Category: Soccer Analytics

Around the World of Soccer

Best quote this week:

“It goes back to saying, ‘It’s okay to be who we are. It’s okay if we don’t have 115 passes in 30 minutes, it’s okay if we don’t have 150 shots on goal.’ This game is about winning. It’s about thinking the game. It’s about consciously not allowing teams to break you down inside your area, and more importantly, finding that moment to score a goal. That’s what this game’s about.
“People have lost the plot with all this passing and shooting percentages and if you shoot from here you’ll score if you do it 12 times. Well, I’ll tell you what: the stats were wrong tonight. The stats will lose to the human spirit every day of the week.”

Colorado Rapids Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni telling us what he thinks about the increase in “Money-Ball” like statistical analysis of MLS and soccer in general over the last few years after a win against Sporting KC last weekend.  After this comment he said thank you and immediately left the podium. (Soccer America Daily-June 1)

Best article discovered from outside of the Republic this week:

The answer article from Will Parchman (@WillParchman) at Top Drawer Soccer on why Mastroeni is wrong.

FiveThirtyEight MLS Projections

Statistical guru Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site provides a weekly update projecting the end of season records and odd of winning the championship in nine different leagues, including MLS.  The MLS page, presented by Jay Boice and Reuben Fischer-Baum, also provide a statistical prediction for upcoming matches each week.

These projections are based on an updated version of ESPN’s Soccer Power Index, a rating system first devised in 2009 by Nate Silver.  Each team is assigned an offensive and defensive rating, which is a projection on how many goals a team would score and concede against an average team.  These ratings are then used to predict specific games and various statistical tools are also used to project out the season for the remaining league schedule.  Take all of this with a grain of salt this early in the season.  As the season moves along, the accuracy of the projections obviously improve significantly.

Projected Simulated Season results and Probabilities for Texas teams: (updated today):

Major League Soccer:

FC Dallas:

Season Finish: 56 points and a +11 goal differential. (First place overall in league) 

Probabilities:  Make Playoffs-89%, Secure a First-Round Bye-52% and Win MLS Cup-9%

Houston Dynamo:

Season Finish:  49 points and a +2 goal differential. (9th place overall in league)

Probabilities:  Make Playoffs-68%, Secure First Round Bye-19% and Win MLS Cup-4%

Week 9 Projections: (due to rounding, totals do not necessarily add up to 100%)

Toronto FC vs. Houston Dynamo:  Toronto-55% chance to win, Houston-21% chance to win, Draw-25%

FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers: FC Dallas-53% chance to win, Portland-21% chance to win, Draw 25%

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) is another of the leagues tracked.  The league has only played two games, so it is too early to draw any judgments.

Here is a link to the complete FiveThirtyEight ratings and an explanation of their system.