Tagged: Seattle

MLS Playoffs – Predictions with Purpose (Updated)

To the chase…  my PWP Predictability Index leveraging my Possession with Purpose Analysis.  Click here for my latest revision or click here to read the initial revision.

NOTE:  Updates for the Red Bulls v DC United and Sounders v Dallas match are at the end of the article.

The Predictability Index itself is the CPWP Index data minus Goals Scored / Goals Against and is split into two diagrams – Home Predictability versus Away Predictability.

Here’s the CPWP Strategic Predictability Index for teams at Home:

CPWP PREDICTABILITY INDEX END OF SEASON 2014 HOME

Here’s the CPWP Strategic Predictability Index for teams Away from Home.

CPWP PREDICTABILITY INDEX END OF SEASON 2014 AWAY

Note the significant differences in how the teams are predicted to perform at home versus on the road; four teams really sucked at home this year, while four teams were expected to perform quite well on the road.  

Here’s how it works; I will compare the two digit number of the home team with the two digit number of the away team.

Whichever number is higher it’s that team which is predicted to win… again… based upon their history of team performance in overall attacking and defending, exclusive of goals scored; this year.

And now the PWP Predictions:

FC Dallas versus Vancouver Whitecaps matchup.  FC Dallas at Home (0.00) while Vancouver on the Road (-.11)  FC Dallas wins.

FC Dallas key indicators are ceding possession and creating quick counter-attacking scenarios that use time and space created by Vancouver being too aggressive in attack.

Vancouver key indicators are maintaining patience in possession and not losing position in defending – they are one of the top defending teams in MLS; they will need to be at their best to beat Dallas.

Next up; New York Red Bulls versus Sporting Kansas City.  New York at Home (0.10) while Sporting Kansas City on the Road (0.05) New York wins.

New York key indicators are their attack from a number of different angles.  They are simply one of the top attacking teams in all of MLS – they need to attack, attack, attack, and hope, with all their hope, that they can keep Sporting KC from scoring a goal.

Sporting KC key indicators are their ability to defend; they are still one of the best defending teams in MLS.  If they can control the wide open attack, I’d expect from New York, and their propensity for fouling in their own defending final third, I can see some individual talent from Zusi or some set-pieces giving them the edge to win.

Columbus Crew versus New England Revolution.  Columbus Crew at Home (0.06)  while New England on the Road (-0.08).  Columbus wins game 1.  Columbus Crew on the Road (0.06) while New England at Home (0.23) -> New England wins game 2.  I offer Columbus advances over New England on away goal difference.

Columbus key indicators include being one of the most consistent teams in overall attacking and defending team performance in MLS – with this being a two game set I’d imagine consistency in attacking and penetration as well as consistency in defending the danger spaces will see them through.

New England key indicators are slightly changed with Jones on the pitch – his leadership may give the edge to a Revolution team who are, in my opinion, outgunned in almost every other category.  They are a big under-dog in my opinion but not everybody rates Columbus as strongly as I do…

Real Salt Lake versus LA Galaxy.   Salt Lake at Home (0.33)  while LA Galaxy on the Road (0.12).  RSL wins game 1.   LA Galaxy at Home (0.19)  while Salt Lake on the Road (-0.01).  LA Galaxy wins game 2.  I offer LA Galaxy advance over Real Salt Lake on away goals difference.  

Salt Lake key indicators include, as noted, a stingy defense at home and a propensity to win in Rio Tinto.  They also have pedigree not unlike LA Galaxy, and perhaps an even more veteran line-up when it comes to big games.  Lest we forget Salt Lake could have done much better last year and didn’t – they will have added energy that might surpass the emotions LA bring with them in pushing to help Donovan raise the Cup once more.

LA Galaxy key indicators are pace, possession, penetration and all around purpose that operated at peak performance for almost the entire year.  It should be noted that they didn’t collect the silverware last week and in all likelihood they could stumble here as well as they may look past Real and consider the Cup is theirs…  So arrogance is an enemy as is the continued lack of mental awareness by Gonzalez…

More to follow after the games midweek after seeing who qualifies to play Seattle and DC United…

As for my own personal predictions I can see New York advancing as well as FC Dallas but the Vancouver defense is very good as is the Sporting KC defense.

I will go with Sporting over New York and Vancouver over FC Dallas because I think those team defenses are better – and for me it’s all about defense.

With respect to Columbus – I agree with my PWP Prediction model for that game as well as the game between LA and RSL…  and in this case I also happen to think the defenses for Columbus and LA are better.

More to follow:…

Seattle Sounders at Home (.22) while Dallas on the Road (-.20).  Seattle wins when playing at Home.  FC Dallas at Home (.00) while  Seattle on the Road (-.04).  FC Dallas wins at home.  Seattle advances on away goals difference.

