OPTA Spotlight: Crew's Gruenebaum making All-Star case

Opportunity struck and Crew's Gruenebaum hasn't looked back
Unsung Hero
OPTA Spotlight

OPTA Spotlight: Andy Gruenebaum

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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.

Numerology: What the future holds for advanced analytics

In the final installment of our Q&A, 4 MLS analysts peer into the crystal ball
What the future holds for advanced analytics
MLS Stats Gurus

Adu - Numerology

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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?

Central Winger: Possession a "lethal weapon" defensively

Measuring possession stats shows unexpected returns
On The Defensive
Soccer Analytics

RSL - Central Winger

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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.

The Throw-In: Can soccer analytics explain art of game?

Why statistics sometimes don't tell the whole story in soccer
Beyond Numbers
The Throw-In

Throw-In: Brian Mullan

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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 Their criteria seems so quaint and outdated, it’s played for laughs.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.

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 2:21 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 12:26 pm

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.

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