Here's the weird thing about New York City Football Club in the Year of Our Lord 2019: after all the autumnal sturm und drang, the late-season slide, the second-round playoff bounce, and Domènec Torrent's desastre of a postseason presser, the club had a whole offseason to clean house and bring in Torrent's team and they just kind of ... didn't. What you'll see on opening day is more or less the same lineup you know and love (or used to love last summer but now hate with a burning passion because they lost some soccer games). Even my boy Ben Sweat's still out there, which can be a beautiful thing as long as a foul pole’s obstructing your view of the defensive third.
So, uh, what gives? Allow me to resubmit to you the possibility that Dome’s team was maybe actually not that bad at soccer last season. That in fact their +0.55 expected goal differential per game was the second best in MLS during Torrent’s tenure, a marked improvement from under Patrick Vieira. And that their best run of games came without David Villa or Yangel Herrera, this offseason’s two major departures. Maybe Claudio Reyna wasn’t crazy to think all this team needed was a few new pieces for things to fall into place. Read More
Short passes dominate every soccer game. They are the most abundant on-the-ball action. But the variation in short pass accuracy is small; the difference in short pass success rates between the best and the worst team in MLS is 13%. For a typical game with about 400 short passes, the difference represents 52 more successful attempts, or one extra pass every two minutes. How much impact can these extra passes have?
Atlanta United is especially dependent on short passes that lead to shots. What would a few more short passes mean for their offense? Yankee Stadium is a tough place for any visiting team. Critics say that it is too small, and only New York City FC play well there. How exactly do they take advantage of the home turf?
The best way to approach these questions other than watching thousands of clips is to make a model with data and use it to examine or even predict what a team excels or suffers. There isn’t one... yet. Can we make one? Read More
How do you analytically measure a high defensive line and defensive pressing (see StatsBomb pressing index and Jamon's piece from a couple weeks ago)? Do we have enough data and information to analyze this behavior? If we do, how do these tactics impact the performance of a team? Read More
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. Read More
After earning the club their first playoff appearance in year two, expectations continue to rise for NYCFC. Coach Patrick Vieira is seen as one of the best young coaches in MLS, and the team appears to have added even more talent in the offseason. Still, their superstars continue to age - can they still be relied on to carry the team in terms of workload and minutes in 2017?
2016 in review
Last year was a tale of two seasons for NYCFC. The first half was a continuation of the struggles of their inagural season, and NYC managed to earn only 18 points in their first 15 games. The nadir of that stretch was the now-famous 7-0 loss at home to their neighboring-state rivals. Skeptics began to question if Vieira would even last as long as his predecessor Jason Kreis did.
But that 7-0 humiliation was also the season debut for Frank Lampard, and his return (symbolic or not) coincided with dramatic improvement in form. Over the remaining 19 games of the season they averaged almost two points per game and went from being well out of the playoff race to finishing 2nd in the Eastern Conference. Lampard certainly added something to the midfield, as his 8.17 expected goals and assists were 2nd best on the team, despite his playing only 1342 minutes. With Lampard’s return, what had been a chaotic and inconsistent series of lineups from Vieira found some stability as the team’s form improved. Read More