For me, I can see Seattle beating FC Dallas at home and on the road.  Dallas may be a bit tired for game 1 and the Predictability Index hasn’t been built to address ‘tired legs’…

At the end of the day this should be a clean sweep for the Sounders…

DC United at Home (.03) while New York on the Road (-.03).  DC United wins at Home.  New York at Home (.10) while DC United on the Road (-.08).  New York wins at Home.  New York advances on away goals difference.

For me I can see a clean sweep here as well – it may be surprising but I can see New York, riding the wave of Phillips and, most likely, the last season for Thierry Henry, all the way into the Finals.  This is not intended to diss DC United.

They are a very good team but somehow I don’t see the ‘tired legs’ syndrome impacting the Red Bulls as much as Dallas… too much at stake for a team that has invested huge money in their players and program.

Best, Chris

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Are Seattle Sounders and Sporting KC simply too strong?

Plenty of action these past two weeks in Major League Soccer – the most telling is the huge lead in points that Seattle holds over all the other teams in a very competitive Western Conference.

Not to be outdone, in the Eastern Conference, it appears Sporting KC have also begun to open up an insurmountable lead – especially with that victory against LA Galaxy yesterday.

Are these teams so good, compared to the others, that the Playoffs are merely a warm-up session for what might be one of the most exciting MLS Championship games ever?

It’s hard to latch onto that view, this early, so in working through my Possession with Purpose (PWP) Indices and their supporting key indicators, I’ll let you decide.

For your consideration:

  • PWP Attack as of Week 19 & PWP Attacking Predictability looking forward past Week 19
  • PWP Defense as of Week 19 & PWP Defending Predictability looking forward past Week 19
  • Composite PWP as of Week 19 & CPWP Predictability looking forward past Week 19

To begin the Attacking (APWP Index excluding the CUSA v DCU game)…

APWP INDEX WEEK 19 MLS

APWP INDEX WEEK 19 MLS

Both Seattle and Sporting are in the top five for how effective their teams have been in attack; others present include LA Galaxy, FC Dallas, and the New York Red Bulls.

Yet when looking at the internal key indicators there are a number of teams that remain productive; with at least 14 games remaining, for most teams, Columbus lead the league in Passing Accuracy at 80.64%; while LA Galaxy, Vancouver, Real Salt Lake, Sporting, and Portland all hover over 78%.

In terms of penetration per possession, probably the most intriguing of all the statistics, New England lead, by a wide margin, with 30%; while Houston, Philadelphia, LA Galaxy, and Real Salt Lake round out the top 5.

Both Sporting and Seattle rest in the tail end of this indicator at 21.65% and 20.79% respectively.  Other teams doing well this year in attack, but at the lower end of penetration, also include Portland, Columbus, DC United, Colorado, and DC United.

In my view this indicator (in attack) is heavily influenced by the defensive approach of the opponent – or – the attacking approach of the team.  

Only three of the top ten teams in this category average greater than 50% possession and, again, only four of the top ten teams in this category average greater 78% passing accuracy.

It would appear that teams who spend a greater percentage of their possession within the opponents Defending Final Third do so as a result of more direct attacking than possession based attacking.

And when it comes to scoring goals only three of the top eight teams are in the top half of all teams that score goals.

As for the two teams with the lowest goals scored per game – well both San Jose and Montreal are not only the worst in goals per game they are also the worst in penetration per possession; so when your poor you’re really poor.

As for Goals Scored, Seattle lead the league in goals scored per game (1.94); with Portland, New York and FC Dallas at (1.6); others following close behind include Philadelphia (1.57), LA Galaxy, Toronto FC and Vancouver all tied at 1.53 with Colorado (1.47) and Sporting KC rounding out the top ten at 1.45.

Clearly there are plenty of teams in this league who have strong averages in goals scored; the difference maker for this category is how well those same teams behave in defense.

Here’s the Defending (DPWP) Index after Week 19 (excluding the CUSA v DCU game):

DPWP INDEX WEEK 19 MLS

DPWP INDEX WEEK 19 MLS

Like in the APWP Index, both Seattle and Sporting KC are in the top five – the big surprise here for me is where San Jose falls in this Index; it’s pretty clear that if they had an effective Attack, and could score goals, they would be in the Playoff race big time.

Others showing well include LA Galaxy (again); Colorado, Columbus, and DC United.

On the tail end it’s Chicago, Montreal, Houston and a much improving Chivas USA.

In terms of looking at the internal key indicators Opponents of Sporting have the worst passing accuracy, averaging just 71.81% per game, Real, Portland, Philadelphia, Chicago, DC United, New England, San Jose, and Colorado all, also, hold their opponents under 76% passing accuracy per game.

