall team defensive performance of any team in MLS this year  – and it certainly doesn’t get better on the road.  Read my latest on the Attacking and Defending PWP Indices from Week 19 here.

In addition; San Jose – believe it or not – are one of the most frugal teams in Defensive Possession with Purpose this year (3rd best in my Index to be exact {2.2510}).

To start – a reminder of three things:

  1. The Possession with Purpose Predictability Indices work from PWP “without” Goals Scored or Goals Against – in other words I use the bell curve of five activities, not six, in order to offer an Index of prediction.
  2. To date, after four weeks, the PWP PI has been 74% accurate in predicting the outcomes of games – if you just pick the “home” side to win every game you’d have a 62% chance of being accurate.
  3. This Predictabiliy Index is not leveraged until after most teams have played at least 17 games – there is not enough historical data to generate worthy trends prior to the half-way point in the season.
  4. The two PWP Predictability Indices (Home) and (Away) are provided below for your consideration before I offer up the predicted results.

Home:

CPWP PI HOME WEEK 18
CPWP PI HOME WEEK 18

Away:

CPWP PI AWAY WEEK 18
CPWP PI AWAY WEEK 18

Let the games begin…

  1. San Jose at home to Chicago – results are already in – San Jose wins – PWP PI indicates San Jose should have won (.0368) to Chicago (-.2241).  PWP PI was accurate.
  2. Real Salt Lake at home to Montreal – Home PI for RSL =  .1374 / Away PI for MIFC = -.0170.  PI predicts RSL win.
  3. Colorado at home to Chivas USA – Home PI for CRFC = .1754 / Away PI for CUSA =  -.1827.  PI predicts CRFC win.
  4. Toronto at home to Sporting KC – Home PI for TFC = .1010 / Away PI for SKC = .0929.  PI predicts TFC win.
  5. New England at home to Columbus – Home PI for NER = .2516 / Away PI for CCFC =  .2047.  PI predicts NEW win.
  6. Vancouver at home to FC Dallas – Home PI for VWFC = .1912 / Away PI for FCD = -.2379.  PI predicts VWFC win.
  7. Montreal at home to Portland – Home PI for MIFC = -.0170 / Away PI for PTFC = .0486.  PI predicts PTFC win.
  8. Seattle at home to LA Galaxy – Home PI for SSFC = .2669 / Away PI for LAG = .1031.  PI predicts SSFC win.

In Closing…

That’s from a clinical/objective standpoint looking at the comprehensive ‘bell curve’ of activities that teams have offered in their first 19 weeks of play.

There are intangibles, as always, in soccer – with 22 players, 2 Assistant Referees, 1 Referee, 2 Head Coaches and the potential for 6 total substitutions most anything can happen that might turn a game on its head.

I can’t account for those intangibles but if teams have a propensity for making mental mistakes, getting red cards, or yielding PK’s, on a regular basis, than those intangibles will pile up and impact/influence overall team performance.

Good examples of intangibles at this stage include some:

  • New England are in a slump – seven straight losses
  • FC Dallas are on an up-swing
  • As are Chivas USA
  • Montreal have two games (in four days) against two of the best attacking teams in the Western Conference
  • Colorado have some injuries to deal with
  • Seattle is taking on an LA team that just got thrashed by Manchester United – but LA are simply one of the top performing teams in attack and defense (regardless of being home or away)
  • Toronto are really beginning to gel in attack
  • Portland are one of the best road teams in MLS this year and the addition of Liam Ridgewell does appear to have made their defensive scheme better.
  • Western Conference teams have simply done better against Eastern Conference teams this year (105 points now for the West versus just 69 points for the East in head-to-head competitions).

Editorial…

  • And they are considering moving Sporting KC to the West at some point in the future?  WOW – talk about an unbalanced Major League Soccer Conference scheme!
  • As much as it pains me to say it there should be one Conference and one League or a split to create four Conferences (two east {north/south} and two west {north/south}).
  • If the league is going to operate based upon the ‘entitlement’ that once a team is “in they stay in” (forever with no relegation) then the sooner this league organizes itself like other major sporting leagues in this country the better.

Finally, and perhaps the most controverisal of my views.

  • I don’t look at individual statistics
  • The game is played by a team… and teams win and lose – individual players don’t.
  • Actions, as much as “non-actions” both impact and influence the outcome of games.
  • And no… the statistics that folks should consider generating for this league, as a whole, should not mirror those of Baseball.
  • The further away from Baseball type statistics the better it will be for others (new to the game) to really understand how much of a ‘team game’ soccer really is.

That’s my soap-box rant for the day – a good podcast to listen to where I explain that view is here:  Yellowcarded Podcast.

  • The time hack to begin listening starts around the 3 minute mark and goes to the 35 minute mark
  • Towards the end of that 35 minute mark I respond to a question about the MLS Castrol Index that speaks to my views on the strengths and weaknesses of individual statistics
  • MLS Castrol Index – An individual Index (sponsored through MLS) that is so obtuse and inaccurate it’s mention is hardly worthy as I feel like it’s a backhanded recommendation to click on it and review the outcomes – don’t waste your time!

Best, Chris

 

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