Zack Steffen: Three Areas to Improve by Bill Reno

Typically MLS’s spring season is marred by goalkeepers shaking off rust from an extended offseason, but this season fans have witnessed a breath of fresh air when it comes to goalkeeping. First, we've had a number of young goalkeepers far exceed expectations, despite not even being starters last year. Tyler Miller, Matt Turner, and Richard Sanchez were all sitting a bench somewhere last year but have shown the public (and previous employers) why they are worth putting in goal. Luis Robles and Alex Bono have done well in the Champions League, while Sean Johnson and Jimmy Maurer are seeing some resurgence in their careers. It hasn't been all daisies and roses, but compared to previous years, it’s been a blast seeing goalkeepers win games instead of costing their teams points.

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An Updated Expected Passing Model by Matthias Kullowatz

In the offseason we upgraded our passing model, and its outputs are now featured in our xPassing tables (both interactive and static). After a few minor tweaks this week, now is as good a time as any to explain how it works. 

Much like our Expected Goals (xG) models, the purpose of this model is to estimate the probability of success. Only, in this case, a success is a pass that is completed rather than a shot that is scored. For example, if Player A is passing the towards Player B, we can assign a likelihood of that pass being completed. We do this based on a variety of factors, such as the circumstances and player postion on the field, pass type, and the direction of the pass. And in this case, we opted to use a gradient-boosted ensemble of decision trees (GBM) rather than a logistic regression model (GLM). 

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Lowered Expectations: Week 7 by Harrison Crow

Welcome to Lowered Expectations, the week seven edition! Each week, we go about posting chalkboards and GIFs of the weekend’s best open-play shot attempts that did not quite live up to expectations. We look at each one and not only evaluate the results, but also the process that led to them.

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Lowered Expectations: Week 6 by Harrison Crow

Welcome to Lowered Expectations, the week six edition! Each week, we go about posting chalkboards and GIFs of the weekend’s best open-play shot attempts that did not quite live up to expectations. We look at each one and not only evaluate the results, but also the process that led to them.

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Lowered Expectations: Week Five by Harrison Crow

Welcome to Lowered Expectations, the week five edition! Each week, we go about posting chalkboards and GIFs of the weekend’s five best open play shot attempts that did not quite live up to expectations. We’ll take each one and not only evaluate the results, but also the process that led to these chances.

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The Art of a Free Kick and How To Giovinco by Eliot McKinley

Sebastian Giovinco’s free kick prowess is well documented, but what if your team is not blessed with a formica atomica to bang in 13 direct free kick goals over the last 3 seasons? How do MLS teams score, or not, from free kicks?

From 2015-2017, 12,728 free kicks were taken in MLS play in the attacking half, resulting in 272 goals. Free kicks can be taken a number of ways, a direct shot on goal, a cross into the box, speculative long balls, through balls, or quick restarts, among others. The type of free kick restart is generally dictated by the position it is taken from. If a free kick is given close to goal, in the center of the field, a team will generally take a direct shot on goal (zone 14; 57.0% shots). Free kicks close to the goalline, but near the touchlines are most likely crosses (zones 13, 15, 16, 18; 57.1% crosses). Free kicks farther away from goal are almost always some other form of restart than a direct shot or cross (zones 10-12; 95.1%).

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The Elusive Advanced Defensive Metric by Mark Asher Goodman

It all started with Micheal Azira.

At the conclusion of the 2017 MLS season, I sifted through the wreckage of the Colorado Rapids awful season, player by player, to see what could be learned. Who, among these players was actually a high-quality soccer player? Who should the team retain for next year? Who should be jettisoned? Why? How can I know the difference? And, most importantly for readers of a data-obsessive website like American Soccer Analysis, can I find a credible way of answering those questions using advanced metrics?

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How Every Goalkeeper Fared in 2017 by Luke Stanke

By Luke Stanke (@lukestanke)

Lowered Expectations: Week Four by Harrison Crow

Welcome to Lowered Expectations, the week four edition! Each week we go about posting chalkboards and GIFs of the weekend’s best open play shot attempts that did not quite live up to expectations. We’ll take each one and not only evaluate the results, but also the process that led to these chances.

#5 - Mason Toye, Minnesota United, 84th minute, 0.225 expected goals
Assisted by: Ethan Finlay (through ball)
Number of passes in possession: 7

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