The Vancouver Whitecaps' 2018 season was dull. Their biggest highlight last season wasn't Alphonso Davies's dazzling dribbles, nor his record-breaking sale to Bayern Munich. It certainly wasn't their dirty laundry washing exercise in the form of a season-ending press conference. The players must have found out the management had decided to clean house before they publicly lashed out at each other. The decision to rebuild is painful, but it was also Vancouver's best accomplishment last year.Read More
Welcome to Lowered Expectations, week 29 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.Read More
The press (whether high, counter, or other) is in vogue in MLS. MLS teams are, on average, they pressiest they’ve ever been. The Red Bulls, NYCFC, Atlanta, and New England all primarily defend in some form of press. A handful of other teams - Sporting Kansas City and LAFC most prominently - go to it on occasion. Orlando City began the season trying to play a higher pressure defense:Read More
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.
This week I’m going to do something a bit different. Don’t worry, you’ll still get to see the top assists of the week (based on the quality of chance they create, rather than the awesomeness of the actual pass, a fact that seems extra evident this week), and you’ll still get gifs of fun goals. That said, with it being the beginning of the World Cup, I’m also going to take a look at some of the players MLS is sending to Russia and what stands out about them.Read More
Forty minutes into the Vancouver Whitecaps’ 5-2 splintering of Orlando City SC, Jason Kreis yanked Will Johnson from the game. Johnson was on a yellow card and had just been annihilated by the 17-year-old Alphonso Davies on the Whitecaps’ first goal, one of many instances in which Davies had sent Johnson spinning. In the GIF to the right you can see the exact moment when Johnson’s soccer soul died on the BC Place turf.Read More
Welcome to Setting the Table, where 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. This is were we focus on chances that ended with the ball in the back of the net.
#5 Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Ola Kamara, L.A. Galaxy, 59th minute, 0.411 expected goals
Passes in sequence: 5
Two excellent articles were written in the past few days that both featured a facet of the game that’s becoming increasingly integral to how MLS plays: verticality. Matthew Doyle looked at verticality as it applies to teams, and Will Parchman touched on about verticality in the context of a specific player, Alphonso Davies. It’s a topic I approached tangentially here, but I don’t think verticality and pace, or directness and pace, are perfect substitutes.
There are a number of metrics already in the public sphere to measure this verticality, and I think looking at them can better inform the current conversation. One of the most intuitive, especially for individual players, is yards run forward while on the ball. Michael Caley was, I think, the first person I’d seen use it widely, and he occasionally looks at these numbers for the Big 5 leagues. I’m doing a bit of interpolation to calculate it here, by inferring forward distance based on the end location of a pass to the recipient, and the starting location of his next pass.
Here are the top ten players so far this season, in yards progressed forward while on the ball, per 90 (data is prior to the New England - San Jose game, and I’ve filtered it down to only those players who have played more than 180 minutes):Read More