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December 2015

The US Attack After Donovan and Dempsey, Part 1

This past November offered a glimpse of the US national team future – one without both Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.  It’s understandable that Jurgen Klinsmann would evaluate other attacking options early in the qualifying cycle, as Dempsey will be 35 by the 2018 World Cup.  However, after Donovan retired, Dempsey became and remains the most prolific attacker in the player pool.  So, if not from Dempsey, where will the goals come from this cycle? Continue reading “The US Attack After Donovan and Dempsey, Part 1”

The Unquestionable Influence of “Foreigners” on the US National Team

This past week, after Abby Wambach and Landon Donovan questioned the dynamic of foreign-born players on the national team, Mix Diskerud eloquently articulated the “Americaness” of foreign-born citizens.  I looked back at recent US squads to determine the impact of first-generation or second-generation players.  This group represents the national team disproportionately compared to the general population, but it isn’t a recent phenomenon.  If anything, the relationship between the US team and ethnicity will become more malleable in the future. Continue reading “The Unquestionable Influence of “Foreigners” on the US National Team”

Goal of the Week: Landon Donovan v. Ecuador, March 2007

Finding the best position for a talented, versatile player isn’t the most difficult coaching dilemma, but it was one that three national team managers encountered with Landon Donovan. Continue reading “Goal of the Week: Landon Donovan v. Ecuador, March 2007”

Trigger Cut: Managerial Changes and ELO Change

A quick-hit analysis following the inevitable parting of mutual consent between Chelsea and Jose Mourinho.  I looked at the change in ELO score from the start of the season to today.  The figures look kindly on Chelsea’s decision. Continue reading “Trigger Cut: Managerial Changes and ELO Change”

Goal of the Week: Jozy Altidore v. Honduras, June 2013

In hindsight, the US had a successful 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign, clinching a berth with two games to spare.  The start of qualifying couldn’t have been more dramatic, though, with an away loss to Honduras and an explosive article questioning the harmony of the US team and Jurgen Klinsmann’s coaching acumen.

The US corrected its trajectory by the home rematch against Honduras, but this is CONCACAF, where home games are usually measured by degrees of frustration against an opponent in a deep bunker. Continue reading “Goal of the Week: Jozy Altidore v. Honduras, June 2013”

The Simple But Effective Metric of Playing Time

Playing time is first chapter in any statistical analysis story of a player.  To simply earn game time is an accomplishment in itself; before a player can impact a game, he must see the field.  Repeated playing time is a positive indicator of a coach’s belief in that player’s ability.

Whereas other soccer stats are influenced by position (attackers score more goals, defenders make more clearances), minutes played matters everywhere on the field.  Comparatively speaking, minutes played also yields a larger sample size than other metrics.  Here are the minutes played for all MLS field players in 2014 and 2015 (all data from MLSSoccer.com).  Continue reading “The Simple But Effective Metric of Playing Time”

An MLS Cup Review in 3 Charts

How did Columbus have 61% of possession and 85% pass accuracy and create just one shot on target? Continue reading “An MLS Cup Review in 3 Charts”

Goal of the Week: Eric Wynalda v. Guatemala, November 1996

Odd circumstances surrounded the start of the 1998 World Cup Qualifying campaign.  By virtue of hosting the 1994 World Cup, the US hadn’t played a CONCACAF qualifier since the epic game against Trindad and Tobago, a seven year span.  Just a few weeks before the game, the US squad also remained a mystery. Continue reading “Goal of the Week: Eric Wynalda v. Guatemala, November 1996”

A Closer Look at MLS Aggregate Playoffs

Last week, we looked at the plethora of MLS playoff formats.  Despite these changes, one durable playoff aspect is an aggregate round.  MLS introduced an aggregate conference semifinal round in 2003 that remains today, and the conference finals followed suit in 2012.

I analyzed the results of the aggregate stages for the past 13 years of MLS playoffs – this equates to 120 games.  The key finding is that home teams have a better record in these games than higher seeds. Continue reading “A Closer Look at MLS Aggregate Playoffs”

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