When valuing soccer players, the goalkeeper may be the most doable position, but eventually we'd like to move on to the field players. I think I speak for everyone around here when I say I'm tired of valuing players by just goals and assists. Our new friend, Mike, put together a paper about player value for the MIT Sloan conference a few years ago, and that's probably as good a place to start as any (good read, by the way!). It is our opinion that every play on the field leads to a change in the chances of "soon" scoring or conceding a goal, with more important plays garnering more change, or weight. A defender may decrease the opponent's chance of scoring by as much as 10 or 15 percent with a well-timed tackle in the box. If his fellow defender picks up the loose change and plays a dissecting ball through the middle, thirty yards up the field to a midfielder in space, then he in turn may have increased his team's chances of scoring by four or five percent. Those plays deserved to be rewarded with some sort of statistic!

If we can agree on a set of the types of plays that merit credit for the participating players, then perhaps we can focusing on each play's value in terms of goals. Agreeing on some qualitative plays with sound definitions is probably the first step in this process toward better valuing field players.