Armchair Analyst: And down the stretch they come...

How you start matters, but how you finish is what's remembered forever in MLS
Armchair Analyst: Down the stretch they come
Great Stretch Runs

Armchair Analyst: Supporters' Shield

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SAN FRANCISCO -- "You can't win a title in March, but you sure can lose one."

Central Winger: Secondary pass completion rate

Secondary pass completion rate in MLS dominated by defense
Central Winger: Pass before the pass
Soccer Analytics

RBNY vs. Chivas Overhead - Central Winger

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The completion of a pass has a strong argument for being the most integral part of team success. No matter a team's style – route one at one extreme, tiki-taka at the other – completing your attempted passes at a high rate generally means that your team is successful in what it is trying to accomplish. By extension, analysts and fans alike have begun to look at player-specific pass completion rates as a decent proxy for player skill.

OPTA Spotlight: After breakout, what changed for Shea?

After a breakout 2011 season, what changed for Dallas' rising star?
OPTA Spotlight: Shifting perceptions of Shea
Shea: 2011 vs. 2012

This time a year ago, Brek Shea was the poster boy of the American development system.

Here was a physically overwhelming prospect – 6-foot-3, rangy with speed and agility to burn – who had honed his abilities with the US U-17s in Bradenton, Fla., before jumping to Major League Soccer as a raw, but extremely promising, 17-year-old.

The trajectory was steadily upwards from that point, and by the 2011 season, Shea was ready for his breakout campaign.

Central Winger: Houston have a weapon on the throw-in

Dynamo are on a roll, and here's a majorly overlooked reason why
Central Winger: Houston's secret weapon
Soccer analytics

Brad Davis - Central Winger

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The throw-in is the second most common on-the-ball event in soccer, closely followed by the more traditional pass via the foot. Yet it's unsurprising that throw-ins are analyzed considerably less than the more rare set plays like free kicks and corner kicks.

Throw-ins aren't glamorous – but they are undoubtedly important. And the Houston Dynamo seem to have picked this low-hanging fruit.

OPTA Spotlight: How EJ rediscovered himself in Seattle

Seattle, Rosales help revive Johnson's previously sputtering career
Finally Grown
EJ's return to grace

OPTA Spotlight: Eddie Johnson

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As the calendar turned from 2011 to 2012, Eddie Johnson was running low on second chances.  

A move to link up with former US teammate DaMarcus Beasley south of the border at Puebla had just fallen through, a bizarre turn in a career that had increasingly become defined by what wasn’t in the cards rather than by what lay ahead.

25 July 1:26 pm

How often can you call an All-Star Game historic? Ground-breaking? Or even revolutionary?

Well, the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game will classify as all of the above, no matter who wins the match or whether or not a goal is even scored.

Unless you've been under a rock these last few weeks, you've likely heard about the Smart Soccer revolution that's being pioneered by adidas through their miCoach technology. 

OPTA Spotlight: Who the stats say should start vs. Chelsea

If Ben Olsen only took the numbers into consideration, these players would make up the MLS 11
Opta Spotlight: Who stats say should start vs. Chelsea

PHILADELPHIA – The final decision is Ben Olsen's, but that doesn't mean we can't take a crack at the starting lineup for Wednesday's AT&T MLS All-Star game (8:30 pm ET, ESPN2, TeleFutura, TSN/RDS in Canada; LIVE CHAT on

Of course, instead of taking multiple aspects into consideration like Olsen – form, on-field chemistry, personal preference et al – this lineup is determined strictly by the numbers.

Central Winger: New model illustrates passing tendencies

Improved model illustrates MLS attacking, possession tendencies
Central Winger: New model illustrates passing tendencies
Soccer Analytics

Zusi - Central Winger

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Last week, with the help of Opta chalkboards, we explored the possibilities that arise when we are able to determine how likely a pass is to be successfully completed based upon key metrics such as pass distance, location and angle. Using this model, we were able to determine which players tend to complete passes that the average MLS player would not.

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