Tagged: Houston

Chicago Fire – Candle Burned at Both Ends

I’ve heard rumor that the Chicago Fire are looking to add two Designated Players to their squad this off-season – in my view – it’ll take a whole lot more than that.

In my End of Season analysis here’s some statistics, key indicators and observations for your consideration.

In case you missed it – it should model my previous article on the Fire much earlier this year:  On Fire – or a Candle Burning at Both Ends.

After working through the info I’ll also offer my thoughts, for your consideration, on some changes that may need to happen to make this team more competitive.

To set the tone here’s my standard Index rating for Chicago (CFSC) compared to other teams in MLS:

CPWP STRATEGIC INDEX END OF SEASON 2014 COMBINED

Note where Chicago line-up in my Index – near bottom – alongside that team who was relegated (erh… disbanded).

If you haven’t seen this Index before here’s a link to some simplified explanations.

If you are a statistics type person know that the Index has a direct correlation to average points earned in the MLS League Table (without using points in the calculations) {R2} of .85.

Now for the Grist… points per game both home and away for Chicago this year.  

Chicago earned 1.06 points per game (PPG) this year – 5th worst in Major League Soccer.

Results like that when Porter came in to replace Spencer saw at least 14 players moved out (quickly) and eventually 9 new starters – is it likely the Fire JUST bring on two new DP’s?

When playing at home – the easiest place to play in MLS – their PPG was 1.35 – tied for 3rd worst in MLS.

They had four wins at home, 11 draws, and two losses.

In the big scheme of things – home teams in MLS this year won 151 games – out of 19 teams – the number of wins Chicago had at home represented just 2.65% of those victories.

When playing away from home – their PPG was .76 – tied for 4th worst in MLS.

In their ten losses they averaged .90 goals per game (GPG); in their 18 draws they averaged 1.11 GPG; and in their six wins they averaged 2 GPG.

All told they averaged just 1.21 goals per game – eight games with 2 goals, 1 game with 3 goals, and 1 game with 5 goals – shutout seven times with 17 games where only one goal was scored.

Bottom line here – they really couldn’t win at home or on the road.

Do you even want to know how things looked from a Goals Against standpoint?  Probably not so to simplify (save space) – their overall Goal Differential was -10, with it being a -12 on the road.

Now for the team Attacking and Defending performance indicators with the Defending PWP Strategic Index first:

DPWP STRATEGIC INDEX END OF SEASON 2014 COMBINED

For me this is where the real grist is offered on just how poor the Fire team performance was compared to others in MLS. 

In walking through this information will there be just one key indicator that spells out the reason for bad results, or will there be multiple indicators?  Let’s find out:

Opponent possession – 54.66% – 2nd highest in MLS (in away games 55.71% – at home 52.92%).

Pretty much either way you cut it the Fire ceded possession, either by design of by default.

Not a negative indicator, by any stretch, as many teams ceded possession and did well this year – but given the low PPG – it should be a concern that there may have been many gaps in this team besides one or two DP’s.

Opponent Passing Accuracy –  78.05% – 7th highest in MLS (in away games 78.76% – at home 77.33%).

So, with a good amount of possession the opponents also seemed to be pretty successful in completing their passes across the entire pitch.

What might help shape that opponent possession is this – outside the final third opponents averaged 82.67% passing accuracy – while inside the Fire, final third, they averaged 63.79%.

It would appear that the Fire, regularly, and systematically, in both home and away games ceded space outside their defending final third.

Unlike the Timbers, when they got their defense in gear, it did not translate to a lower goals against.

Given that, it would seem reasonable that there are more issues in the defensive supporting cast in the midfield as well as in the back four itself; more to follow.

Opponent Penetration per Possession – 20.90% – 4th lowest in MLS (in away games 21.86% at home 19.93%) both 4th worst in MLS.

Overall it would appear that a higher line was employed to try to minimize initial penetration – we have seen that tactic used by Hackworth (before being sacked) and by Porter (before realigning his defensive tactics).

