The 2018 MLS season is well under way and the biggest story so far has been the hot start by expansion side LAFC. Two road games, two road victories. But even for an expansion team, none of that should be too surprising given Bob Bradley is in charge.
Bradley has his faults and deficiencies as a head coach, but one thing that’s certainly a hallmark trait of a Bob Bradley team is preparation. Not everything executes as planned, nor are they always the most pleasing to the eye, but Bradley’s teams are always well prepared for the task at hand.
Their season opening 1-0 victory in Seattle felt more like a fluke with Seattle putting up 22 shots to LAFC’s meager five. It was easy to write them off as lucky in their first MLS game, and the shot charts reflect that. Read More
Welcome to the newest ASA series, which we’re calling Lowered Expectations. Each week, we’re going to post chalkboards and GIFs of the week’s best open play shot attempts that did not end in goals. With each one we will not only evaluate the results, but also the process that led to these chances. Read More
Those of you that have been hanging around American Soccer Analysis for a while might recall a metric that measures a team’s tactical proactivity. Despite efforts to come up with something catchier, it’s been dubbed “PScore”, and the goal is to develop a simple way to examine the aggressiveness of teams from both an offensive and defensive point of view. In essence it separates the bunker and counter teams from the Liverpool-esque possession oriented teams, and also calls out the teams with no discernible identity.
PScore has undergone many tweaks over the years but now it’s been scored consistently for MLS covering the last three seasons. The following is a look at how the league is shifting tactically at a macro level and also how specific teams have been evolving over the years. Read More
Recently, while trying to put a finger on what exactly happened with FC Dallas last season, “lack of squad consistency” was mentioned as a reason for their remarkable plummet down the table. This made me wonder both how much their roster actually changed from week-to-week and how much week-to-week rotation is the right amount.
The following is my initial exploration into roster consistency. Read More
Major League Soccer just completed a busy offseason with record amounts of money at the disposal of the owners. Roughly 80 players were brought in from outside professional leagues while approximately 50 players departed for those same leagues. That’s roughly the gap created by the addition of LAFC. The assumption is that the league as a whole is doing good business and is improving the league with their new funds, but it’s difficult to measure whether or not that assumption is justified. Read More
Whew! After more than two weeks of team previews, we're finally done. If you missed any or just want to get primed for every team's season, here's the full list:
Atlanta United by Tiotal Football
Chicago Fire by Kevin Minkus
Columbus Crew by Jason Poon
D.C. United by DCU_Exile
Montreal Impact by Aaron Nielsen
New England Revolution by Ian L.
New York City FC by Jared Young
New York Red Bulls by Benjamin Bellman
Orlando City SC by DCU_Exile
Philadelphia Union by Jared Young
Toronto FC by Aaron Nielsen
Western Conference Read More
Colorado Rapids by Benjamin Bellman
FC Dallas by Jason Poon
Houston Dynamo by Drew Olsen
L.A. Galaxy by Harrison Crow
Los Angeles FC by Kevin Shank
Minnesota United by Ian L.
Portland Timbers by Drew Olsen
Real Salt Lake by Jason Poon
San Jose Earthquakes by Kevin Minkus
Seattle Sounders by Harrison Crow
Sporting Kansas City by Kevin Shank
Vancouver Whitecaps by Aaron Nielsen
In October of 2014, it was announced that an expansion team was coming to Los Angeles. Three and a half years later, it seems like LAFC are still waiting for a full team. That’s not to say that head coach Bob Bradley cannot field a talented or competitive team, but with only 20 players on their roster, 2018 will be a long season if they cannot fill out their team.
LAFC’s current situation seems like a mix between 2017 expansion sides of Atlanta and Minnesota with their top-level coach, headline-worthy foreign signings, and a thin roster that leaves people wondering where this team will finish. While this is not Bob Bradley’s first time coaching in MLS or even managing an expansion team, it’s clear that this is a different league than what he oversaw up until 2006. Nevertheless, Bradley will be a great coach for the Black and Gold as he has one of the more impressive resumes in the league (although I bet Atlanta’s Tata Martino or NYCFC’s Patrick Vieira couldn’t last 85 days managing an EPL side). Read More
On the back of humanitarian and league MVP Diego Valeri, the 2017 Timbers won the Western Conference and thought they had a chance at a second MLS Cup. Unfortunately, injuries struck at the worst time and they bowed out of the playoffs with barely a whimper. With a new coach and some shrewd offseason signings, Portland will try again to end their season with an addition to their trophy case. Read More
Toronto was arguably the best team in MLS history last season, on their way to their first Eastern Conference title, their first Supporters' Shield, and their first MLS Cup trophy. They've only added more talent in 2018 so are hoping to do it all again, this time with a CONCACAF Champions League trophy thrown in. Read More
The Seattle Sounders have been to eight straight playoffs, two straight MLS Cups. They even won one of those cups, despite (roughly) accruing a combined 0.5 expected goals between BOTH matches. 2018 projects to be another successful season for a team with talent from stem to sturn, but with back to back off-seasons of only six weeks for a team whose first choice eleven run north of the MLS age median, there is plenty of inherited risk. Read More