Stefan Frei

Lowered Expectations: The International "Break" by Harrison Crow

I know that everyone is pretty wrapped up with the International Break and how awesome it has been for those in North America between Canada winning twice, Mexico looking like a world power, and the US ... well, two out of three isn’t bad right?

 But don’t forget we had Major League Soccer last weekend! So let’s talk about that and the happiness associated five missed golden opportunities, as we do every week. Let’s get it!

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Seattle Sounders 2019 Season Preview by Ian L.

I suppose that by Seattle’s lofty standards you could consider last season to be a bit of a disappointment. For the first time in three years, they weren’t contesting the MLS Cup final, having been knocked from the competition in heartbreaking fashion by Portland on penalties after 120 minutes of what can very reasonably be called the most exciting playoff match in team history. So how do you bounce back? Is there actually anything to bounce back from? Why don’t teams have long-sleeved jersey options all of a sudden? What’s actually going on with Adidas anyway? If the Seattle Sounders were a character in Game of Thrones which one would they be? We shall endeavor to answer some of these questions within.

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Ranking MLS' Best Foreign Goalkeepers by Bill Reno

It’s hard not to have a love-hate relationship with the MLS offseason. On one hand, we get to talk about goalkeepers more often. (A massive plus for anyone.) Typically the narrative wraps up a year-long performance in one or two sentences - “Goalkeeper X will look to build off of last year’s success by relying on his shot stopping and distribution skills.” - but that’s hardly a problem considering the larger headache that resurfaces this time of year. Every January we hear about an unnamed MLS team being linked to a foreign goalkeeper. We just had one happen last week, with a “lucrative offer” apparently on the table for a German goalkeeper.

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Postseason Preview: Seattle Sounders FC by Ian L.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The start to the 2018 campaign was, at best, a complete and utter disaster. Expectations were high for a team that had just made its second consecutive MLS Cup final appearance. You don’t usually see trains derail without gaining any significant speed or momentum, but somehow that’s exactly what happened here.

Jordan Morris, coming off of an injury and a disappointing sophomore campaign looked primed to return to the form that saw him capture Rookie of the Year honors in 2016, instead he suffered another devastating season ending injury and Seattle went from dreams of CCL Glory to that one where you show up to class naked and have to take a final you didn’t study for.

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Little Things from Week 19: Luis Gil's first touch, Khiry Shelton’s strengths and weaknesses and Laurent Ciman’s fizzing set pieces by Harrison Hamm

Luis Gil’s first touch and the beauty of the best players

In the later stages of the midweek 2-2 draw between the Houston Dynamo and LAFC, as the Dynamo chased LA’s 2-0 lead, Luis Gil had a play that demonstrated the importance of the first touch, and how difficult it can be for even professional players to combine the mental foresight and technical ability required to make even simple passes.

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2017 MLS Goalkeeping in Review by Bill Reno

It’s that time of year again. Every October excitement fills the air over fans and media answering the question “who was the best goalkeeper in MLS this year?” Let no fanbase’s optimism come into question, as just about each one thinks their team has one of the best goalkeepers in the league. But the award is a true test only the most recent meritocracy. It forgets the past and rewards the present. To put it more simply, if the MLS GOTY award had a muppet doppelganger, without question it would be the jolly Ghost of Christmas Present from the Muppet Christmas Carol. A goalkeeper could have a constant howler in 2016 but be redeemed through grit and hard work in 2017. A young goalkeeper could be thrust into the limelight and propel their career forward. An aging veteran could finally receive the recognition they've worked so hard for. There are too many fantastic narratives to come to fruition and only one can actualize.

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Seattle Sounders 2017 Season Preview by Benjamin Harrison

One is tempted - given the Seattle Sounders' dramatic recovery of a seemingly lost 2016 season to seize a playoff berth, and, ultimately, the MLS Cup - to take those last 14 games (plus the playoffs) as the best sign of what the team has to offer in the coming season. But with new acquisitions bolstering the bench, players developing in key positions, others returning from injury, and still others adjusting adjusting to the league, the team could easily see improvements over the championship campaign. Designated Player Clint Dempsey was available for only four games of Seattle's stretch run thanks to a heart condition, but is now cleared to play. Brad Evans struggled with injuries throughout the last half of the season. Young starters Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan are a year older and more experienced. Left back Joevin Jones is entering his physical prime. Even if the Sounders have not put the dire days fully behind them, this is a team that should expect to make the playoffs and contend in the postseason.

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2016 ASA PREVIEW: SEATTLE SOUNDERS by Harrison Crow

It’s fair to say that the Sounders are one of the most despised team in MLS. But strip away the fans, Alonso’s crunching tackles, the cheeky Dempsey smirk, the league moves that “just so happen” to coincide with things going the Sounders way (as *if* by magic!) and what do you have? 

The answer is simple: a team that makes smart business decisions and continually puts their organization in the best possible position to consistently win games.

But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. More after the jump.

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2015 in MLS Goalkeepers, and looking ahead to 2016 by Bill Reno

2015 was an up and down year for MLS goalkeeping. We had some surprise seasons from Stefan Frei, Tyler Deric, and David Ousted, all of which had question marks going into 2015 but clearly did work during the offseason to prepare themselves for the year. Now moving forward, each club’s fan base is excited for their goalkeeper and is probably calling them “one of the best in the league”. Jesse Gonzalez matched the young blood theme in Dallas and gave a great performance against Seattle that went into penalties. David Bingham earned praise for finally taking over the starting role in San Jose and Old Man Saunders led the league in saves with New York City. Even Brek Shea notched himself a great save for the season.

Tim Melia returned from the abyss to start for Sporting Kansas City and won perhaps the most ambiguous MLS award: Comeback Player of the Year. But most notably, Luis Robles won Goalkeeper of the Year after winning the Supporters’ Shield with New York Red Bulls. He was rewarded with a USMNT call up and hopes to add on to his single cap with the upcoming friendlies.

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Measuring Goalkeepers: The Limitations of Goals - xGoals by Bill Reno

Last month we took a look at how bad the Goals Against Average (GAA) stat is for evaluating goalkeepers and how the save percentage (S%) is slightly better. To show the inefficiencies of the GAA and S%, I compared them to ASA’s own unique stat of Goals Minus Expected Goals (GmxG). The GmxG looks at where shots are taken, calculating the likelihood of a shot going in from that distance and angle to goal, which ends up telling us if a goalkeeper is giving up too many goals given the circumstances. This is great for a couple of reasons, the main one being that we have a more accurate reading on shots on goal than the ol’ shot percentage. If one goalkeeper consistently sees shots from distance while another is routinely left out to dry by his defense, the GmxG will let us know how many goals each goalkeeper should be conceding even if their SOG and goals are similar. However there are some shortcomings with any stat and the GmxG isn’t any different.

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