In addition to being one of the most storied rivalries in MLS history, the California Classico has an extra flair to it in 2019. New San Jose manager Matias Almeyda played for and managed Argentinian giant River Plate, and new LA Galaxy manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto played for and managed their hated rival Boca Juniors. In addition to that, Almeyda managed Banfield for a period, the rival of Lanús, where Schelotto managed his first side. So on paper the coaching matchup should be about equal. In reality, it hasn’t been.
Following San Jose’s 3-0 win in the first edition of the 2019 California Clasico, LA Galaxy manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto and captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic dismissed the win, claiming that the scoreline was not reflective of the close nature of the match. After all, the Galaxy were missing key players Jonathan dos Santos and Uriel Antuna, who were away on Gold Cup duty. Earthquakes homegrown player Tommy Thompson was dismissive of the comments, remarking that “there’s always a scoreboard, after the game and it said 3-0.” For the rematch only two weeks later, the table was set for a very interesting tactical matchup between two new managers trying to implement their philosophy into their clubs. In actuality, Almeda’s side came out on top again, this time by a score of 3-1. Read More
2018 In Review
The “wooden spoon” award has its roots in the University of Cambridge. It would be awarded to the student who had the lowest marks but still earned a third-class degree. There are also three degrees in MLS: Those who win silverware, those who make the playoffs, and those who do not make the playoffs. Given MLS does not have relegation, obtaining (I almost said “winning” there) the Wooden Spoon just means one still gets to play the next year at the same level. In 2017, the Independent Supporters Council, who instituted the Wooden Spoon award in 2015, renamed it the Anthony Precourt Memorial Wooden Spoon.
This is not the trophy San Jose Earthquakes General Manager Jesse Fioranelli had in mind at the beginning of 2018. He attempted big splashes, signing Allsvenskan Golden Boot winner Magnus Eriksson as a designated player, a fellow Swede to go along with a “real” manager Mikael Stahre (replacing not-interim/interim first-time coach Chris Leitch), also from the Allsvenskan. In keeping the attacking core from 2017 who helped the team snatch the final playoff spot despite a -21 goal differential, plus adding Eriksson, finally getting Panamanian international Harold Cummings healthy, and adding two more young defenders, Fioranelli bet that would be enough to catapult San Jose higher in the Western Conference. It seems he underestimated the MLS talent level compared to middle-of-the-road European leagues and the ability of a foreign coach to quickly integrate a team. Read More
Using xPG variants to assess risk-and-reward of the game
We introduced Expected Possession Goals (xPG) in two recent articles. xPG groups and rates the outcome of a possession and began from an idea that every action in the possession connects to create a shot. Here, we’re introducing new xPG variants, extensions to the original xPG definition to assess the risks and rewards inherent in a soccer possession.
xPG rates a group of uninterrupted events - or when an interruption lasts fewer than two seconds - based on where the ball travels. It assumes the purpose of the possession is to move the ball within shooting distance. Read More
Expected goals (xG) has finally made it, the Times of London are including an alternate table for the English Premier League based upon per game xG for this season. While using only which team had the highest xG in a game for determining a winner is problematic, it is still a step in the right analytical direction. 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
San Jose made big strides in 2017 to go from the second worst team in the West to a playoff team. After adding more talent, and some youth, they’ll hope to build on that for 2018.
The 2017 San Jose Earthquakes ended the season with a -21 goal differential, the worst ever of any team to make the playoffs. But, they did make the playoffs, as the 6th seed in the West. And, after missing out every year since their Supporters’ Shield winning 2012, that was rightfully cause for celebration among Quakes fans, despite bowing out to the Whitecaps 5-0 in the knockout round. Read More
Two potentially paradigm-shifting events took place in the last few weeks leading up to MLS’s All-Star Game media blitz. Tens of thousands of excellent words were written about the massive trade that sent Dom Dwyer from Kansas City to Orlando (including two pieces from our very own Harrison Crow). In light of that shift, what it means for those two teams right now is almost a secondary concern compared to what it means for the league now and in the near future.
Many fewer words were written on San Jose’s only slightly less landscape-altering announcement. The Earthquakes announced a partnership with Second Spectrum, a company that provides data and analytics built around its player tracking system. Details on the exact nature of the partnership are obviously sparse, but it looks like it will make San Jose the first (I believe) club in MLS to have access to tracking data from their games. It will potentially extend to its academy. The partnership is the latest evidence that San Jose’s new GM, Jesse Fioranelli, intends to make the Quakes one of the league’s most forward-thinking teams. Read More
2016 was another forgettable year among many (since 2012) for Quakes fans. The team finished with just 38 points, eight points out of the playoff race. That finish was good for 9th in the West, and 17th in the overall league table. The team actually got off to a decent start, with four wins in their first eight, but they couldn't keep that momentum going. From May 22nd to August 5th, the team won just one game, and then only two more through the rest of the year.
The team’s defense kept them in most games - they had the fifth best xGA in the league and the fifth best shots against. San Jose’s real problem was chance creation. They averaged just 12 shots per game, third worst in the league, and only 8.8 key passes per game - second worst in the league. Many of those chances came from balls lumped into the box from out wide - they averaged 21 crosses per game, second most in the league.
More Goonie talk below the jump. Read More
With a cross to through ball ratio of 17-1 in a league where few teams break 5-1, San Jose in 2015 continued their storied tradition of raising their middle finger to modern soccer and losing on their own boring and regressive terms. Tackle, tackle, cross, cross, etc. The reason for this style runs to the core of San Jose's identity as a blue collar club that doesn't seem to put value on creativity or play making. One the most fan maligned players on that club, for instance, is Matias Perez Garcia. Boo! Hiss! Look how terrible this dude is after the jump. Read More