In looking at both home and away games spread throughout the season it does not appear that the Fire changed tactics.

So keeping in mind the terrible Goals Against this year – this information continues to reinforce that even with minimal penetration the opponents were still able to put the ball into the back of the net.  

Opponent Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession – 17% – 6th lowest in MLS (in away games 18.41% – at home 15.58%).

In studying other teams this year – those that have higher passing accuracy percentages seem to have lower percentages in this category – intuiting patience in creating time and space to score goals.

What is intriguing here is that this same pattern showed itself with Philadelphia before they dropped deeper.  In other words – once penetration was gained the opponent wasn’t likely to lose it and a result of that shows taking more time to offer up a shot as opposed to systematically looking to hurry the shots.

I’d offer that if the opponent was hurrying their shots they would take them more frequently and be less accurate.  So were the opponents more or less accurate in putting their shots taken on goal?

Opponent Shots on Goal per Shots Taken – 38.76%- 2nd highest in MLS (in away games 37.95% – at home  39.58%).

It would appear that the opponents were more accurate…

As anticipated – based upon other team outputs – their defensive tactics (in probably playing a bit higher up the defensive side of the pitch) didn’t work.

Is that down to player selection, player availability, player talent/skills or the Head Coach?

Hard to say – but in considering the length of time Frank Yallop has coached in the MLS it would seem reasonable that some adjustments might have been made along the way like you can see with the Timbers in this article – or the Union in this article.

Opponent Goals Scored per Shots on Goal – 37.18% – 3rd worst in MLS (in away games 38.53% – at home 35.82%).

So the tale of the tape is the Fire ceded possession outside their defending final third – appear to have played a high defensive line to try to minimize damaging penetration and while minimizing penetration it also opened up their defense for an even worse overall team performance.

That doesn’t even address what communication issues/tactical issues occurred between their Goal Keeper and back four.

In summation – like the wholesale changes the Timbers made when Porter replaced Spencer – I’d expect wholesale changes for the Fire on the defending side of the pitch.  In my opinion they probably need two DP’s, alone, on the defending end of the ball and a completely new tactical approach as well…

That’s probably been pretty painful for the Fire supporters and I hesitate to offer up team performance in attack; but alas – this is an End of Season analysis – so chocks away on the Attacking PWP Strategic Index:

APWP STRATEGIC INDEX END OF SEASON 2014 COMBINED

Not as depressing as the defending side of the pitch – but to be real here – they were 4th worst overall in team attacking.  

So without further ado how good were Chicago in the same categories against their opponents were against them?

Possession – 45.68% – 2nd lowest in MLS (in away games 44.29% – at home 47.08%).

As noted in DPWP; the Fire ceded possession, either be design of by default.

Given both home and away games are below 50% it is likely the Fire did not really alter their attacking style (like Seattle has shown) when playing at home versus on the road.

Again, not a negative indicator, but additional attacking performance information should shine more light on whether they altered their tactics playing in different locations.

It is interesting to note that their average (home) possession percentage against Houston was 56.23% – and even against DC United it was 53.86%.

So it does appear some tactical things were occurring in playing those two teams – whether that was driven by Chicago Or Houston/DC United it hard to say.

But I would offer that both Houston and DC United averaged less than 50% possession this year – so it’s not unreasonable to assume that the change in possession against those two teams was more a function of those teams and not the Fire/Yallop.  Others may have a different view?

Passing Accuracy –  74.03% – 2nd worst in MLS (in away games 72% – at home 76.07%).

So an increase in passing accuracy at home; in looking at total passes offered.

The difference in passing accuracy is pretty much down to the Fire offering up more passes outside their attacking final third.  In other words – their average passes in the attacking final third are the same for both home and away games.

Which means the increase in passing accuracy is attributed to passes completed in a less dangerous area – i.e. – those of smaller value.

I suppose it needs to be said here, first, a low passing accuracy usually means one to three things – the team looks to offer longer passes that are less likely to be completed – or – the team doesn’t really have the skilled players or head coach direction to play a shorter, quicker passing game.  For now I’d offer it’s a combination of the three without knowing additional information.