With respect to penetration, that tricky category that can be leveraged in so many ways, the leader in allowing opponent penetration this year is Portland (25.97%) with Real Salt Lake a close second (25.08%) followed by FC Dallas, Vancouver, LA Galaxy, DC United and Toronto FC; all ceding greater roughly 23% of their opponents possession into penetration.

I offer this because some teams like to cede some amount of penetration in order to maximize opportunities for quick counter attacks – that can pay off at times but in the case of Portland, this year, it has completely backfired.  Even after this weekend they still have the 3rd worst Goals Against in the league – ceding PK’s hasn’t helped.

But in comparison to LA Galaxy, who has ceded penetration almost as much as Portland, their own Goals Against sits at .94 (2nd best in MLS this year)…

As for Seattle and Sporting?

Sporting cedes the 2nd lowest amount of penetration into their own defending third while Seattle cede the 4th lowest amount of penetration.

In terms of ‘payoff’ (for that stingy final third defense) Sporting has the lowest Goals Against in MLS (.9 per game) while Seattle has the 8th lowest in Goals Against (1.33 per game).

From a ‘top of the table viewpoint’ it would appear stingy is good when it comes to minimizing opponent penetration.

So how do things show for the Composite (CPWP) Index so far (Excluding the CUSA v DCU game today)?

CPWP INDEX WEEK 19 MLS

CPWP INDEX WEEK 19 MLS

Like the APWP and DPWP Index, both Seattle and Sporting are in the top five – but – so are the LA Galaxy…  (all you need to do is make the playoffs…)

As for the statistical correlations after 19 weeks?

The APWP Correlation to Points in the League Table is (R2) .64; DPWP is (-.57) and CPWP is (.72).

Goal Differential (always the best single indicator) is (.87) while Goals Scored is (.70) and Goals Against is (-.63).

All told, the CPWP Index continues to remain a better overall Team Performance Index than Goals Scored and/or Goals Against.

Before closing here’s the CPWP Predictability Index (CPWP PI)…

CPWP PREDICTABILITY INDEX WEEK 19 MLS

CPWP PREDICTABILITY INDEX WEEK 19 MLS

An important caveat here; there is a clear difference in how teams perform on the road versus at home – it should be noted that Sporting KC, Chivas USA, Philadelphia, Chicago (And up until yesterday Portland) have all taken more points on the road than at home…

As a reminder the CPWP PI uses the same PWP key indicators with one exception (Goals Scored versus Shots on Goal)…

So while Sporting has the best (home and away) CPWP PI,  the team with the best Away CPWP PI is Columbus, with LA Galaxy, Sporting, Portland and Real Salt Lake rounding out the top five.

In home games Sporting, Seattle, New England, Vancouver, and Colorado round out the top five.

What’s that mean when a team has a high predictability rating and a low points total?  

I think it’s a great indicator of defensive mistakes and/or poor finishing – defensive mistakes when the team has a higher average of Goals Scored and poor finishing when a team has a lower average of Goals Against…

In other words when a team is performing at their best they should have a high Goals Scored and a low Goals Against.

If they already have a low Goals Against then the gap is Goal Scoring…. if they have a high Goals Scored then the gap is Goals Against….

Results versus Expected Results… (CPWP – CPWP PI)…

Overachieving teams – teams that have a higher CPWP than CPWP PI include FC Dallas, DC United, Colorado, LA Galaxy and Columbus Crew – in other words these teams are getting results when the balance of the other PWP Key indicators don’t necessarily point to great results.

A great example here might be where DC United have 13 points from five games where the opponent has given them a PK.

Underachieving teams – teams that have a higher CPWP PI than CPWP include Chicago, Chivas, Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto – in other words these teams are “showing” all the indications of teams that generally do well but aren’t doing well – this could be a great indicator of bad luck or some other issue where something goes pear-shaped.

What’s intriguing for me as a Portland Timbers supporter is the CPWP Index is higher than the CPWP PI; which reinforces my view that the poor results this year are not ‘one-off defensive mistakes’ but a compilation of a more systematic issue with the overall defending…  with the addition of Liam Ridgewell in the back-four perhaps that helps turn the ship towards greater success?

In closing…

Yes, Seattle and Sporting KC are doing well, not only from a ‘table standpoint’ but from a ‘team performance standpoint’; in the overachieving versus underachieving category both teams hover pretty close to zero – in other words the results they get match the expected results they should get…

Best, Chris

 

Week 17 in MLS (2013 versus 2014) PWP; And what about DC United this year?

Over a year has passed since my first broad strokes about Possession with Purpose were applied to Major League Soccer; since then we’ve had one full year to look at it and how things have played out.

