I’ll try to offer some thoughts on this a bit later but to first understand a possible answer to this question I felt it worthy to conduct a compare and contrast between two teams – (LA Galaxy and Toronto FC).
To begin; here’s a reminder on how these two teams finished in the Composite Possession with Purpose Index last year – remembering also that LA ended up with 61 points and Toronto had 41 points:
If Possession with Purpose is new to you I suggest you read here: Possession with Purpose. For statistical purposes the R2 (R squared) for the Index compared to points earned was .85.
Next up – the Big Picture:
Reading from left to right:
- Average PWP Composite Index – the numbers here represent the difference between the subtracting the PWP Defending Index (grouping 3) from the PWP Attacking Index (grouping 2) for each team; LA being the dark blue bar and Toronto being the red bar.
- In other words 2.31 from 2.53 = .21 for LA and 2.42 from 2.33 = -.09 for Toronto. (a difference of .30)
- The 4th grouping – Composite PWP Predictability is the Composite PWP Index (minus) all statistical data associated with a goal scored/goal against – in other words it’s a pure representation of the primary team activities occuring on the pitch exclusive of goals scored. The R2 for the Predictability Index is .69.
- Next over is average Goals Scored for each team throughout the year for each game.
- This is followed by the average Goals Scored by the Opponent against each team throughout the year.
- Second from last is the average Goal Differential – the same logic applies here that is used to create the Composite PWP Index – subtract Goals Scored by the Opponent Goals Scored against that team.
- Last and most important – the average points earned for each team for each game.
- In every case LA exceeded Toronto.
So why were LA better – was it just down to goals scored, higher accuracy in goals scored, or something else?
A way to answer that is by peeling back some differences in team performance.
For example… In the diagram above the difference between LA and TFC, in APWP (grouping 2), is 2.52 – 2.33 = .19. Meaning the overall difference in collective team performance of those two teams is 19%.
So where do those percentage point differences occur in looking at the six quality measurements of APWP?
Here’s the APWP diagram that peels back the six primary categories used to create the Index:
I’ve highlighted two areas and included a smaller area where the word ‘wash’ appears.
“Wash” simply means those two areas balance each other out – the real differences come from looking at the ligh green shaded areas. Those areas were:
- Possession percentage – LA exceeded Toronto by ~6%
- Passing accuracy – LA exceeded Toronto by ~5%
- Penetrating the opponents defending final third – LA exceeded Toronto by ~3%
- Goals scored per shots on goal – LA exceeded Toronto by ~6%
All told roughly 1/4 of the overall difference in team performance (quality) came from goals scored per shots on goal…
Meaning LA performed better in scoring goals but they also performed far better in three other areas, possession, passing accuracy and penetration.
That, alone, may be able to help answer the question about Jozy Altidore but attacking is only one part of the game – how about Defending PWP?
Toronto were worse than LA by 11% points 2.31 – 2.42 (lower is better)
In looking at the DPWP diagram (above) I’ve taken the same approach – the light green shaded areas show differences while the ‘Wash’ area shows where the teams percentages roughly balance each other out.
The difference in LA team performance, again, comes in preventing their opponents from having more control over the game leading up to (and) preventing goals scored against.
In other words LA simply had better overall team defending performances where goals scored was a wash.
Before offering my final thoughts on Jozy Altidore another quick example.
FC Dallas, who made the Playoffs last year, had similar team performances in quality to Toronto – with one exception.
FC Dallas had a 43.87% accuracy rating in converting shots on goal to goals scored compared to Toronto’s 31.21%.
But FC Dallas didn’t reach the pinnacle.
Bottom line at the Bottom:
My view is this: The addition of Jozy Altidore might help Toronto reach the Playoffs but it is unlikely it will lead to Toronto winning the Championship – if they do the Reds will probably play to the style of FC Dallas – and so far that style of attack has not led to a Championship – at least not in the last four years.
What do you think?
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