Tagged: Western Conference

Getting More from Less… Major League Soccer

If you’ve read my previous article on Expected Wins 4 (Is European Football Really Higher Quality than Major League Soccer) you’ll know that there are teams out there who can, and do win, ‘without’ exceeding 50% possession.

In my next evolution of analysis, using the Family of Possession with Purpose Indicators on Major League Soccer, here’s some more granularity to go with that observation.

The filters set up for this effort are pretty simple – five of them to be exact:

  1. Teams who won games in MLS last year with less than 50% Possession,
  2. Teams who won those same games with less than the league average in overall Passing Accuracy (77%) and,
  3. Teams who won those same games with less than the league average in Passing Accuracy within the Opponent’s Defending Final Third (66.8%),
  4. Teams whose volume of Pass Attempts fall below the League Average (428.01), and
  5. Teams whose volume of Pass Attempts, into the Opponents Defending Final Third, fall below the League Average (117.54).

Why this approach?

To highlight what teams, and what volume of games those teams won, where ‘CONTROL’ of the game would most likely be interpretted as ‘minimized’ given a poorer ‘team performance’.

In addition, I also sense it may be a good way to differentiate between teams who use a Counter-Attacking “tactic” as part of their Possession-based game versus a team more inclined to play a Direct Attacking style/system.

The really hard part here is I’m not using video and I don’t have access to X,Y coordinate data – this is all put together using public data.

However viewed I hope you find this interpretation beneficial.

In setting the stage for the teams who did best getting more from less here’s the raw data to consider:

There were 234 games last year where a team won in MLS.

Of those 234 games, 122 of them the winning team had lower than 50% Possession.

In other words, 52.14% of all games won last year saw the winning team possess the ball less than 50% of the time.

Of those 234 games, 70 of them the winning team had less than 50% Possession and less than 77% Passing Accuracy.

In other words, only 29.92% of all games won last year had the winning team performance fall below League average in Possession and Passing Accuracy.

Of those 234 games, 53 of them the winning team had less than 50% Possession, less than 77% Passing Accuracy (across the entire pitch) and less than 66.8% Passing Accuracy in the Opponent’s Defending Final Third.

In other words, only 22.65% of all games won last year had the winning team performance fall below League average in Possession and Passing Accuracy (both within and outside the Opponents Defending Final Third).

By the way, for those curious, in only 19.66% of all games lost this year (234) did the losing team EXCEED the League Average in Possession and Passing Accuracy (both within and outside the Opponent’s Defending Final Third).

So more teams got more from less than teams who got more from more…

Here’s the teams who got more with less, and how many times they were successful in that effort:

MORE FOR LESS BY TEAM 2014

The Red Bars signify Eastern Conference Teams while the Blue Bars show Western Conference Teams (last year).

For now it should be noted that DC United took 24 of 59 Points where they performed far below league average in passing.

In addition, New England also took 21 of their 55 Points in games where they performed far below league average – and six of those seven wins came after Game 25 – in other words after they signed Jermaine Jones!

With respect to Philadelphia – five of their six wins, using this filter, came after Jim Curtin replaced John Hackworth.

In looking at Toronto – all of their five wins, in this fashion, came in the first 11 Games of the season – two things perhaps to consider from this:

  1. Other teams in MLS figured out the counter-attacking/direct attacking nature of the team and changed their defending habits accordingly, or
  2. They had an injury or two that impacted this style of play and, under Nelsen, were unable to recover from a key attacker being missed.

Of note – Chicago recently brought in two DP Strikers – is that a signal to the rest of MLS that Frank Yallop really intends to go all out in this type of attacking approach?

Finally, FC Dallas appeared to be the more counter-attacking/direct attacking team in the Western Conference – and this data appears to substantiate that.

Oscar Pareja’s approach was good enough to make the Playoffs last year – but with Houston (under Owen Coyle) and Sporting, another possession-based team, set to join the Western Conference, might we expect to see Pareja take a different approach next year?

East meeting West:

MORE FOR LESS BY CONFERENCE 2014

Pretty telling if you ask me…

A marked difference in volume of teams that got more with less in the Eastern Conference.

This provides some pretty good evidence to support those having the belief or feeling that the two conferences played different styles…

Now what?

