Numerology: How valuable is possession anyway?

MLS stats gurus talk possession, formations and goalscorers
Is Possession Valuable?
MLS Stats Gurus

Wondo - Numerology

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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?

21 June 1:21 pm

Since this week is dedicated to numbers here at, 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.

Numerology: MLS stats gurus take on the salary cap

Part 2 of our interview with MLS performance analysts takes a look at the cap & "anti-football"
Stats gurus talk salary cap
MLS Stats Gurus

Sapong - Numerology

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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?

20 June 11:26 am

Becoming familiar with the ins and outs of the 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):

Numerology: MLS stats gurus leading revolution (Pt. 1)

MLS experts talk about the analytics revolution in soccer
Numerology: MLS stats gurus leading the way
MLS Stats Gurus

Numerology interview Pt 1

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Welcome to the rabbit hole. No one is really sure just how deep the soccer analytics field goes, but more than a few people are spending a lot of time trying to find out.

Numerology: How advanced stats are changing our game

Advanced statistics give MLS teams the power of data. So what can they do with it?
Numerology: How advanced stats are changing our game
Opta's growing role

Numerology: Freddy Adu, Osvaldo Alonso

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"Americans love statistics." It's an old canard, and probably a true one.

It's an obsession that criss-crosses everyday life: social media, online traffic, box office numbers, presidential approval ratings. Statistical analysis is becoming more influential in all aspects of life.

Numerology: Enter the brave new world of soccer analytics

Diving into the data in search of the future of soccer analytics
Brave New World


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Gabriel de los Rios /

When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts advanced to the stage of science.
-- William Thomson, 1st Baron of Kelvin

I doubt Lord Kelvin was much of a soccer fan. The beautiful game has always been resistant to numerical representation, at least beyond the almighty scoreboard.

Central Winger: Saves, tackles and organizational concerns

How saves and tackles indicate more than just individual talent
Before The Threat
Soccer Analytics

Beltran tackle - Central Winger

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Growing up as a goalkeeper provided me a distinct perspective on the game, one that has made its way into my coaching sessions. My favorite phrase – almost exclusively directed toward my team's goalkeepers – is, "The best save you will ever make is the save that you didn't have to make."

OPTA Spotlight: Life without Gonzalez proves tough for LA

Can the Galaxy recover after dismal start without their defensive linchpin?
Life without Gonzalez proves tough for LA
LA without Omar

LA issues, Omar Gonzalez, Opta Spotlight

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What’s going on in LA?

At some point this season, we’ve all thought it. And, well, Bruce Arena has almost surely spent the last three months trying to find the right remedy to cure what ails the Galaxy.

Through three months of MLS play, LA find themselves in the Western Conference basement with a leaky backline, third to last in the league in points per game (.86) and tied for second in goals allowed (21). And it only gets worse from there (see chart).

Castrol Weekly Top 20: Saborio tops again for RSL

Saborío puts in classic performance to top Weekly Index
Throwback Performance
Castrol Index Wk. 12

Saborio - Castrol Week 12

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“The future of the game is universality.”

That paraphrase of Jonathan Wilson’s seminal work on tactics, Inverting the Pyramid, is the best encapsulation of how our game has evolved over the past 10 years.

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