Visualizing Expected Goals, Actual Goals, and Player Salary by Alex Rathke

If you have not heard of Expected Goals (xG) then please have a read of these posts before continuing. 

11tegen11 has written about expected goals (xG) and concluded that it predicts future performance better than other metrics such as Points Per Game (PPG), Goal Ratio, Shots Ratio & Shots on Target Ratio.

Using the interactive visualization, you can see how your favorite players performed each season and how much they earned per season. As you will notice, a number of players "over-perform" and others "under-perform" their xG every season. We could classify them as being "lucky" or "unlucky". Dan Altman in this video explains why this may or may not be the case.

See the interactive graphic after the jump.

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Who is the best passer in MLS? Debuting an Expected Pass Completion Model by Jared Young

Javier Morales of Real Salt Lake had completed 82.3% of his passes before last weekend. Chad Marshall completed 84.4% of his passes for the Seattle Sounders. Gyasi Zardes has a 66.1% pass completion percentage. Is any of this good? Which player is a better passer? Fans are smart enough to know they can’t compare those numbers directly because Morales and Zardes play attacking roles and Marshall is a defender and will face pressure less often. 

Looking at pass completion percentages without context is a fool's errand. To address this issue I built a model that predicts the likelihood that a given pass will be completed. The effect is that the difficulty of the pass - including position on the field, part of body used, whether it was backwards, etc – can be factored into this expectation. With this model we can observe whether or not a player passes more or less effectively than an average passer, adjusting for the difficulty of the pass.

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ASA First Touch: Colorado's waste of resources by ASA Staff

Finally, the Secretary of Defense is home. Though the game ended in the dreaded 0-0 tie, Tim Howard’s debut with the Rapids was surely the biggest storyline of the week. When his signing was originally announced, there was no doubt he would take over immediately as the starter, but it did create a tremor of controversy.  Are the Rapids really best served by changing their goalkeeper after letting in the fewest goals of any team after 16 games?

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Goodbye expected goals, hello expected points! by Jared Young

An expected goals model frames quite well what everyone knows to be true: that not all goals are created equal. Goals are created from tap-ins and bicycle kicks and all the shots in between, and expected goals allow analysts and fans to quantify the likelihood a shot will go in the net, and therefore the value of a shot. The next logical step in the discussion of goals is to analyze their value. Goals aren't created equal but neither are goals equal. The goal that makes a two goal lead a three goal league does not nearly have the value as that stoppage time goal that captures all three points.

To measure the value of a goal I looked at game states in MLS from 2011 to 2015 and built a series of functions that estimate the expected points for home and away teams given the score of the game and the minute being played. Each of the functions fit tightly with the actual data and had an R squared greater than 85%. The expected points functions look like this for games with a difference of two or less goals.

Pretty graphs after the jump

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ASA First Touch: Second Edition by Harrison Crow

This is ASA’s attempt at an ensemble wrap of various things pertaining to US Soccer things over the last week. This is not intended to be a deep retrospective or an overtly granular analytical take. These are quick and hard takes by our first rate crew.


By Jared Young (@jaredeyoung)

The USMNT did not have their best week as they failed to score against both Argentina and Colombia finishing fourth in the Copa America Centenario. The most interesting statistic this week came in the form of an undefined number as the U.S. had a finishing rate against Argentina of 0/0, or something that can’t be expressed numerically. It’s tough to score when you don’t shoot. 

Whenever you finish fourth in a major tournament but don’t score in the final matches you will divide your contingent. Twitter might not be an accurate representation of the USMNT fanbase but it at least offers some data to consider. Many on twitter have been calling for Jurgen Klinsmann’s head despite the overall success of the team in the tournament. But just how divided are fans?

More apologies for JK after the jump.

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MLS Goalkeepers: Putting Their Best Feet Forward by Bill Reno

Today we spell redemption, R. O. N. I mean, M. L. S. Finally, after about ten weeks of alternating between good saves and bonehead plays, a number of goalkeepers have gotten their feet under them. And just because of that, we’re going to look at how good their feet really are. Sure it’s a loose transition, but just take a look at the stats first before you click out of here to go post your favorite starting USMNT XI on SBI.

I was lucky enough to stumble on a site called “ASA” (pronounced, ass-ah, I’m pretty sure) and steal some of their passing stats. (If the format is goofy on your phone, click here.)

More after the jump.

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Ozzie Alonso Is Good Again and Not For The Same Old Reasons by Harrison Crow

From 2009-2014 there were few terrifying midfielders as deadly to other opponents and frustrating to opposing supporters as Ozzie Alonso of the Seattle Sounders. Not only did he deliver crunching tackles into attackers but he also pulled away a fair number of them with the ball going the other way. To Seattle, and what they aim to accomplish, he’s been a vital cog.

The last two years have started to point towards a declining if only in terms of the statistics in which he had previously tended to collect. Coupled with that decline of numbers was a rise in fouls committed. These rise in fouls could be attributed to the referees calling him tighter with his noted reputation to be rough and tumble. The other explanation could be him losing a step and becoming slower creating an increase of rash decisions. This is something that we’ve seen with Kyle Beckerman and to a lesser extent Rico Clark. 

More on MLS's one-man wrecking ball after the jump.

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Giovinco Shoots Too Much (No, Seriously, He Does) by Alex Brodsky

After winning MVP on the back of arguably the greatest offensive season in league history, Sebastian Giovinco is certainly in the running to defend his crown. His 0.96 non-penalty goals and assists per 96 minutes ranks 6th in the league among players with at least 600 minutes. The Atomic Ant has constituted nearly all of Toronto FC’s attack this season, scoring or assisting on all but one of his club’s 14 goals. There is one aspect of his game, however, that is holding his team back: the man loves to shoot from just about anywhere on the field. TFC have seen few returns from Giovinco’s predilection for long shots - he’s only scored once in 50 attempts from outside the box.

Despite Giovinco’s best efforts, TFC’s overall attack has underwhelmed. They currently rank 11th in MLS with 1.36 xG per game. This mark, combined with their vastly improved defense, will surely get them into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference but won’t help them meet their loftier ambitions. If they truly want to become MLS Cup or Supporters Shield contenders (which many pundits tipped them for during preseason) they’ll need to drastically improve their offensive output after the Copa America break. That improvement starts with Giovinco’s shot quality.

More after the jump.

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ASA After Dark: A Running Conversation of #SKCvDCU by Harrison Crow

Hey everybody (I'm really speaking to just you)! this is incredibly last minute but with the game delay rather than trying to filter out the mass of tweets from your 1,000 closest friends instead join us at 9PM EST for a running conversation of the game. Where we will are guaranteed to mock and ridicule coaches, players, referees and general food decisions! 

Be there or ... don't. Scroll down below the big mountain to see the chat.

Live Blog ASA after dark: DCU@SKC