Well, for me, over the past few years I’ve found it pretty hard to differentiate between a team that works towards Direct Attacking, as a style, as opposed to Counter-Attacking.

And to be honest I’m not sure what the difference is; at least up until now.

Here’s my draft definition on how to define a team that Counter Attacks (as a tactic) as opposed to using Direct Attacking (as ‘the’ tactical system/style/approach).

  • The league average for passes attempted across the entire pitch is 428.01.
  • So for the purposes of this effort all teams that fall below that average will be viewed as Counter-Attacking teams until I see that their volume of passes attempted in the Opponent’s Defending Final Third also falls below that League average of 117.54.
  • My rationale is this – a consistent trend of low volume in passes attempted both within and outside the final third indicates to me that the team is attempting to play longer or quicker balls into the final third – that have less chance of being completed – in other words looking to penetrate with less overall control of the ball.
  • I welcome any additional thoughts on this…

In looking at these 52 games:

  • Only one game did the volume of Pass Attempts exceed the League Average of 428.
  • In that one game the volume of Pass Attempts within the Opponents Defending Final Third did not exceed the League Average.
  • DC United had that game.
  • Only 11 games saw the volume of Pass Attempts in the Opponents Defending Final Third exceed the League Average of 117.
  • New England had five of those games, Seattle had one, DC United one, Vancouver one, and Philadelphia three.
  • Therefore in 40 of the 52 games played, using this filter, it would appear that the team that won played Direct Attacking Football.
  • Meaning the teams that performed best in Direct Attacking football were DC United (7), Toronto (5 under Nelsen), Dallas (5), and Chicago (3).

Gut-Check on my Direct Attacking hypothesis – a pretty well known/attributed Direct Attacking team in the English Premier League is West Ham.  

Of their 19 games this year every single game saw their total Pass Attempts fall below the League Average of 426.73.

In 11 of those games their Pass Attempts, within the Opponents Final Third, fell below the League Average of 131.82.

They won seven of those 11 games.

In conclusion, the gut-check pans out – it appears that the outputs from West Ham match those developed based upon what is seen in MLS.

The data also confirms that Sam Allardyce, and his Hammers, are doing a pretty good job of executing that system as well.

In closing:

Doing more with less had a significant advantage for DC United, New England, Philadelphia, and Toronto – all those teams, tops in this filter, are in the Eastern Conference.

This information also supports the views, by many, that the two Conferences are different; the Eastern Conference has more teams that were successful in doing ‘more with less’ and more teams, who were more successful, in their Direct Attacking style/system.

It seems reasonable to me that this is a way for me to better quantify the difference between a team that counter-attacks as a ‘tactic’ versus a team that prefers to play more direct.

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT, All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp

 

Major League Soccer – Week 25 – Portland finally show up…

While most were probably focused on some other battles this past weekend – and rightly so in some cases – the Timbers might just have shaken the Western Conference a wee bit to reinforce, that when they get their defense right, they will be a team to reckon with.

Before diving in though; here’s a link to my pre-match thoughts on all the games this weekend; some thoughts are smack on – while some are way off target; so it goes.

Back to the Timbers.

I don’t offer this lightly, for almost 80% of this season the Timbers defense has been downright deplorable (just three clean sheets) last year they had 10 clean sheets after 25 games.

Only now – with a major shakeup in the back-four, after that resounding Sounders smack-down, have the Timbers acknowledged that defense is first and played like it!

The star of the match, and I don’t do this often since team is always first, was a young lad by the name of Alvas Powell – here’s a great picture of him post game with the ever present, and highly entertaining Pa Madou Kah, in the background – picture courtesy of Little Imp (@stretchiegirl)

So before digging into some specific statistics about the Timbers here’s a link to my post-match article, about that game, and then the Composite PWP Strategic Index for Major League Soccer after 25 weeks:

CPWP INDEX MLS AS OF WEEK 25To begin, for the statistical types, the relationship and correlation of this Strategic Index to Points in the League Table (R2) is .80; pretty good.

One other technical detail that’s probably new for many – the yellow stars indicate which teams have already sacked their manager this year.

I’ll offer up a reminder a bit later on all the stars present at the end of last year.

And if you are interested in some details about why Toronto FC sacked Ryan Nelson – I’ve included this article published by MLSSoccer.com for your reading pleasure.  