Penetration per Possession – 23.20% – 8th highest in MLS (in away games 23.29% – at home 23.11%).

Their percentage of penetration is pretty high here; mixing with Portland, Vancouver, Seattle, LA Galaxy, Sporting KC, and New York.

So it would appear that the Fire looked to match penetration with the bigger boys in attack – that does seem to indicate that the attacking midfield was doing a pretty good job – but – it can also be deceptive as we know some teams looked to play a bit deeper in order to tighten space within their final third.

That deeper play results in the attacker having a higher percentage of penetrating possession at times.

Those better attacking teams were usually more accurate in their passing once they entered the final third – and that accuracy then translated to higher success rates in shots on goal and goals scored.  Meaning – they had forward talent to match the midfield talent in penetration and creation.

Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession – 20.48% – 3rd highest in MLS (in away games 17.45% – at home 23.50%).

Their home percentage was the highest in MLS – In considering outputs from other teams, this year, it would appear that the Fire were far less patient in generating shots taken given their overall penetrating possession.

Another factor here is the passing accuracy within the final third – for the Fire it was 61.28% (the 2nd lowest in MLS).

This information, coupled with a higher than normal shots taken per penetration, seems to support a more direct attacking approach – one that is less patient and more concerned about getting the shot off instead of taking a bit more time to create that extra time and space.

In looking back to my last observation, about having forward talent to match the attacking midfield talent, they might have that, but it would appear that the tactical approach to play more direct may have had more influence?  I suppose the lights will shine a bit better if their ability to score is higher…

Shots on Goal per Shots Taken – 35.95%- mid-table in MLS (in away games 37.02% – at home  34.87%).

The 34.87% is the 7th lowest in MLS – and that coupled with the lower than normal passing accuracy, plus the higher rate of shots taken per penetration seems to point, again, to a team playing more direct and taking less time on the ball.

In other words, (perhaps?)  the skill level of the players, or the tactical approach by the head coach, simply didn’t get the job done in putting shots on goal.

Goals Scored per Shots on Goal – 29.55% – 8th worst in MLS (in away games 31.96% – at home 27.14%).

An intriguing piece of info here might be this – when playing away from home, they had 6% fewer shots per penetration, and they put more of those shots taken on goal (31.96%) and had a much higher percentage of scoring a goal based upon those reduced penetrations (31.96%).

That is a similar pattern to many good attacking teams – except when it came to actually scoring the goal…

All told, they also had the 8th worst Goals Scored on the road (1.12) – which could be reasoned to (perhaps again?) three things, either a poor tactical approach in looking to score more goals on the road – not having good enough players to execute the tactical approach of the head coach, or three – having the wrong tactical approach for the players on the team?

In Closing:

Like the wholesale changes the Timbers made when Porter replaced Spencer – I’d expect wholesale changes for the Fire on the attacking side of the pitch too.

In my opinion they probably need at least one DP on the attacking end of the pitch to go with the two defending DP’s on the other end of the pitch.

This will cost money, big money – and I’d also expect to hear about 10-15 changes in the roster – a similar outcome to the Timbers a couple of years ago.

This (could) probably include a new goal keeper, three new defenders, two to three new midfielders and perhaps a new striker; for starters.

I offer the potential for a new Goal Keeper based upon considering the actions taken by Portland during the Spencer to Porter shift – there was a house cleaning of sorts and although Troy Perkins was a popular player – he was moved – and I think at that time, Perkins had  a better Save percentage then (69%) than Sean Johnson did this year.

Finally, in 2012 Sean Johnson had a 76% save percentage, in 2013 that had dropped to 70% – and this year it has dropped even further to 64%.

I wonder if the team makes up more ground next year by adopting a different tactical approach and trying to make better use of the talent they currently have.

