Marco Urena

Our Favorite ASA Articles of 2018 by Drew Olsen

During a recent American Soccer Analysis shareholders meeting in the penthouse suite of the swanky hotel we built in Minecraft (it’s our Slack channel), we discussed our favorite ASA articles of the past year. Because it is the season of listicles and we relish every chance to talk about ourselves, we decided to put them all together in one official post. Also, our site traffic is essentially zero at this time of year, so it seemed like an easy way for us to remember where we put them.

It was a great year for MLS (though perhaps not American soccer overall) and the most successful in our five year life as a website. We added interactive tables, introduced xPG, rebooted the podcast (new episode coming out soon! …probably), and added a lot of great new writers to our existing ranks of stale old writers. They’re not all represented in the list below, but special shout out to our weekly contributors who put together content every week - Little Things (@harrisonhamm21), Lowered Expectations (@harrison_crow), Expected Narratives (@ahandleforian), and Setting the Table (@ericwsoccer) - showed us the individual plays each week that made up the whole of the MLS season. We’d also like to extend a special thank you to Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post, for including us as a part of the WaPo’s incredible World Cup coverage.

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LAFC: All About Attacking Depth by Joseph Lowery

Bob Bradley and the Los Angeles Football Club front office have created something few other MLS teams can replicate. They have formed a team that plays one of the more entertaining styles that MLS has ever seen and they are getting results.

LAFC’s brand of soccer is all about controlling the game through passing and dynamic attacking. They pass extremely well in every third of the field (they are in the top five in terms of passing completion percentage in each third), which leads to dangerous attacks pressuring opposing defenses from all areas. The only way this style can be sustained in Major League Soccer is if the team using it has enough players outside of the starting eleven capable of coming into the lineup and playing that style without a clear drop off. In the same way the New York Red Bulls need every single player on their roster to excel at closing down opposing players and cutting off passing angles in their pressing system, LAFC’s style demands that every rostered player is capable of playing their passing, attacking style.

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Where the Ball Was Won: Using Passing Data as an Indicator of Defensive Pressure Points by Jamon Moore

I’m a die-hard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Please don’t leave yet. In case you aren’t paying attention to MLS much this year, the Quakes have been…underperforming, even by their less-than-lofty standards. I was preparing data for an article about the Quakes troubles with defending the opposition Zone 14 (or are you #TeamZone5?) discussing why they have given up a league-high 6 goals there so far this season, when – you may be aware – Matt Doyle (@MattDoyle76) and Bobby Warshaw (@bwarshaw14) publicly blasted the Quakes for the very same issue back on May 27.

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Marcos Ureña, the unsung Hero of LAFC by Kristan Henage

Bob Bradley is precise with his words. "We knew when we picked him [Marcos Ureña] up that we had a player that, around the goal, is sharp," Bradley said in pre-season. "His qualities are valued and he feels comfortable.”

On first viewing, Bradley’s words sound like anything you’d expect from a head coach, especially one trying to motivate a forward with a career record of one goal in five games (apart from internationally where he’s at one in four).

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Setting the Table: Week 9 by Eric Walcott

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

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Lowered Expectations: Week 9 by Harrison Crow

Welcome to Lowered Expectations, the week nine edition! Each week, we go about posting chalkboards and GIFs of the weekend’s best open-play shot attempts that 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 that led to them.

#5 -  Mac Steeves, Houston Dynamo, 91st minute, 0.463 expected goals
Assisted by: Andrew Wenger
Passes in sequence: 2

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