My thanks to everyone who has supported my web site the last four years!
It’s been a learning experience for me and, I hope, for you too.
As the new year starts I’ve got at least five new articles planned; here’s a quick synopsis on what to expect:
- Following up on Coaching Youth Soccer Part I and Coaching Youth Soccer Part II, I’ll be offering Coaching Youth Soccer Part III – digging into which team statistics to use, why, when, and how to use them. For those who don’t know me these three articles highlight my coaching philosophy into one three word catchphrase “muscle memory mentality“.
- Two new individual soccer statistics: This (may?) be controversial – My intent is to submit two new, professional level, individual, soccer statistics that could transform the player market value system.
Said differently; are private statistics companies, like Prozone Sports, OPTA, and InStat (along with player agents) manipulating the player market value system by ignoring what might be the most logical, intuitive, individual soccer statistics ever?
- Expected Points – An updated version of my previously created Expected Wins series of articles. A follow on to what was offered at the World Conference on Science & Soccer 2017, Rennes, France.
- Expected Goals – A new way to calculate this over-hyped soccer statistic that brings it a bit closer to reality.
- World Cup 2018 Total Soccer Index; to include predicting the winners after round one is complete.
For now, in case you missed one or two, here’s my rundown on the top five articles in each of the last four years.
- World Conference on Science & Soccer 2014 – a power point presentation of what I offered as a guest speaker at this prestigious event. #2 All Time.
- Is European Football Really Higher Quality than Major League Soccer – a look at possession with purpose across Europe as compared to MLS. #5 All Time.
- On Fire – or Can’t Hold a Candle – Are Chicago Fire Burning at Both Ends – a look at Chicago Fire in 2014 and their woes in not winning.
- Possession with Purpose Revised Introduction – my second update to PWP; the most accurate, publicly generated soccer index. #1 All Time.
- Major League Soccer – Week 25 – Portland Finally Show Up
- Possession with Purpose Revised Introduction – two years running in the top five.
- Busting the Myth of Moneyball in Soccer Statistics – my take on the flawed reasoning that individual statistics actually add great value in evaluating player effectiveness. #6 All Time.
- Redefining and Modernizing total Shots Ratio – Debunking TSR – note this statistic has now been shoved to the side. #8 All Time.
- World Conference on Science & Soccer 2014 – two years running in the top five.
- Is European Football Really Higher Quality than Major League Soccer – two years running in the top five.
- US Soccer – Improving College Soccer in the United States – peeling back issues with College Soccer – a topic with a very high visibility rate now. #4 All Time.
- Moneyball 2 – Soccer Statistics Taking it to the Next Level – thoughts and ideas about the next iteration of individual soccer statistics. #7 All Time.
- Training Soccer in America – God Smackingly Obvious Or is It – my first article highlighting my frustrations with US Soccer Youth Development – a topic with a very high visibility rate now.
- Busting the Myth of Moneyball in Soccer Statistics – two years running in the top five.
- Possession with Purpose Revised Introduction – three years running in the top five.
- Porter Pulls out of Portland – Caleb Porter resigns. #3 All Time.
- Updated Possession with Purpose – four years running. Update includes a revision to my Total Soccer Index. Two new algorithmic revisions have the correlation (r) to points earned in the league table exceeding ‘goal differential’; the benchmark statistic of modern day soccer.
- Getting Hot in Portland – On a poor run, Portland Timbers head coach, Caleb Porter publicly humiliates some of his players during post game press conferences – the first article in America projecting he may be out by the end of the season.
- Portland Timbers hire Gio Savarese – Caleb Porter’s replacement; no frills from an MLS shill here – let’s wait till the end of year 1 before drawing any conclusions or over-hyping what he offers.
- It’s not just US Soccer that Needs to Wipe the Slate Clean – The first article offered in the US Soccer media environment that publicly slams mainstream soccer media for inadequate journalism – a topic with a very high visibility rate now.
- I called for Jurgen Klinsmann to be sacked after WC 2014 because his tactics and in-game adjustments weren’t up to snuff. Three years later the rest of the american mainstream soccer media world agreed and Klinsmann was sacked.
- I called for Sunil Gulati to be ‘ousted’ after WC 2014 because his leadership in helping youth development and head coach selection weren’t up to snuff. Three years later the rest of the american mainstream soccer media world agreed and Gulati is out.
- In hindsight – I wonder where we’d be in youth soccer development if we’d have made those decisions three years ago?
