You probably don't know this, but there has been a great debate raging on the "math nerd" niche of soccer Twitter recently. You can try to follow it from HERE, but rest assured: This is the Great Schism of the soccer analytics community. TSR vs. expected goals will make the world burn.
And Jurgen Klinsmann's US national team is the lit match. They were out-shot for the seventh straight official match (read: No friendlies) in Monday's 1-1 draw against Panama, and for the ninth time in 11 competitive matches since winning the 2013 Gold Cup. Whether it's Germany or Belgium or Panama or Haiti, the US have played the vast majority of the games that matter over the last two years on the back foot. They've been remarkable consistent in that regard.
It's a vast stylistic change. The 2013 team outshot their opponents 105-47, dominating from stem to stern. In the 11 games (that matter) since, they've been outshot 193-117. In the last three it's 50-20.
When you give up that many shots, you're flirting with danger. Statistically speaking, teams that get outshot by such a wide margin can not sustainably produce results.
Thus, it always feels like the US are about to concede:
Panama looking confident right now. If they had a final pass in their tool kit we’d be in trouble. Why are we sitting so deep defensively?— herculez gomez (@herculezg) July 14, 2015
Given the wonky stakes of this draw, I think that "big picture" sea change is the most important takeaway.
Here are a few others:
• Some day, we'll thank Blas Perez for the lesson in "CONCACAF intensity" he dished out to Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks. The two young Americans were awful in the first half, but were forced to raise their level and mostly responded in the second 45.
Hopefully the next time they play together - which won't be the quarters, since Brooks is suspended with yellow card accumulation – they'll be ready to go from the bell.
• They weren't the only ones who could profit from this:
Brooks, Alvarado, Zardes, Yedlin need to play in games like this. That's the main benefit. That and 7 points from 3 games. Ho hum. #USMNT— Charles Boehm (@cboehm) July 14, 2015
• Gyasi Zardes put in 60 hard minutes up top, then 30 more tracking back on the wing. Panama kicked the crap out of him all night, but he kept getting up.
He still needs to be quicker with his decisions and willing to vary the types of runs he makes, but he survived the bloodsport that is the Panamanian defensive scheme. It's encouraging.
• The US didn't complete a single cross, which is worrying when you have two nominally overlapping fullbacks. Crossing is a low percentage play, but you have to show some competency at it in order to keep the opponent playing tactical whack-a-mole.
• Alejandro Bedoya didn't look rusty. He nearly drew a Panama red card in the first half, and had a pinpoint pass to Michael Bradley for the equalizer:
• Brad Guzan made one of the better saves you'll see this calendar year when Kyle Beckerman – who was not good – got beaten to the near post on a counter.
• Timmy Chandler's performance summarized in one tweet:
I ate a chimichanga after 10 pm just to know what it feels like to be Timmy Chandler.— Malena (@12thLady) July 14, 2015
The US have some work to do ahead of Saturday's quarterfinal, which is probably going to be against either El Salvador or Guatemala. We should be able to physically pummel either of those two teams into submission.
Beyond that, though, it's tough to know what to expect.