To summarize, based upon what I took away from the article, Ryan Nelson was sacked due to poor team performance.  I’m not sure what that means to the Toronto front office but it’s meaning (could?) be intuited based upon this Index.  I’ll leave that for others to decide.

So now on to overall team performance:

LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, and Sporting KC continue to lead the overall CPWP Index – others moving up or staying put in the top half include Columbus, DC United, Portland Timbers, FC Dallas, New England, Real Salt Lake; while New York, Colorado, and Vancouver took slight dips this week.

On the outside, looking in, the list is much shorter.  Of note to me, is that only two of those teams performing on the trailing end are Western Conference teams.

Can some conclusions be drawn from that?  Perhaps – but I’ll save those thoughts for when the season is completed.

Attacking PWP Strategic Index:  

APWP INDEX MLS AS OF WEEK 25

For the statistical types; the R2 between the APWP Strategic Index and Points in the League Table is .74 – that’s also pretty good.

Leading the league are the LA Galaxy (no surprise I’d expect).  On the tail end there’s Chivas and the ever shocking Dynamo, especially for some, after beating Sporting KC this weekend.  Somehow I don’t think Houston is entirely out of the Playoff picture.

With respect to Portland they are sixth best in possession percentage, passing accuracy within the final third, and goals scored per shots on goal – pretty consistent in three critical attacking indicators.

With regards to overall passing accuracy they are in the top ten at 8th best.  When converting possession to penetration they are also 8th best – and in shots on goal per shots taken they are 7th best.

In looking at shots taken, per penetrating possession, (a percentage number usually better when lower than higher to infer patience) they are 11th best.

So all told, in attack, they are very consistent, and good, compared to others.

Their downfall has come in Defending PWP – here’s how the teams stack in that Strategic Index after Week 25:

DPWP INDEX MLS AS OF WEEK 25

For the statistical folks the DPWP Strategic Index R2 is -.66 – again pretty good but there is a tricky quirk about defending.

There remains a challenge in measuring what doesn’t happen (for the attacking team) based upon how the defense plays.

In other words some positional activities that the defense executes are never measured – what gets measured are actual events as opposed to non-events; i.e tackles, interceptions, clearances, etc…

One of my recent articles was published with the intent to push professional soccer statistical companies to begin tracking and differentiating between Open Passes and Hindered Passes, as well as Open Shots and Hindered Shots, to help measure what doesn’t happen.

How?  

“Well an attacking player decides he can’t make a pass to a player in a forward position because the defender has the passing lane closed (hindered) – so the attacker passes elsewhere (an open pass that is unopposed).

In counting the number of Open Passes versus Hindered Passes statistical types can begin to plot maps on what areas the defense is inclined to leave open (cede) versus what areas they are inclined to hinder (defend against).

When graphing those Open Passes versus Hindered Passes you can now infer (statistically measure) what doesn’t happen; i.e the ball is “not being passed successfully here”…

Put another way – if a player has the ability to make an Open Cross – that is completed.  What didn’t happen is the fullback didn’t close on the winger and the center-back didn’t clear the ball.

If the Cross was a hindered cross then the value of defending can be determined even more.  If it was a Hindered Pass that results in a shot taken then the fullback was not positioned properly to block the cross – nor was the center-back positioned correctly to clear the cross…  Again – a statistical measurement of what doesn’t happen…

As a Youth Head Coach that type of information would be extremely critical to know when developing training plans between games…  in considering how much money is involved at the professional level I would have thought the value would be even greater.   Perhaps others may have a different view on that?

I’m not sure how clear that is but I’ll try to provide a few more examples as time passes… for now my early thoughts also include differentiating between an Open Throw-In and Open Cross versus Hindered Throw-In and Hindered Cross.”

Moving on…

In looking specifically at the Portland Timbers this year – they 10th (mid-table) in the DPWP Strategic Index – not bad by all accounts.

In peeling back the Defending Indicators they are 4th best in limiting their opponents passing accuracy (75.73%); they are 6th worst in preventing their opponents from completing passes in their defending final third (66.75%).

In terms of Possession percentage; teams average 47.38% – 6th lowest in MLS.

When looking at opponent shots taken per penetrating possession it’s 8th worst (18.85%)- and the percentage of opponents shots taken being on goal is 9th worst (36.72%).