And here’s a $4 Million Dollar question – if Yallop continues to play (apparently)  more direct, as opposed to the shorter, quicker passing game others are using exactly where is he going to get 2-3 DP’s who work more in a direct style attack than counter-attacking, quicker, shorter attack?

It’s my guess that the Chicago Fire Front Office did not expect, nor bargain, to have to completely rebuild this team under Frank Yallop.

And I’d offer they should have known something like this might happen given the poor run of success his tactical approach had in San Jose before he got sacked.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp.com

 

 

 

Disheveled Defense has Dominic’s Dynamo in Disarray

Orange uniforms are normally considered a great color for a couple of reasons – the first team that ever comes to mind when you see Orange are the Dutch, (Holland/Netherlands) and if you watched the World Cup 2014 they reinforced just how strong and (to be feared) the men in Orange should be.

Another, less obvious reason for Orange is simply this – the color stands out on a green pitch – the more your team uniform stands out, from the pitch, the more likely you are to pick out your teammate just a tad bit quicker…  that’s why I never get why teams choose Green!

However you view the kit color doesn’t matter today.

What matters is trying to better understand the weaknesses that have a strangle hold on Houston and what things supporters of the Orange might want to track in hopes that their results improve.

Hopefully, as I walk through my Possession with Purpose, and supporting data analyses, I can show where weaknesses exist, and then in turn offer potential opportunities for improvement.

Bottom line up front (BLUF) = To be clear – The frequency of opponent penetration into the Dynamo defending third has absolutely nothing to do with their current issues.

The Dynamo have ceded the 5th lowest amount of overall penetration of any team in MLS this year – 1st lowest in ceding volume of penetration is…  Sporting KC, 2nd lowest is Chivas USA and 3rd lowest is New York.

On it’s own the statistic is not a good indicator but when viewing outputs of team indicators it may help derive other weaknesses.

So what drives the Dynamo down the path of a destruction in defense?

In short – team execution – here’s some examples of how Houston is executing in some key defensive areas compared to others in MLS…

  1. Houston are 8th worst in opponent shots on goal becoming goals and -18 in Goals Differential – the most effective, single, statistical indicator in Soccer with an R2 of .83 (the closer to 1.0 the better the relationship).
  2. Houston are 5th worst in garnering ‘off-side’ calls against their opponent as they penetrate – in other words the statistical appearance of ‘trapping the opponent’ in an off-side position isn’t there.  Basically translating to the back-four not being very well organized in function as well as communication; Sporting KC – on the other hand – are 5th best.
  3. Houston are 6th worst in committing fouls within their own Defending Final Third – basically they are doing the same thing as Portland – beating themselves.  Obviously the more set-pieces they give their opponent the more opportunities their opponent has for jamming the 18 yard box with bodies.  This statistic alone could render that 5th fewest penetrations per possession by their opponents useless.
  4. Houston are the 2nd worst team in conceding Penalty Kicks; again like committing fouls in their own defending third, they don’t discriminate – they also make a habit of committing fouls in their own 18 yard box.  This not only speaks to poor tackling habits it also speaks to having a habit of being out of position – somewhat of the same ilk as being poor in trapping the opponent in off-side positions.  This statistic ‘alone’ does render the low volume of opponent penetration useless.
  5. Houston are 3rd worst in preventing their opponent from offering up successful crosses – bascially meaning they are pretty good at allowing the opponent to deliver crosses into the 18 yard box as a way to generate shots taken.
  6. Houston are 3rd worst in the frequency of defensive clearances.  What magnifies this issue even more is the Dynamo being 3rd worst in preventing successful crosses.  In other words a superb reason why their opponent’s are so successful in delivering crosses is directly related to how poor they are in clearing those crosses.  Issues like this are usually due to two reasons – sometimes unrelated – 1) the fullbacks and or outside midfielders simply don’t close down the wings appropriately – or 2) the centerbacks and fullbacks at the near/far post are in a poor position to clear the cross.  Both bad and both correctable – but usually with new players; especially if it’s a habit repeated over 19 games.

