What Waiving Magnus Wolf Eikrem means for the Sounders' Season by Harrison Crow

There is a lot that goes into the signing a player for a club. I couldn’t tell you all the things involved, but my understanding of the situation from others who are far more experienced on the subject is that it’s usually a rather extensive process. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking, navigating an international market, dealing with agents, negotiating contracts, weighing the cost benefit analysis of assets, and doing all those things within Major League Soccer’s byzantine roster rules shouldn’t be looked at as a simple process.

The word out of the Sounders camp last night was that Magnus Wolff Eikrem is going to be waived by the organization tol open up an international spot. International spots are hard to come by in this league and are generally valued over $100,000 in various resources (however we’ve seen them scale up higher later in the season as these resources are generally in even more in demand).

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Setting the Table Week 20 - Steffen's Value, Quintero's Arrival, and Fagundez's Production by Eric Walcott

Welcome to Setting the Table. Each week we take some time to focus on the best chance creators in MLS from the last weekend. If you want to see the best chances that were wasted check out Lowered Expectations. Here we focus on chances that ended with the ball in the back of the net.

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Expected Narratives: The Loony All-StaHres Edition by Ian L.

They say time flies by when you’re arguing over video review, and would you look at that? We’ve crossed the halfway threshold in the 2018 edition of Major League Soccer. The first half of the season has been a lot of fun if you like to read and talk about Atlanta. Last year’s MLS Cup finalists are more or less dead in the water, two of the league’s best coaches just peaced out to Europe, and with the transfer window opening shortly we’re bound to see some table shuffling over the next few months. We’ve been gone on World Cup duty for the last couple of weeks, so there is a lot to talk about now that I’m back from break. We’re gonna hit a few narratives hard and fast so buckle in.

Narrative: The All Star game is stupid.
Narrative Accuracy: Yes.

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Lowered Expectations: Week 20 by Drew Olsen

Welcome to Lowered Expectations, week 20 edition! Each week, we go about posting chalkboards and GIFs of the weekend’s best open-play shot attempts which did not quite live up to expectations (and rarely do we update this paragraph). We look at each one and not only evaluate the results, but also the process leading to them.

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Little Things from Week 20: Tyler Adams' New Role, LAFC's Midfield, and Chad Marshall's Head by Harrison Hamm

Tyler Adams and the New York Red Bulls Under Chris Armas

Tyler Adams, who is two months younger than Kylian Mbappe, is on the verge of becoming a world-class soccer player. After this season, when he (probably) joins Jesse Marsch at RB Leipzig, he will be placed directly on that track.

Already, he’s one of MLS’ best midfielders. His touch percentage of 10.5 percent shows how important he is to the Red Bulls’ system. He fits perfectly into what they want to do — he covers ground, controls himself well in space and wins the ball when he has to.  

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LAFC: All About Attacking Depth by Joseph Lowery

Bob Bradley and the Los Angeles Football Club front office have created something few other MLS teams can replicate. They have formed a team that plays one of the more entertaining styles that MLS has ever seen and they are getting results.

LAFC’s brand of soccer is all about controlling the game through passing and dynamic attacking. They pass extremely well in every third of the field (they are in the top five in terms of passing completion percentage in each third), which leads to dangerous attacks pressuring opposing defenses from all areas. The only way this style can be sustained in Major League Soccer is if the team using it has enough players outside of the starting eleven capable of coming into the lineup and playing that style without a clear drop off. In the same way the New York Red Bulls need every single player on their roster to excel at closing down opposing players and cutting off passing angles in their pressing system, LAFC’s style demands that every rostered player is capable of playing their passing, attacking style.

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Roster Consistency Part Two: Do Consistent Lineups Lead to Better Results? by Dustin Nation

In a previous article, I looked at the effect of roster consistency on overall team performance. There were enough interesting trends in the data that I wanted to look a little closer and try to see if there is a “right” number of changes that teams should make on a week-to-week basis.

After looking at each squad’s rotation and how it affected their performance over the past three years, it makes sense to look at how changing lineups from one week to the next effected team’s performances in that week. That is to say, given a team’s roster changes from the previous week, how likely were they to perform well?

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Reshaping The Game: How Fran Taylor is Using New Tools to Build a Better Team by Mark Asher Goodman

Taylor, the 29-year-old Assistant General Manager for the Colorado Rapids, joined the team in January of this year to bolster the data-driven team of Padraig Smith in trying to use numbers to build a better soccer club. While baseball and basketball teams have adopted advanced metrics to try and divulge information that will give their club a competitive edge in their respective sports, soccer is still finding its way in the moneyball era. Newly discovered numbers are illuminating the game, but only in the hands of those who know what to look for.

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Quantifying Successful Possession (xPG) by Cheuk Hei Ho

Some elements of soccer don’t present a clear and direct interaction with the shot, such as the tactical or the formational change. You can use the location of the players to decipher the shape of a team, but how do you measure the efficiency and the individual contribution of each position? To this end, we developed an xG-based score – Expected Possession Goal (xPG) – that is dependent on the location of the ball but not the shots creation.

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Expected Possession Goals: The Value of a Possession and Comparing xPG to Other Metrics by Jamon Moore

It is probably easier to identify good possession by sight rather than a textbook definition: decisive movement and accurate passing lead to good looks, so I’ve been very interested in whether a metric like xG could quantify the value of a possession. If you have not already read it, please begin with Cheuk Hei’s Expected Possession Goals article [hyperlink: Expected Possession Goals (xPG) as a metric to quantify successful possession]. Expected Possession Goals (xPG) attempts to create a more holistic view of a soccer match by focusing on possessions rather than just shots. Possessions occur at about a 10-to-1 ratio to shots, so they can provide 10x the data for analyzing the flow of a game. Take into account just the average number of passes in a possession, and you get around 3x more data.

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