Most critical (the weakest link it appears) is that the percentage of opponent possession leading to penetration is 26.48% (the worst in MLS).  What this means is that over 25% of the time that the opponent has the ball they penetrate the Timbers final third…  All told the final indicator (goals scored per game) is 3rd worst (1.65).

So how about the game against Vancouver?

  • Vancouver had 45.57% possession – lower than the Timbers average.
  • Vancouver passing accuracy across the entire pitch was 82% – higher than the Timbers average.
  • Vancouver had 73% passing accuracy within the Timbers final third – higher than the Timbers average.
  • Vancouver had 28.49% of their overall possession result in penetrating the Timbers final third – higher than the Timbers average.
  • Vancouver had 10.27% of their shots taken per penetrating possession – lower than the Timbers average.
  • Vancouver had 33.33% of their shots taken being shot on goal – lower than the Timbers average.
  • Vancouver had 0% of their shots on goal result in a goal scored – lower than the Timbers average.

In conclusion:  Here’s what happened in simple terms.  

Portland ceded some space outside and slightly higher, within their defending third, in order to minimize the time and space Vancouver had in having their shots taken end up in the back of the net.

So while Portland didn’t park the bus they did get behind the ball, as much as possible, in an attempt to minimize risk… not rocket science – just good defensive team management.

In Closing:

Every game, for almost every team, is a ‘must win’ at this stage of the season – the ironic thing is that phrase has really been an accurate phrase for every game this season.

The earlier you consistently win games the less ‘must-ful’ they become as the season ends.

The exceptions to this, at this time, are probably Chivas USA and Montreal Impact.

Neither have a credible chance of making the playoffs – so those early season and mid-season games they lost were really their MUST win games – and of course, they didn’t win them.

As promised a reminder on coaching changes from last year; here’s the End of Season CPWP Strategic Index showing all the teams (stars) that had changes in Head Coaches during or after the season:

 End of Season 2013 CPWP Strategic Index

Note that five out of the six worst teams in PWP team performance saw coaching changes – and seven out of the bottom ten.  Will we see that sort of house-cleaning again this year?

Best, Chris

COPYRIGHT – All Rights Reserved.  PWP – Trademark

 

What’s up with the Revolution?

It’s no secret that the New England Revolution have been on a seven game slide – nil pwa has become the routine where three points used to be the norm.

In their first 12 weeks of Major League Soccer the New England Revolution had won seven times, drawn twice and lost just three games; included in that stretch was a five game winning streak just before the skid began.

In their last seven games they’ve lost four games (three at home), to Eastern Conference teams, and three away games to Western Conference teams.

In considering that significant difference in results is there a corresponding difference in my Possession with Purpose Key Team Indicators in attack and defense?

I think so; but before offering thoughts on that here’s the Attacking PWP diagram for the Revolution in three categories: (Weeks 1-12, Weeks 13-19, and Total – Week 1-19)

APWP KEY INDICATORS NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION 2014

APWP KEY INDICATORS NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION 2014

Some thoughts based upon the Key Team Attacking Indicators:

Pretty clearly the amount of average possession has changed (in attack) for New England, in the last seven weeks, compared to the first 12 weeks; an increase in average overall possession by 7%.

What’s even more intriguing is that New England simply don’t win games when they out possess their opponent.

In the 19 games played New England have exceeded 51% possession seven times – and in each of those games they’ve lost!

Put another way – counter-attacking seems to suit this team when it comes to ‘results’ – or – the team has been behind, to begin with, too often and that game state has driven an increase in possession – indicating they are chasing the game.

Another interesting output has been their overall passing accuracy.

In the last seven games  their passing accuracy has increased by almost 8%.

For me that indicates they are playing shorter passes more frequently – again reinforcing the increase in possession percentage (a function of passing).

To continue, as the differences mount.

In this losing streak the Revolution have also increased their volume of passes in the opponent final third.

All told the average, in the seven straight losses, is 165 per game with a 32% completion rate versus 113 passes at 29% completion rate.

For me that indicates they might be playing too patient at times – looking for that perfect pass; when, with fewer passes and a lower completion rate they were scoring more goals.  A good indicator they were catching their opponent off-guard/out of position.

How about shots on goal per shots taken?