Houston have the worst Defending Possession with Purpose Index number of any team in MLS… here’s where they stand with respect to the  six process steps in the DPWP Index:

  1. Opponent Percentage of Possession = 51.37% (7th highest opponent possession) – in other words Houston cede possession and are therefore not very good at possessing the ball with the intent to possess and control the flow of the game + possessing the ball with the intent to possess – in other words if the opponent doesn’t have the ball that is a good form of defending.
  2. Opponent Passing Accuracy = 78.19% (3rd highest opponent passing accuracy) – in other words the opponent is doing a very good job of moving the ball both inside and outside the Defending Final Third.
  3. Opponent Penetration per Possession = 20.87% (as noted earlier – 5th best in preventing opponent penetration per possession by volume – they are also 5th best by percentage) – in other words, less is better, and the opponents may be working a counter-attacking approach in order to beat Houston given the low volume and low percentage of overall penetration.
  4. Opponent Shots Taken per Penetration = 20.98% (3rd highest opponent success in generating shots taken per possession penetration) – in other words the opponent doesn’t need a high volume of penetration in order to take shots.  The time and space is already there…
  5. Opponent Shots on Goal versus Shots Taken = 38.33% (2nd highest opponent success rate in MLS) – in other words, even with the lower number of shots taken, by their opponents, those shots taken are being directed on goal; meaning (as noted above) the time and space to take those shots is more readily available for the opponent – translating to the back-four – again – being out of position to make those shots taken harder to put on goal.
  6. Opponent Goals Scored versus Shots on Goal = 33.63% (8th highest opponent success rate in MLS) – in other words Tally Hall is actually doing a great job given the amount of time and space the opponents are getting to put shots taken on goal.  At this stage I would offer Tally Hall is probably the only defensive player who is doing their job.
  7. Bottom line at the bottom = > Houston Goals Against are 1.90 per game – the worst in MLS.

In closing…

Yes – the last statistic speaks for itself – but – without the other information to support it you really don’t know exactly why…

I’d offer that the weaknesses aren’t just with one or two players – the defensive scheme is broken and adding DaMarcus Beasley won’t hurt but it might not help that much either.

I would submit the organization may be very short-sighted, indeed, if they think just one player will rectify all the comprehensive defensive issues this team has…

I’d also offer they need additional players, with at least one of them being a Center-back, and (perhaps?) even one of them being a defensive minded midfielder.

Breaking news today (25th of July) Houston Dynamo have just signed a Central Midfielder (Luis Garrido). Here’s what Dominic Kinnear had to say about him in this article posted on MLS Soccer…

“I think he is a good player,” Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said in a club statement. “He has a good amount of bite in the middle of the field, good energy and is a good passer of the ball. We have watched him for a few years in the CONCACAF Champions League and World Cup qualifiers, and he showed well in the World Cup. We think he is a player that will fit in with the way we play and it a good opportunity to bring him here.”

Seems the front office also recognizes that just one player won’t fix the issues in defense…

Trading/Moving Tally Hall would not be a solution to this issue.

Best, Chris

Retweets appreciated.

COPYRIGHT – All Rights Reserved – PWP – Trademark

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

MLS Soccer – Week 14 – The best and worst in Possession with Purpose

Been a really busy past two weeks for me and it’s good to nestle back into a routine offering for your consideration.  That being said I should appropriately note that I met some really superb people this past week at the World Conference on Science and Soccer.

It’s a small world when you meet someone who knows where Thetford, England is – and – has been there before!

Anyhow, I digress, back to American Major League Soccer and the results of Week 14.

There were plenty of surprises again this week, parity gone wild I suppose and none greater for most than Chivas, of all teams, drawing at home, erh, on the road, erh, at home on the road, against LA Galaxy; I’ll bet Arena was pretty upset with that result!

Not to be outdone, New York took three points from New England while Portland finally got a win in Rio Tinto (their third straight road win!) and Sporting spanked spurting Houston.

So who, exactly, after all those games, was the best of the best in attack?

