and then, the hex


March 2016

Benefits of the US’ Higher Defensive Pressure

Within the span of four days, the US played Guatemala twice.  The outcome was a brutal 2-0 loss followed by a comprehensive 4-0 victory.  However, a blind look at the post-game stats wouldn’t necessarily lead to that conclusion.  The US had 5 shots on target in both games, produced similar expected goal totals in the first game and second game, and passing accuracy in the opposing half was nearly identical.

Enter the higher defensive pressure. Continue reading “Benefits of the US’ Higher Defensive Pressure”


Ten Suggestions for the MLS Audi Performance Index

The new Audi Performance Index promises fans “new insights to debate and discuss the sport they love in a new way.”  What is there to debate, though?  The index rates Ignacio Piatti and Dom Dwyer as the top players in Weeks 1 and 2, with scores of 2102 and 1547 respectively.  These numbers mean little in isolation, and the metric’s Web site is intentionally vague on additional context.  Let’s find a way to make this better. Continue reading “Ten Suggestions for the MLS Audi Performance Index”

Goal of the Week: Conor Casey v. Honduras, October 2009

The US entered this World Cup Qualifier against Honduras on top of the Hex.  A win would clinch a World Cup berth, but an injured Clint Dempsey required tactical shuffling in the attack.  In the build-up to the match, Bob Bradley mentioned the need to evaluate not just individual strikers, but striker pairings, indicating he’d stick with a 4-4-2.  Even with this comment, few, if any, predicted a starting lineup featuring Charlie Davies and Conor Casey.  The two strikers had just 10 caps between them, but the move proved to be a masterstroke from Bradley. Continue reading “Goal of the Week: Conor Casey v. Honduras, October 2009”

On MLS, Liga MX, CONCACAF Champions League, and Promotion/Relegation

Yet another year with the same outcome. When all four MLS teams crashed out of the CONCACAF Champions League this past week, it ensured a Mexican team would win the competition for the 8th straight season.  Frankly, it hasn’t been close: Real Salt Lake and Montreal have each made a final, and LA and Seattle reached the semifinals once.

In the immediate aftermath, the obvious question is, “How do MLS teams do better?” Continue reading “On MLS, Liga MX, CONCACAF Champions League, and Promotion/Relegation”

Analytics, Scouting, and MLS Attacking Tendencies

A 2014 McKinsey report on the data analytics revolution highlights the need for “translators”, those with a skillset that spans some combination of data, analytics, IT, and business decision-making.  The recent OptaPro Forum echoed this need in the soccer world: how do analysts, scouts, and decision-makers best bridge the gap from the technical world to the soccer world?  Continue reading “Analytics, Scouting, and MLS Attacking Tendencies”

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