The Revolution are putting shots on goal, ~42% of the time, compared to just 27%, when having less possession and less penetration.

Again reinforcing that counter-attacking style of hitting the opponent on a quick attack after a change of possession.

Bottom line here is the Revolution goals scored average is .43 during this losing streak compare to 1.75 during the first twelve weeks.

Therefore it’s pretty clear to me that the Team Attacking PWP Key Indicators add value in isolating what might be happening during this losing streak.

With respect to Team Defending PWP Key Indicators; using the same three categories:

DPWP KEY INDICATORS NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION 2014

DPWP KEY INDICATORS NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION 2014

Most should know that the ‘goal not scored’ has more value than the ‘goal scored’; defense is critical to winning games.  So while the Revolution have issues in attack they also have issues in defense.

If New England possess the ball more, when they lose, then it would appear the opponent might be the one playing the counter-attacking style.

In other words, that increase in passing volume, and penetration volume, (by New England)  is influencing how often their fullbacks and perhaps central midfielders are over-committing in attack.

And the most telling team indicator to me, in that, is the significant increase in the opponents putting shots taken – on goal.

Nothing speaks more clearly to having ‘open space’ than a huge increase in shots on goal…  the percentage increase in the opponents shots taken being on goal goes from 26% to 46% – a whopping increase of 20%!

And that huge increase in shots on goal, has, clearly generated an increase in goals against.

During their losing streak the Revolution have averaged 2.43 goals against per game – while in the first 12 weeks they averaged just 1.17 goals against per game!

In closing…

Clearly the New England Revolution team performance indicators HAVE changed between Weeks 1-12 and Weeks 13-19.

Now I don’t focus on individual players – each team has a roster and it’s up to the coach to build that roster based upon the style of play they want to employ.

All I will offer here is that whoever is playing, on a regular basis, simply isn’t getting the job done.

And when I look at the overwhelming differences in team performance from weeks 1-12 to weeks 13-19 it is clearly… not just one player…

So is their an easy solution to right the ship?

Hard to say – but based upon these team indicators (while not actually watching New England play) I’d offer they need to be less aggressive in normal attack and look to counter as the opportunity presents itself – while… also playing a very strong defensive game.

None of that should require significant time in training between games…

Finally, I mentioned earlier that New England had lost three straight away games to Western Conference teams… that got my interest peaked on which conference might be strong or weaker at this point in the season.  So with that here’s some fun facts…

  • Western Conference Teams have taken 102 points against the East while Eastern Conference Teams have taken just 69 points against the West…
  • In basic math that pretty much translates to the Western Conference taking points from their Eastern Conference counterparts 60% of the time… not even by any stretch.
  • And, by the way, guess what one Eastern Conference team is doing very well against Western Conference teams this year – aye – Sporting Kansas City.  They are tops with 14 points against the west while DC United are 2nd best with nine points againt the West.
  • Might that explain why those two teams that are so high up the table in the Eastern Conference…!!!???

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

Reflections of MLS Week 16; Predictable or not??? And what about Chivas USA these last three games… anything there in PWP to see?

As you know I’ve attempted to create a Predictability Index (PI) from my Possession with Purpose (PWP) analysis.  Here’s a link in case you missed the first article on PWP Predictability.

Before looking at the overall results here’s a reminder on where all the teams stand after 17 weeks:

CPWP INDEX End of Week 17

CPWP INDEX End of Week 17

Not every team has played 18 games yet so the Index is not equal – just like the MLS Table; Toronto have four games in hand over some teams in the Eastern Conference and the LA Galaxy have as many as five games in hand over some teams in the Western Conference.

When looking at the Western Conference CPWP (where all teams have played 14 games) the Index has LA atop (.2380); with Seattle 2nd (.2008); Colorado 3rd (.1578); Portland 4th (.0616) and Vancouver 5th (.0470).

All told that’s 3 of the top five teams in the Western Conference – not ideal but pretty close.

When looking at the Eastern Conference CPWP (where all teams have played 14 games) the Index has Sporting FC atop (.2219); with Columbus 2nd (.1578); DC United 3rd (.0807); New England 4th (.0347) and New York 5th (-.0416).

All told that’s four of the top five teams in the Eastern Conference – again not ideal but pretty close.

