Postseason Preview: DC United by Joseph Lowery

D.C. United are one of the hottest teams in Major League Soccer. In one of the most incredible turnarounds in MLS history, D.C. have gone from Eastern Conference cellar dwellers to clinching a playoff spot. You have to go all the way back to August 26th (two months ago!) to find their last loss. What changed between the struggling D.C. United team we saw at the beginning of the season and the confident, playoff bound team they are now?

Read More

Postseason Preview: RBNY by Cheuk Hei Ho

The New York Red Bulls have enjoyed an excellent season. They are second in the league and have grabbed the highest number of points in the club history. They surely have an eye on the biggest prize.

The Red Bulls are famous for their high pressing approach and frenetic pace. Their chaotic gameplay masks their articulated execution in the offensive phase. The Red Bulls suffer when they don't press, but we don't know what aspect of the game their pressing effects. With the playoffs' seeding almost decided, we can now get a glimpse of how the Red Bulls should approach their potential opponent.

Read More

Postseason Preview: Philadelphia Union by Jared Young

Is this the year that the Philadelphia Union break through? That is the big question on the minds of the Union faithful. In their nine seasons the team has reached the MLS Cup playoffs three times and matched that with three US Open Cup Final appearances, but they’ve collected a record of 0 wins and 6 losses in those pivotal moments. Generally speaking they’ve been outclassed in these games as well, allowing 13 goals and scoring just 4. Are these results just the growing pains of a new franchise or is something else going on?

Read More

Postseason Preview: FC Dallas by Harrison Hamm

Dallas have stabilized from last season’s epic collapse, enough to challenge for the top of the Western Conference and position themselves well in a wide open landscape. They would have been in in pole position for first-place had they not lost 3-0 to Sporting KC in Week 33.  

New contributors have replaced old stalwarts, part of an on-the-fly rebuild initiated by their 2017 fall from grace. Mauro Diaz and Kellyn Acosta were sent away this summer. Walker Zimmerman was traded in the offseason. Players like Reggie Cannon, Victor Ulloa and Santiago Mosquera carved out regular roles over phased-out veterans.

Read More

Postseason Preview: LAFC by Jamon Moore

n one year of existence, Los Angeles Football Club have earned my respect, not my disdain. From the very beginning this club has seemed to do everything right, from their ownership group, to their colors, to their stadium, to their manager and then their roster construction -- everything has come together very well to this point. It’s difficult to hate on them for it. With that said, let’s talk about this LAFC team and their chances in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup playoffs.

Read More

Expected Narratives Week 33: End of Year Awards 2018 by Ian L.

It was a pretty light weekend in Major League Soccer featuring a match seeking to answer that age old question “what happens when the opposite of an immovable object meets the opposite of an unstoppable force?” The answer? Colorado wins 2-0, I guess. That match will probably be remembered more for the altercation following the final whistle which featured two players being showed red cards FIFTEEN minutes into stoppage time so I guess Colorado and MInnesota aren't’ best friends now, which could be problematic as previously they seem to be the only destinations that would actually want some of the other’s lackluster players. I sure hope they work it out. I’ve got $5 on a Franz Pangop for Yannick Boli trade.

But also, Oh my god DC United are just so irresistible right now. It’s like watching Michael Jordan in that flu game but instead of Michael Jordan it’s more like BJ Armstrong and instead of the flu it had something vaguely to do with raccoons. I predicted a few weeks ago that this team would find its way to the postseason and I’m feeling more and more confident about this every week. Watching people eat their crow flavored Pot Noodle about Wayne Rooney has become appointment viewing during office hours. To say Rooney has been a revelation is only true if you’re one of these people who have apparently never once watched Wayne Rooney play soccer. You aren’t seeing some surprising late career renaissance version of a softer more reflective Rooney, you’re getting the same bullish kid in a dad’s body with an innate ability to grab a game by the scruff of its neck and drag it wherever he wants.

Read More

Expected Possession Goals GameFlow: Taking a Ride Into the Danger Zone by Jamon Moore

A few weeks ago, we introduced Expected Possession Goals (xPG) GameFlow, a visualization of the momentum of a soccer match from kickoff to final whistle of each game. xPG GameFlow uses the accumulation of Chance xPG to measure the strength of an opportunity for a team to get a shot. The higher the Chance xPG differential between the teams, the longer the bar for that minute for the team with the higher amount. Quite often goals are scored when the momentum bars on the xPG GameFlow chart are at their longest.

Many people have asked us, “what is the difference between xPG and xG?” or “how does xPG translate to xG or to goals?” To aid xPG GameFlow in answering questions such as “which team had the better chances?” and “when should a team have scored?”, we introduced a couple improvements after the first week of tweeting MLS game charts on @GameFlowxPG. I wanted to provide more context for these improvements and dive deeper into them.

Read More

Setting the Table Week 32: Lee Nguyen's new role, the rise of Ebobisse, and Mutch ado about nothing 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.

Read More

Reinventing the passing wheel: What determines a good passer? by Eliot McKinley

Directional Passes Over Expected: Where do players exceed passing expectations?

During the National League Wildcard playoff game, American Soccer Analysis contributor and Lamar Hunt US Open Cup champion, Sean Steffen tweeted about the baseball stat Directional Outs Above Average. This metric tells you about the defensive range of an outfielder, with positive values indicating a direction where the player is better than average at creating an out and negative where the player is below average. Obviously, this exact type of metric cannot be used in soccer, but it did inspire me to figure out how something like it could be used. Thus, Directional Passes Over Expected (DPOE) was born.

Read More

Little Things from Week 31: Dallas’ Quiet Dominance & Villalba’s Tact by Harrison Hamm

FC Dallas, slowing things down

I don’t know how one would go about measuring a soccer team’s pace of play. It’s possible, even easy, in basketball, where you can measure possessions per 48 minutes and generally find out how fast teams play. Soccer does not have the defined possessions of basketball; every possession is not created equal, so there’s no easy way to generalize them.

Read More