by Harrison Crow (@harrison_crow)
I know. Oh, yes. I know. That pain of watching a boring game. I know the code; no American soccer fan may EVER admit that there are boring soccer games but the reality is that they happen. Just as there are boring NFL, NBA and NHL games, MLS is no different..
How many times have you ever tuned into a game and just thought "this is stupid, how did I think this was going to be a good game?" Well I present to you a solution that can perhaps point out potential entertaining games and help you bypass the ones that lead to the afternoon nap or watching Nicholas Cage movies on FX.
I present to you the Watchability Score. It's a pretty simple metric that is comprised of four attributes that A) keep the game flowing and B) make for entertaining circumstances. Those specific attributes are total shots in a match, total number of minutes tied in a match, fouls per match and completed dribbles per match. To get the metric, add the rankings of each team in each of those categories. For example, if Team A is 1st in shots/game, 1st in mins tied, 1st in fewest fouls, and 1st in dribbles, then Team A would have a score of four. Conversely, if team B was 20th in each category, their ranking would be 20+20+20+20=80. In other words, the lower the number, the more "watchable" a team is.
1) We all hate games that are slowed down by fouls. It's annoying and doesn't frequently make for a good or aesthetically pleasing match.
2) Shots lead to goals and while goals are exciting the simple event of a shot being taken brings out attention back into focus. The more, the merrier.
3) Close games are obviously more entertaining than blow outs... on most occasions. Tie games mean there is something on the line for both teams and it makes people do things that are often entertaining.
4) Dempsey is a US international favorite because of the insane things he both tries and somehow manages to pull off. He's an entertainer and an amazing athlete. People that can do things with a ball that are more than simply just kicking it hard to a teammate or towards the goalie tend to make some cool things happen and most people like watching that. I like watching that.
I'll be using the Watchability rankings, slightly tweaking them and incorporating them into these posts in the future. If you have suggestions on how you'd like to see this tweaked in the future, hit me up on twitter, email me or just comment below.
DC United at Orlando City Soccer Club
The weekend is here folks and by God I'm feeling like it's a day late on it's arrival. I'm sure for Orlando City who is still recovering from all the missing internationals that another few days would have been nice. Tough break for them.
They play a team in DC United that has been pretty hard to figure out this season. They've had entertaining games, they've had "meh" games and then they had games last week that annoy you so very much because they managed to get points. plural.
Whatever. Good for them--and you know what, good for their fan base. They've endured a lot of crap in the last four-five years and the organization as a whole looks to be going back towards the top and that's good thing, I think, for MLS as a whole. I mean, I don't see how it could be a bad thing. Unless... I don't know something drastic happened like Ben Olsen was actually Gabriel Gray or something weird like that. That's impossible... right?
Looking at our expected goal numbers, Orlando City is a bit of an oddity. We can see they sit a bit on the above average side with expected goal differential but are sitting 18th in expected goals for and first in expected goals against. This isn't the type of dominating split I was expecting and it kind of calls to memory the season that DC had last year with similarly awkward numbers.
The thing that makes Orlando unique and possibly leaves me with the thought they might be good is that they are dominant with keeping possession in their attacking third. Yes, their total average possession is tied for 14th in MLS but their ratio compared to opponents is the highest in the league at 1.54. Prediction: OCSC win.
Jairo Arrieta ($6.6 - 18.3%) - Who would have thought even three weeks ago he'd be the top selected player on the DC roster but here we are. I imagine much of that bump is a two fold equation playing at all and being cheap, while having a good first week.
Nick DeLeon ($6.5 - 13.6%) - Yet another cheap pick-up that starts regularly sometimes it's just about those easy points, everything else is gravy for some people. I guess.
Kaka ($11.3 - 28%) - The fourth most owned player in all of MLS fantasy and yet to let down his owners that have taken the chance on him early. He's been brilliant early on for a team that have very much depended on him to carry them early.
Rafael Ramos ($5.5 - 16.1%) - Ramos has been a great early get for a lot of fantasy managers as he plays, is super cheap and has been apart of a pretty stingy defense that doesn't relquish a lot of shots.
The Weekend Matchups:
Numbers in parentheses are expected goals in even game state, WS is the combined Watchability score for both teams playing. WS numbers are on a scale of 12 to 156, and the lower the number, the more "watchable" the game is.
Toronto FC (-0.83) at Chicago Fire (-0.21) - WS: 70
Watchability score for some reason, I haven't figured it out yet, kind of likes Chicago as a team. There are a lot of shots allowed in their games, most are close and they have some interesting things happen while flowing pretty smoothly. This game might even favor Chicago too! Prediction: Chicago, win.
New England Revolution (0.48) at Colorado Rapids (-0.16) - WS:100
Colorado just isn't a fun team to watch right now and it's kind of sad to see any team pack in at home. Prediction: DRAW
Houston Dynamo (-0.42) at Seattle Sounders FC (0.91) - WS:114
Speaking of not good teams, Houston is bad right now. I'm a bit surprised but that's how some of these go. The Sounders are favored and with a WS that's the highest of not being in favor of watching a game. So, ugh... proceed with caution. You've been warned. Prediction: Sounders win.
LA Galaxy (0.59) at Vancouver Whitecaps (0.26) - WS: 89
An obvious flaw within the metrics that I'm seeing is some sort of judge in importance. This stands out as this is a big game, but WS doesn't rate it highly. Prediction: DRAW
FC Dallas (0.15) at Portland Timbers (0.58) - WS: 65
I'm not sure I really needed a metric to tell me this would be an interest/fun game to watch but either way. Portland has all the numbers it's about them finally putting things together in a match against a very tough Dallas team. Prediction: Portland win
Real Salt Lake (-0.49) at San Jose Earthquakes (-0.74) - WS: 110
One of these days RSL is just going to end up being bad. The question is if this is one of those days. Could all the changes at RSL finally equate to our their xGDEven finally avoid being a model buster? Prediction: DRAW
Philadelphia Union (0.12) at Sporting Kansas City (1.16) - WS: 58
This is the first REAL test of the the Watchability Score as it thinks this will be the match-up of the weekend. Sporting has statistically shown to be VERY good this season but the points in the right hand column shrug their shoulders with a heavy sigh. Prediction: Sporting, win.
NERD IMAGERY OF THE WEEK
This is how I basically how see I stand-off of Bill Hamid versus Kaka looking... only represented in a Heroes gif. You're welcome.