- No, I do not favor Caleb Porter as the next US Men’s National Team head coach. I like Caleb, he’s a stand-up guy and always took time to share and listen. That said, in my opinion, he’s not (consistently) good enough at reading in game situations and making tactical adjustments that lead to better performances; the exact same issue I had with Jurgen Klinsmann. .
- I’m hopeful either Eric Wynalda or Steve Gans are elected as the next United States Soccer Federation President; electing Kathy Carter is a NO-GO in my view as there’s perceived ‘collusion’ between MLS and SUM. As a retired Air-Force veteran perception is reality until proven otherwise – some may disagree?
I wish you all the best for the new year.
Ironic? An epithet created by the Timbers Army, which had sincere meaning in the playoffs last year, might have even more meaning this year.
The Path Long, The Way Unknown, You are the mapmakers.
Caleb Porter is out and Gio Savarese is in.
In case you missed it – my thoughts on why Caleb left Porter Pulls out of Portland.
Last week I mentioned I’d give Gio Savarese a year before offering thoughts – for me it’s worthy to give him a chance to settle in before setting expectations.
But alas, my good friend Steven Lenhart (Nevets) called me ‘an old man sitting at the end of the bar’ because I wouldn’t offer an opinion.
Here’s what I’ve heard so far; Gio Savarese:
- creates a great locker room environment,
- has an understanding of tactics and setting his teams up to play different formations based upon his player’s availability or the opponent’s style of play,
- has an understanding in the value of controlled possession-based soccer,
- has an ability to read the game, as it’s being played, making tactical adjustments and/or substitutions that maximize the opportunity to earn points.
That’s a lot of strengths, perhaps in some areas where there may have been weaknesses under the leadership of Porter?
So far I’ve heard nothing negative, maybe that’s a good thing?
If you want a strong dose of positive hyperbole take some time to read this from Dave Martinez as a contributor to MLS.
Personally I wouldn’t call coaching in MLS as being at the top of the soccer pyramid but that’s just me.
Anyhow, stepping off my soap box – for me I’m not going to offer anything negative or positive about Gio Savarese, I can’t.
I’ve never watched a game he’s managed and I’ve never spoken with him… so the pat answer, based on how I’ve been raised, is “let’s wait and see”.
But to scratch Nevet’s itch, I’ll offer these thoughts that (may?) balance expectations a bit more.
- Major League Soccer is not the North American Soccer League; it’s a fully functioning league that has a strong foothold across the country.
- Across the pitch the level of technical skills and mentality of players is higher in MLS; said differently, the amount of mistakes (both technical and mental) are fewer in MLS than NASL.
- The length of the season is longer in MLS and there’s no mid-season break to reassess.
- The schedule is un-balanced in MLS.
- Good or bad, Portland plays Vancouver and Seattle three times a year – no other derby in MLS has three stronger teams playing against each other three times.
- With the departure of Chivas USA there are no ‘soccer mules’ in MLS – yes there are some weaker teams but those weaknesses don’t really become apparent until a third of the season is completed.
- Controlled possession based soccer is not a popular style for most teams in MLS; for the most part teams can’t afford to have those higher skilled players on the pitch.
- MLS screams of parity, NASL doesn’t.
- The home team, in the last four years, wins about 66% of the time.
- We don’t know who Gio’s assistant coaches will be.
- When you’re a head coach having assistants who speak your thoughts (maybe with different words) is critical to your success – especially when working muscle memory mentality.
- Also critical to coaching success is having at least one assistant who thinks differently than you, as the head coach. Surrounding yourself with people who think like you is folly – a balance in leadership is just as critical as a balance in style of play.
Those thoughts (may?) not scratch the itch but maybe my first point of evaluation on Gio will.
If the loan agreement of Lucas Melano allows it, I’d expect Lucas Melano to be at spring training this coming year.
Caleb failed to get the best out of Lucas for one reason or another and the Timbers look to have wasted a considerable sum of money on him.
Here’s what I offered about Lucas Melano some time ago.
If Gio can reverse that, and get Lucas to add value, then it’s a success for Lucas, the team, the front office, and Gio. A win-win-win-win…. there is no downside.
If it doesn’t work you’re where you are today; a lesson learned on how not to scout and sign a player.
I know if I were in Gio Savarese’s shoes I’d certainly want to test my (and my teams’) mettle/ability to get the best out of Lucas; it’d be rude not to.
However viewed, when opening day comes we’ll see (and hear) the Timbers Army (and everyone else) give Gio Savarese a spine tingling roar of support.