The US opens Copa America tonight against Colombia. It should be the toughest game of the group stage, but it’s unlikely the US will have any easy matches in this tournament. Continue reading “Why Does Mexico Have Longer Odds than the US at Copa America?”
South Korea had one of the stingiest defenses in the 2002 World Cup. The co-host reached the semi-finals, and before the third place game, conceded to only Clint Mathis, Christian Vieri, and Michael Ballack. Among those goal-scorers, Mathis scored with the most style. Continue reading “Goal of the Week: Clint Mathis v. South Korea, June 2002”
For the past 8 years, the Spanish/Barcelona possession-based philosophy cast a long shadow over the soccer world, inspiring imitators and reactive trends alike. Of course, there are many ways to attack, and teams such as Atletico Madrid and Leicester City have thrived recently without dominating possession.
While possession dominance hasn’t correlated to MLS success, it is still important to have individual players who can successfully complete a pass and retain possession when needed. The expectations for how many passes a player should complete will vary by role on the field and a team’s tactical plan. Let’s look at multiple passing statistics from the 2015 MLS season for a better sense of the league norms. Continue reading “Evaluating 2015 MLS Passing and Dribbling Success”
Bruce Murray emerged from the wilderness of mid-80s US soccer to retire as the leading goal scorer in national team history. Though it was a consolation goal, it’s fitting that his list of accomplishments includes scoring in the World Cup. Continue reading “Goal of the Week: Bruce Murray v. Austria, June 1990”
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”
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”
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”