So how do things stack up today versus Week 17 last year, and, is something going on with DC United (besides the new strikers) that is different this year?

To begin; here’s a look at the teams after 17 weeks in 2013:

CPWP INDEX AFTER 17 GAMES IN 2013

CPWP INDEX AFTER 17 GAMES IN 2013

The top five Western Conference teams were Portland, Real Salt Lake, LA Galaxy, Vancouver and Seattle; the only team not to make the Playoffs last year was Vancouver.

Upon reflection, it was their defense that let them down, and the most probable reason why Martin Rennie got sacked.

In looking at the top five Eastern Conference teams they were Sporting KC, New England, New York, Montreal, and Houston – the same top five teams that eventually made the Playoffs.

So how about this year?

CPWP INDEX End of Week 17

CPWP INDEX End of Week 17

In looking at the Eastern Conference teams, the top five are Sporting KC, Columbus Crew, DC United, New England and New York – the odd one out, at the moment, is Toronto vice Columbus.

It should be noted that Toronto also have at least two, and no less than four, games in hand – so it’s not exactly “apples to apples yet” but should be in about 3 weeks time. As for the Western Conference, the top five so far are LA Galaxy, Seattle, Colorado, Portland, and FC Dallas.

Again the games in hand vary somewhat.

The HUGE, if not inordinately large question here is… Can the Portland Timbers turn their defensive nightmare of a season around with a healthy Norberto Paparatto, Pa Madou Kah and newly signed Liam Ridgewell, for three solid center-backs?  And, if so, does that fix the defensive issues?

Now an even tougher question…

Is the level of accuracy, last year, to be expected this year (nine for ten in teams last year making the Playoffs, based upon 17 games of data)?

I’m not so sure… And a good reason for that is the emerging clarity on how effective some teams have become (this year) in winning or drawing games with less possession…

In other words, playing to a counterattacking style, that sees some teams offering the opponent higher levels of possession, penetration, and shots taken.

So is there another way to try and answer the question about accuracy in the CPWP Index?

How about the CPWP Predictability Index – what does that offer after Week 17?

CPWP Predictability Index Week 17

CPWP Predictability Index Week 17

In looking at the CPWP PI, the numbers seem to indicate that Sporting KC, Columbus, New England, New York and Philadelphia have the best chances of winning, given historical team performances this year.

So the PI sees Philadelphia with an edge over Toronto… (reminder – TFC have four games in hand though)…

And does that Head Coach change, where Curtin is now in charge over Hackworth, reflect the Hackworth predictability of Philadelphia or the Curtin predictability of Philadelphia?  More to follow on that in a later article for sure…

As for the Western Conference; LA leads with Colorado, Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland – that sees FC Dallas dropping out with a smaller chance of winning and Vancouver sliding in…

And yet, neither Index has Real Salt Lake in the top five – could that be? Has the loss of Saborio, Beckerman and Rimando impacted RSL that much in such a short time span; and what does that say for the second half of the season? Lots of questions with no answers yet…

Now… take a look how far down DC United are in the Predictability Index (5th worst predictability in winning) – might that indicate how fortunate they have been in scoring goals or is that a reflection of something else going on?

DC United have the second best Goals Scored versus Shots on Goal of all the teams in MLS (42.12%); FC Dallas lead MLS in that category with 44.26%. Clearly the addition of Espindola and Johnson (even if they don’t play together) has added extreme value to this team.

Especially when their percentage for this same statistic, last year, was just 16.66% I wonder what the Expected Goals look like for DC United and how their shot locations may have changed this year compared to last year? Perhaps one or two folks who specialize in Expected Goals can help answer that one?

I did check to see if they have been awarded more PK’s than other teams – no – only 2 PK’s awarded so far this year.

As for Opponent Red Cards?

Perhaps that has created a positive influence in Goals Scored? Their opponents have had 5 Red Cards this year (two by FC Dallas in one game) – that is tied for 3rd highest (best/most advantageous) in MLS.

Has that helped?  I think so…

DC United have 10 points in the four games where their opponent has been red-carded and nine of their 24 Goals Scored have come from those games.

So, in retrospect – if the opponent’s for DC United “play-fair” it is (likely?) that will negatively impact DC United in the League Table.

That’s one advantage of the CPWP PI – it is not ‘doubly’ influenced by opponents being Red or Yellow Carded – it’s strictly five of the six primary data points of PWP.

In closing…

Still plenty to play for and any team, and I mean any team, can get on a winning streak – just look at Chivas USA their last three games.

How all the ‘defensive bunkering’ folds into the PWP Indices and Predictability outcomes has yet to play out. When every team reaches 17 games I’ll regenerate this article with updated information.

Best, Chris

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…