APWP Index Week 14 MLS

APWP Index Week 14 MLS

Vancouver – aye – three goals on the road in Philadelphia saw them just edge out Portland by less than a hundredth of a point – the final difference really came down to having fewer shots on goal while scoring the same amount of goals.

It’s interesting to see that both teams actually had less than 50% of the possession.

In a side discussion, at the WCSS last week, we talked whether or not the Index had a bias towards possession; most seemed to agree that the bias in PWP is towards ‘accuracy’ and perhaps ‘goals scored versus shots on goal’; not possession.

On the bottom end was San Jose, the prototypical direct attacking team, who scored no goals even though 18% of their  11 shots taken were on goal.  Of course that shouldn’t be a surprise though – San Jose are not very good on the road this year – taking just 4 points out of their current 16.  More later on their passing accuracy as well…

So how did things go on the defending side of the ball?

DPWP Index Week 14 MLS

DPWP Index Week 14 MLS

 

The top defending team this week was DC United; holding a very powerful possession based team, Columbus, who had just 10 shots taken with only 2 testing Bill Hamid; bottom line here is that draw for Columbus saw both Toronto and New York leap-frog them into the top five; it probably didn’t help not having Higuain running the attack.

However viewed the real difference maker between Toronto and DC United really came down to DC United playing against a more possession based team who is routinely very accurate in their passing; averaging 79.99%; the best in MLS at this time.  Well done DC United!

Another view is that Toronto was playing against San Jose who was, this week, 3rd worst in overall passing accuracy this week and 2nd worst in passing accuracy after penetrating the Toronto Final Third.

And since we know that Toronto yields the greatest volume of opponent passes in their own defending third it’s a pretty pathetic performance when converting just 53.08% of those passes.

As for the worst in defending this past week; Philadelphia takes the honors.

Vancouver had just 42.11% of the possession while being 5th worst in Final Third Passing Accuracy but they were completely dominating when it came to putting shots on goal and goals scored; 67% and 75% respectively.

In looking at the Composite Possession with Purpose (CPWP) Index….

 

CPWP Index Week 14 MLS

CPWP Index Week 14 MLS

 

For the first time this year Portland has taken those honors – how did they do it?  A good article to read that peels that back a bit is here… some other thoughts not included are…

They had less possession yet were 2nd best this week in passing accuracy across the entire pitch and 3rd best in passing accuracy within the attacking final third.

In addition, Portland put 82% of their shots on goal and scored on 33% of those.

Bottom line on this effort was taking advantage of space and leveraging an increasingly dangerous Fenando Adi; a true target #9 with nous and deceptively brilliant foot/heading skills!

Saying that is not to diminish the value of Sporting and New York also taking 3 points on the road; it was incredible to see New York defeat a very strong home side in New England.

No-one this year has been better at home compared to on the road – and all that without Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill; while also nursing a much-maligned Red Bull back-four.  I wonder if we see Ibrahim Sakagya play central defending midfielder again this year?

As for Sporting KC hadn’t won a game since May 10th against Montreal – so that 2-nil win at BBVA Compass Stadium had great value.

That being Houston is not the team some might think they are.  Their current points total is deceptive; they have played 16 games and have taken just 17 points.  Montreal might be at the bottom of the league standings – but when it comes to the overall CPWP through Week 14 they are higher and they have four games in hand against both Philadelphia and Houston…

Might Frank Klopas be getting things better organized as the mid-point in the season draws near?  I imagine he needs to; it can’t be easy replacing the Head Coach who actually got the Impact into the Playoffs, last year, at the expense of the team you just got fired from.

In closing…

We are nearing the mid-season point and the overall Composite PWP continues to take shape.

For me, it’s still too early to try and leverage PWP as a predictive model (need at least 17 games for each team really) – that being said I might have to purge Goals Scored from the Index to really put it to test – I’ll do that after week 20 and see what the Expected Wins relationship looks like…

Best, Chris

Next Up – MLS Soccer – PWP through Week 14 – Tomorrow…