I'm not going to say that building out of the back is a bad thing. Some of the most memorable goals in league – and world – history have come from long sequences that started with a simple pass from the central defense.
But it may not be the most efficient thing. The vast majority – 71 percent – of goalscoring possessions have originated in the offensive half of the field this season. Only 13 percent have originated in the defensive third.
In honor of Numerology, we have broken down the OPTA stats of all MLS players this season to form a statistical Best XI for the 2012 All-Star Game.
We have chosen to line up in a 3-5-2 formation and, while which qualities best define a certain position are certainly debatable, the raw data speak for themselves.
Andy Gruenebaum waited six years for his shot. He didn’t waste a second once opportunity finally struck.
As a rookie, Gruenebaum watched Bill Gaudette, Noah Palmer and Jon Busch split time between the pipes in Columbus into thirds. Then Will Hesmer arrived from Kansas City, forcing the University of Kentucky product to subsist on US Open Cup and Reserve League table scraps until the occasional injury gave him an opening on the big stage.
If you've come this far, then you know what the big question is: What does the future hold? That's the point of predictive analysis in the first place, right?
Our four MLS performance analysts delve into that question here in Part 4 - the final installment - of our Q&A. Click here for Part 3.
Devin Pleuler: What is the future of soccer analytics?
In soccer, being in possession of the ball is considered by many as being synonymous with being on the offensive.
This makes intuitive sense: if a team has the ball, they have the opportunity to score. Conversely, the team without the ball will never have an opportunity to score. Therefore, soccer will always revolve around possession and who has it. It's a valuable commodity.
One of the more memorable scenes in the 2011 film adaptation of Michael Lewis’ seminal Moneyball is when a table full of Oakland Athletics scouts are discussing their options in the Major League Baseball draft. Their criteria seems so quaint and outdated, it’s played for laughs.
They prefer one player in particular because of his “classy swing, a real clean stroke,” one scout offers. But he can’t hit the curveball, another scout points out.
Welcome to Part 3 of our Numerology Q&A with four MLS performance analysts. Today we'll be getting their thoughts on possession, formations and strikers.
Click here for Part 2.
Devin Pleuler: What do you think about possession statistics? What statistical measurements do you believe are useful?
Since this week is dedicated to numbers here at MLSsoccer.com, I figured I would pass on some of the raw data and illustrations collected over the past few weeks in the hunt for fresh Opta Spotlight* ideas.
*On Friday, I'll examine the magnificent season Columbus' Andy Gruenebaum has put together with Will Hesmer sidelined.
Welcome to Part 2 of our interview with four MLS performance analysts. Today we'll be looking at how they face the unique challenges of MLS, what they look for in a player and how they think the game should be played.
Click here for Part 1.
Devin Pleuler: What challenges does MLS’ single-entity structure and salary cap pose for you, your job and performance analysis in general? Are other things easier?
Becoming familiar with the ins and outs of the MLSsoccer.com MatchCenter Chalkboard, a feature offered after each and every MLS game, may seem like a tedious task to some. Honestly, it’s not difficult, and it can reveal intricate insights about the match and the players. Here's a primer.
First, go to the MatchCenter for any game you’d like to review and select the Chalkboard tab. I’ve selected the Montreal vs. Seattle game from June 16 (shown below):