The game is ice hockey. One team is behind a goal as the seconds wind down. Conventional thinking for the head coach of the losing team is to direct the goalie off the ice while a substitute enters the game. This gives the team a six to five player advantage at one end of the ice, but gives the leading team a much higher chance of adding to their lead. Starting in 2013 NHL teams became more aggressive with this strategy, and a paper released earlier this year proposed that teams should get at least three times as aggressive as they are. The math clearly lines up with the strategy.Read More
Attack The Net
I asked the question on Twitter, "how many teams have been better than Chicago since the arrival of Mike Magee?" Let's take a look at the results of games played since the acquisition of Magee on May 24th.
I think we knew that the Fire have been good since the arrival of Magee, but just how good is pretty surprising. Adding to the surprise are both the Whitecaps and Revolution with 1.6 points per game. Looking to the bottom of the table we see how far FC Dallas has dropped since their hot start to the season.
I know that we all like to think that the results in March and April are vital, and to a degree they are---there is no way that FC Dallas is even considering a run at the playoffs if it wasn't for how they performed in Mar/Apr---however, the season is long; there are nearly 8 months and 34 games.
I've long been of the belief that one player in soccer doesn't make that big of a difference on an entire season and it's table location. Sure, maybe Clint Dempsey takes Seattle from being an injury prone playoff-ish team to a contender for the Supporters Shield. But Chicago was, and is now, much better. Along with Chicago, New England's performance needs mention too.
Currently, the minute men have 17 points through 8 matches with Juan Agudelo in the line-up. Something pointed out to me by the folks over at Deep in the Fort. It's also a conclusion that makes me question how much that's true and how much a really good player can impact a season for a club.
Obviously it needs a much closer observance than a single table of points over a time period. There are other factors to consider with both clubs. Regression, sample size, ect. But there is enough there to at least consider further research into the thought that some players can mean big things for the right club.
Today, I was asked simply, which team has the best pairing in MLS? It's a good question, and oddly one that I've been asked a lot and. Despite the frequency of requests, it's something that I have trouble answering. There are a lot of ways to measure performance for attacking personnel, but due to my time restraints I found the easiest way to do this was to go to Squawka and use their attack score. Below is a listing of teams and their two highest* attacking score combos. Since it's a purely cumulative stat I pro-rated it to 90 minutes. As you probably wouldn't be shocked to find out. Mike Magee, Landon Donovan and Federico Hinguian round out the top-3.
|Player||Team||Minutes||Attack Score||AS per 90|
|Carlos Alvarez||Chivas USA||1653||360||20|
|Eric Avila||Chivas USA||1634||260||14|
|Dwayne De Rosario||DC United||1208||343||26|
|Kyle Porter||DC United||1403||244||16|
|Blas Perez||FC Dallas||1569||584||33|
|Landon Donovan||LA Galaxy||1380||753||49|
|Robbie Keane||LA Galaxy||1320||698||48|
|Marco Di Vaio||Montreal||1868||897||43|
|Diego Fagundez||New England||1621||613||34|
|Lee Nguyen||New England||2137||527||22|
|Thierry Henry||New York||1952||854||39|
|Tim Cahill||New York||1761||441||23|
|Sabastian Le Toux||Philadelphia||1864||729||35|
|Chris Wondolowski||San Jose||1890||530||25|
|Shea Salinas||San Jose||1400||434||28|
|Graham Zusi||Sporting KC||1860||680||33|
|Claudio Bieler||Sporting KC||1986||620||28|
|Jonathan Osorio||Toronto FC||1164||397||31|
|Robert Earnshaw||Toronto FC||1495||333||20|
There are a couple of key individuals missing from this list that may or may not "pop out" at you. The first is Philadelphia's top goal scorer Jack McInereny. Part of this is due to his missing time with the Mens National Team during the early rounds of the Gold Cup tournament. The other part is that outside of his bunches of goals scored early in the season he hasn't done much else with his time.
The other name, though less likely to be spotted, is Luis Silva. Since arriving at DC United, he's posted the top overall score determined by Squawka, as well as the highest rating on Whoscored, with his new club. However, he's only played 5 games and a total of 420 minutes for DCU, so it's a small sample and I decided to drop him from the listing. This lowered DC United's end score rather dramatically and yet corresponds quite well with whatever combination player they might be able to muster.
Now, taking all those dynamic duos and adding them together gave us a combined score of the two best attacking players on each team. Here are those in order.
|AS per 90|
It's not a surprise to see LA at the top of any such list. Robbie Keane and Donovan have long be herald as the best dynamic attacking duo of the league. But if you are looking beyond those two the teams are rather surprising. Vancouver, Chicago, Columbus and Philly all make up the top-5 with the often scrutinized Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson contributions falling just outside the grouping.
Another interesting note, taking us further towards the discussion of single best player. While individual performances matter, it's about team accomplishment rather than singular performances over the stretch of the season. It's obvious that while Chicago and Columbus both have had outstanding performances from their key men up top, they are lacking something on a team level such that these individual metrics don't correspond entirely to the tables at the end of the day.