How does last year compare to this year after Week 17?  I’ll cover that in my next article…  For now since most teams have eclipsed the 17 game barrier I use the separate Home and Away CPWP Predictability Indices…

A reminder, of sorts, the CPWP PI is not intended to predict draws; it’s strictly an attempt to “test” how well it can/could predict wins.

The diagrams (along with individual Team Index numbers)  are provided at the end of this article.

Before kick-off; a reminder that last weekend’s games saw the CPWP PI had relevance in five out of six games where a team won/lost versus drew.

So for teams that won on the road this week we have:

Chivas USA defeating San Jose and DC United defeating Toronto FC.

The away CPWP PI for Chivas USA is -0.19; the home CPWP PI for San Jose is -0.04; the PI indicates Chivas should have lost – they won (inaccurate).

The away CPWP PI for DC United is -0.16; the home CPWP PI for Toronto FC is +0.09; the PI indicates DC United should have lost – they won (inaccurate).

So for teams that won at home this week we have:

FC Dallas defeating Philadelphia Union; Real Salt Lake defeating New England Revolution, Vancouver Whitecaps defeating Seattle Sounders and Chivas USA defeating Montreal.

The home CPWP PI for Dallas is +0.07; the Away CPWP PI for Philadelphia is -0.02; the PI indicates Dallas should have won – they won (accurate).

The home CPWP PI for Real Salt Lake is +0.04; the Away CPWP PI for New England is 0.00; the PI indicates Real Salt Lake should have won – they won (accurate).

The home CPWP PI for Vancouver is +0.18; the away CPWP PI for Seattle is -0.06; the PI indicates Vancouver should have won – they won (accurate).

The home CPWP PI for Chivas USA is -0.28; the away CPWP PI for Montreal is -0.11; the PI indicates Montreal should have won – they lost (inaccurate).

In closing… and that promised look at Chivas USA.

All told where there weren’t draws the CPWP PI was three out of six games.

Excluding draws that’s two weeks of (5 for 6) and (3 for 6); (8 for 12) = 66% accurate.

Clearly betting against Chivas USA at this time is not a worthy endeavor.

Here’s the differences in their Possession with Purpose indicators in the first 14 weeks compared to the last three weeks:

  • First 14 Weeks (APWP = 2.1425 / 2nd worst in MLS)
  • First 14 Weeks (DPWP = 2.5341 / 2nd worst in MLS)
  • First 14 Weeks (CPWP = -0.3915 / worst in MLS)
  • Last three Weeks (APWP = 2.2217 / 5th worst in MLS)
  • Last three Weeks (DPWP = 1.9502 / BEST in MLS)
  • Last three Weeks (CPWP = 0.2715 / BEST in MLS)

With that significant change in Defending PWP it’s worth a quick look to see what’s what in the first 14 Weeks versus the last three weeks…

  • First 14 Weeks Opponent (Possession 57.14%, Passing Accuracy 79.73%; Penetration 15.84%; Shots Taken per Penetration 19.34%; Shots on Goal versus Shots Taken 38.15%; Goals Scored versus Shots on Goal 43.21%)
  • Last three Weeks Opponent (Possession 57.96%; Passing Accuracy 79.67%; Penetration 19.21%; Shots Taken per Penetration 15.27%; Shots on Goal versus Shots Taken 22.92%; Goals Scored versus Shots on Goal 0.00%)
  • The differences?  Opponent penetration has increased while the number of opponent shots taken and shots on goal and goals scored have decreased.
  • Without having seen any of their games I would offer that Chivas has decided to open up the opponent opportunities in penetrating in order to tighten the screws a bit deeper inside the 18 yard box…
  • In other words they are not running two banks of four players atop and outside the final third – they have dropped a bit deeper and are now running their banks of four more within and around the 18 yard box.
  • Perhaps others who follow Chivas USA more closely could offer visual information to determine if that is an accurate assessment?

 As promised the CPWP PI Home Index:

CPWP HOME PREDICTABILITY INDEX AS OF WEEK 16

CPWP HOME PREDICTABILITY INDEX AS OF WEEK 16

As promised the CPWP PI Away Index:

CPWP AWAY PREDICTABILITY INDEX AS OF WEEK 16

CPWP AWAY PREDICTABILITY INDEX AS OF WEEK 16

Best, Chris

Next up Week 17 PWP in review…