Wayne Rooney

xN: Deadline Day Edition by Ian L.

I’m writing this as Dave Kasper is likely just rolling around his office covered in fax paper shouting orders to his underlings and swinging for the rafters with wild abandon. Yes. The fact that MLS is about to be used as leverage for a much more lucrative move to China for Mesut Ozil shows just how far we’ve come as a league in the last few years. What about Mario Balotelli? DC United is interested and so the dream continues to live, teasing us mercilessly. If there is one thing that Washington DC needs in 2020 it is Mario Balotelli storming around the capital doing crazy Mario Balotelli stuff like, I don’t know, pushing a tourist into the reflecting pool and then handing them $1800 cash. It boggles the mind really. Ola Kamara is already on his way to DC United and someone should probably tell him ahead of time if he’s going to be replaced once again by one of the world’s most infamous soccer personalities. But all that is for later. Right now let’s just close our eyes and imagine DC United setting Wayne Rooney free only to be rewarded with Ola Kamara, Mario Balotelli, and Mesut Ozil. Ha. Nah…


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Expected Narratives: A Bad Defense of a Bad Defense by Ian L.

We’re back! MLS has returned and as goeth MLS so too goeth the takes. Now, it would obviously be silly to make any grand sweeping proclamations based on only one week of soccer. It would be pointless, likely incorrect, and wildly irresponsible. So obviously we’re going to do it anyway. Let’s get that narrative machine cranked up!

Chatter amongst the savvier MLS analysts has been about Atlanta and SKC rising to dominate their divisions. While I don’t exactly have a seat at that particularly niche Algonquin round table, I do try and make myself available to refill their drinks or mop up any spills Tenorio makes when he gets over excited about a scoop, and impressionable as I am, I too was convinced of these teams being unmatched in their respective divisions. I think a good many MLS enthusiast was surprised to see the opening weekend come and go with neither of the presumptive divisional favorites taking even a point, and Atlanta being the only team in the entire league that couldn’t even muster a goal.

Benny Olsen should charge 200k TAM per team and offer up whatever he’s figured out that often makes Atlanta become utterly pedestrian when they come up against mighty DC. Actually, it seems like whatever the Red Bulls do also works more often than not.

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DC United 2019 Season Preview by ExiledMLS

The opening of Audi Field and the addition of Wayne Rooney at the halfway point of the 2018 season propelled DC United into an unlikely playoff appearance after a 11-2-4 run in the second half of the season. With a balanced schedule, a brand new home stadium, and an even more talented squad, the black-and-red have set their eyes on the possibility of winning silverware in 2019.

2018 In Review

In last year’s 2018 season preview for DC United, we generally predicted that it could be a season of two halves, and it was! (It feels good to be right once in a while, doesn’t it?) Up until the grand opening of Audi Field in July, the black-and-red played 13 away games and just 4 home games in the first half of the season. Two of these four home games were at alternate venues in the DMV area. Not surprisingly, DC had a 3-9-5 record and just 14 points at the half-way point of the 2018 season.

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Expected Narratives Week 33: End of Year Awards 2018 by Ian L.

It was a pretty light weekend in Major League Soccer featuring a match seeking to answer that age old question “what happens when the opposite of an immovable object meets the opposite of an unstoppable force?” The answer? Colorado wins 2-0, I guess. That match will probably be remembered more for the altercation following the final whistle which featured two players being showed red cards FIFTEEN minutes into stoppage time so I guess Colorado and MInnesota aren't’ best friends now, which could be problematic as previously they seem to be the only destinations that would actually want some of the other’s lackluster players. I sure hope they work it out. I’ve got $5 on a Franz Pangop for Yannick Boli trade.

But also, Oh my god DC United are just so irresistible right now. It’s like watching Michael Jordan in that flu game but instead of Michael Jordan it’s more like BJ Armstrong and instead of the flu it had something vaguely to do with raccoons. I predicted a few weeks ago that this team would find its way to the postseason and I’m feeling more and more confident about this every week. Watching people eat their crow flavored Pot Noodle about Wayne Rooney has become appointment viewing during office hours. To say Rooney has been a revelation is only true if you’re one of these people who have apparently never once watched Wayne Rooney play soccer. You aren’t seeing some surprising late career renaissance version of a softer more reflective Rooney, you’re getting the same bullish kid in a dad’s body with an innate ability to grab a game by the scruff of its neck and drag it wherever he wants.

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Lowered Expectations: Week 31 by Harrison Crow

Welcome to Lowered Expectations, week 29 edition! Each week, we go about posting chalkboards and GIFs of the weekend’s best open-play shot attempts which 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 leading to them.

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The case for pulling the goalie in soccer and the math behind Ben Olsen's madness by Jared Young

The game is ice hockey. One team is behind a goal as the seconds wind down. Conventional thinking for the head coach of the losing team is to direct the goalie off the ice while a substitute enters the game. This gives the team a six to five player advantage at one end of the ice, but gives the leading team a much higher chance of adding to their lead. Starting in 2013 NHL teams became more aggressive with this strategy, and a paper released earlier this year proposed that teams should get at least three times as aggressive as they are. The math clearly lines up with the strategy.

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Expected Narratives: Wazza Saves DC and Josef Martinez is not an Elite Finisher by Ian L.

Ah, Rivalry Week sponsored by Heineken. Who doesn’t want to ride for this twice annual celebration of American soccer’s most storied rivalries and also some ones that MLS just went and made up? Frankly speaking, rivalry week can kiss m-(Editor’s note: I redacted like a whole paragraph here, you’re welcome. Also, Heineken is gross.) - because Atlanta and Orlando are not a real rivalry just because some marketing executive bought a billboar-(Editor’s note: yeah some more here as well) ight- and even if these ARE the most exciting rivalries in the league why not spread those out so you can have a compelling match every couple of weeks? I don’t know folks. I hate rivalry week. It makes the fans extra ultzy, it sort of cheapens the real rivalries, and all these kids will simply not get off of my lawn. Is it mainly because I never spell Heineken right? Mainly. Yes. Whatever.

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Setting the Table Week 20 - Steffen's Value, Quintero's Arrival, and Fagundez's Production by Eric Walcott

Welcome to Setting the Table. 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. Here we focus on chances that ended with the ball in the back of the net.

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World Cup Statistics by Matthias Kullowatz

We have begun rolling out World Cup statistics in the same format as those we provide for MLS. Scroll over "World Cup 2014" along the top bar to check it out! In the Team Stats Tables, one may observe that the recently-eliminated Spain outshot its opponents, and a much higher proportion of its possession occurred in the attacking third than that of its opponents.

Our team-by-team Expected Goals data shows that England played better than its results would suggest, earning more dangerous opportunities than its opponents. It was a matter of inches for Wayne Rooney a few times there...

 

Finishing data suggests that James Rodriguez has made the most of his opportunities---surprise, surprise---but did you know that none of Thomas Muller's first seven shots were assisted?

And despite giving up a tournament-high seven goals in the group stages, our Goalkeeping Data actually suggests that Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares performed admirably---especially considering the onslaught of shots he faced that were worth a tournament-most 0.4 goals per shot on target.