Hanging Chants: Analyzing MLS Goals of the Week Voting by Eliot McKinley

This week, news that is sure to shatter the confidence of MLS fans broke via Andrew Pearson on twitter: there may be massive election fraud happening during the weekly MLS AT&T Goal of the Week polls. Pearson revealed that Atlanta fans are running up record breaking vote totals by possibly untoward means. Furthermore, MLS may have tipped the scales against Seattle’s Cristian Roldan when the 2019 Week 10 award was handed to Ezequiel Barco despite Roldan winning the popular vote by 18 votes*. As fans, we demand answers. Don Garber should appoint Chris Mueller as an independent counsel to get to the bottom of these alarming reports.

Read More

xN: Deadline Day Musings by Ian L.

It’s always fun to see what happens in MLS when the player store is about to close for the season. Some teams, having resolved all of their player needs early, get to relax and stand in judgment of those teams forced to scamper about on deadline day looking for oh god just ANY decent midfielder please. There’s a parable about an ant and a grasshopper you’ve no doubt heard. The ant stores up all the food they need for winter, while the grasshopper spends its time, I don’t know, hopping on grass I suppose. When winter comes the grasshopper begs the ant for some food but the ant is like lol, and there’s a lesson to be learned in that. Anyway, LAFC are the ant, Colorado are the grasshopper, and New England is the heretofore unseen third character - a drunk shirtless carpet beetle rolling around the snow screaming how they’re going to live forever.

Read More

The Evolution of MLS Penalty Kicks (and How to Fix Them) by Alex Bartiromo

Back in 2017, Vox published a video summarizing research from Michael Mauboussin’s book The Success Equation, which ranked the major team sports on a scale of luck to skill using a formula that included games played, player size, number of possessions, chances, and various other factors. This research wasn’t intended to measure player skill—surprise! professional athletes tend to be very skillful at their chosen sport—but rather how well their sports “capture” that skill. in other words, the study sought to show how well results in those sports could be predicted by player skills. Soccer—specifically, the Premier League—came out as the second most “skill-based” of the major sports, ranking behind only basketball in terms of its non-randomness. Still, as anyone who’s watched any CONCACAF matches can attest, luck is an, um, “relevant” factor in the outcome of a match.

Still, beyond the obvious instances of human fallibility (and the question of if and how much the introduction of VAR has reduced this “luck factor” is a question that should be explored in more depth) the video brings up the question of what aspects of the sport are “lucky” vs. “skilled”, and whether the existing balance of those two is the most desirable.

Read More

Lowered Expectations: Superman, Super miss? by Harrison Crow

Welcome to Lowered Expectations! Here we review some of the weekend’s best open-play shot attempts which did not quite live up to expectations. We break down the GIFs through the lens of our expected goal model and discuss each one evaluating both the results and the process.

Read More

Updated Playoff Seeding Projections by Matthias Kullowatz

We have updated our playoff seeding projections on our web application, which show the probability that each team finishes in each playoff seed postion within its conference. We have done this in years past, but dedicated fans of the site will recognize that this is a bit earlier in the season than usual. Some tweaks to the predictive model have allowed us to publish meaningful predictions sooner! I’m here to tell you about those tweaks.

Read More

CBA Talk: Comparing MLS Player Salaries to Leagues Around the World by Jared Young

Before the 2020 Major League Soccer season begins the owners and players will need to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. Metaphorically speaking, we could compare this negotiation to a pie eating contest, with the wrinkle being there is only one pie, and the goal is to eat the biggest piece. The fans offer the ingredients for this pie in the form of revenue, but it’s the league, the owners and the players who get to eat it. This contest won’t happen on the Coney Island Boardwalk or be streamed on ESPN+, but from time to time someone will emerge with public declarations intended to meddle with our opinions, and therefore put pressure on the other sides of the negotiation. Because we make the pie, you see, we ultimately decide how big it gets, so our opinions matter.

Read More

Expected Narratives: What if it isn't Frank's Fault? by Ian L.

I tried to wait before doing the whole “What is happening to Atlanta?” narrative, because it seemed exactly like the kind of thing that would bite me in the ass within a week of publication. We’re now seven weeks into the new season and last year’s defending champions and league darlings have been almost entirely terrible since the start of the team’s third campaign. I’m bringing it up today because of a tweet I saw that gave me pause like no tweet other than that one about Darryl and Socrates.
(photo courtesy of atlutd.com)

Read More

Lowered Expectations: The Misidentification of Will Johnson by Harrison Crow

Welcome to Lowered Expectations! Here we review some of the weekend’s best open-play shot attempts which did not quite live up to expectations. We break down the GIFs through the lens of our expected goal model and discuss each one evaluating the results, and  also the process.


This week, we have a couple of shots by Houston, which gives us opportunity to discuss their overall team as they leave Week 7 undefeated. Columbus makes a surprise appearance lead by Pedro Santos. Philadelphia gives me an opportunity to rant about crosses. There is a Will Johnson imposter in Orlando, we talk about Big Chances in expected goal models and lastly we take on goals shot from crazy angles!  LET’S GET TO IT!


Read More

Lowered Expectations: We're Back! by Harrison Crow

WELCOME BACK EVERYONE! It’s time for 2019 Lowered Expectations.

Welcome to Lowered Expectations, 2019 edition! Each week, we go about reviewing 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.

Read More