This past offseason Dallas hired Academy Director Luchi Gonzalez as the teams new head coach and Oscar Pareja’s replacement. Gonzalez was commissioned with the task of integrating the organization’s youth with the first team. This is a rather fitting assignment since over the last three years Gonzalez was, as mentioned, the Academy Director.
Obviously Gonzalez is going to be the one who best knows what Dallas has in terms of young talent, and how to find a tactical style that best fits their pieces. He’s brought with him fresh tactics to incorporate the young talented players, and he comes at a time when Dallas needed a twist to their first team’s style. The departure of Mauro Diaz, the little unicorn, has caused consternation in how the attack operated after his transfer and lead to issues of its own last summer. Read More
There's something great about knockout tournaments, especially involving teams that are completely unfamiliar with each other. NCAA March Madness and the World Cup are perfect examples; seeing your favorite team play against a relative unknown like Murray St. or Ghana carries a little extra intrigue than your average game against a conference opponent. For MLS fans, CONCACAF Champions League embodies this opportunity.
Increasingly, CCL has been painted as an MLS vs. Liga MX referendum, one in which MLS teams steadily gain but never overtake Mexico's dominant position in the region. But lost in that narrative is that CCL includes teams from a handful of other countries, too. These MLS-Liga MX matchups will get the majority of publicity (starting with Sporting KC-Toluca in the first knockout round), but seven other MLS/Liga MX teams have to knock off Central American or Caribbean opponents before those glamour matchups are set in stone. If you think these first round matchups are just a formality, just ask an FC Dallas fan how their campaign went last year (spoiler alert: they lost to Panamanian side Tauro before they even got to face a Mexican team). Read More
Machine learning is so hot right now and if Skynet is going to destroy all humans, it should at least know a little bit about Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew. To wit, I created a machine learning model to classify which position in a Gregg Berhalter 4-2-3-1 formation a player most likely played in during a single game.
I chose the Crew for a couple reasons. First, they are my favorite team. Second, they had consistent coaching for a long period of time with a defined style of play. The latter is very important, as the model has to be trained well in order for the results to make sense. Since the Crew almost always played a 4-2-3-1 that relied on ball possession to disorganize the defense and create goal opportunities (get used to that phrase USMNT fans) it was a perfect test of whether this kind of thing could be done. Read More
The MLS playoff drama is peaking with all but a half dozen teams dreaming of postseason glory. All the teams have played their tactical cards by now and the chess matches from here on out should be very entertaining. It’s therefore high time to look at a model whose goal is to examine the very chess moves that teams are making and look for insights. The Proactivity Score (Pscore), an attempt to numerically represent a teams basic tactical approach, has been updated through August 27th and there are some interesting new trends. Here’s a chart of where teams stand: Read More
xN is our weekly look at what you can expect to read, write, and discuss about Major League Soccer this week. We take a look at each prospective narrative and rate it based on its strength and whether or not it has any actual merit.
The good news is that aside from this sentence, I’m not going write a single word about video review this week. Nay, much more compelling narratives are swirling about, mostly regarding fanbases posturing at each other in a miasma of insecurity or self loathing. We have Orlando claiming to be the real deal. Atlanta continuing to make light work of their opponents, and Seattle fans in their annual early season bout of despair. Needless to say, it’s a good time to be writing about narratives. Read More