Saturday, November 12, 2005

MLS Cup 10: Revolution vs Galaxy

Only the second MLS Cup rematch (DC-LA the other), this game is also notable for featuring two teams at the opposite ends of the table. Very rarely in the ten year history of MLS have we seen a championship match where one team was obviously better than the other. The last time was in 2002, where the Revs got there despite a losing record. Now, the tables are turned. New England has been consistantly good all season, and they should win this game. But also like 2002, the other team has something in their favor. Landon Donovan is carrying the team on his shoulders, and his brilliance has made the difference for the Galaxy. As I noted earlier, him playing is the difference between Los Angeles being average and good. It will be close, but the Revs should still manage to win. They can overcome Donovan, just like the 2002 Galaxy overcame the Revs' home field advantage. I don't expect a goalfest like the past two years, because these two coaches aren't the types to allow that to happen. Nicol should play a more offensive game than in 2002 though, because now he has the talent that he didn't before. My pick is 2-1 Revs.

And now, because it just wouldn't be a Climbing the Ladder post without some statistical analysis, here is some info on the previous MLS Cup matchups:


1. During 2000-2002, all playoff teams were seeded 1-8 instead of by conference.

2. Ties were not broken for the "table" ranking.

3. APPG (adjusted points per game) simply means that I counted shootouts as draws.

4. Under APPG, OFF (goals per game), and DEF (goals allowed per game), those are alltime rankings among all 110 MLS regular season preformances.

5. POR and PGD stand for playoff record and playoff goal differential respectively, going into the title game. Playoff records do count shootout wins in this case.

DC 1996 LA
Seed 2 vs 1
Table 3 vs 2
APPG 37 vs 24
OFF 11t vs 19t
DEF 78t vs 51t
GD 6 vs 10
POR 4-1 vs 4-1
PGD 6 vs 4

DC 1997 COL
Seed 1 vs 4
Table 1 vs 7t
APPG 9 vs 73
OFF 4 vs 50t
DEF 70t vs 88t
GD 17 vs -9
POR 4-0 vs 4-0
PGD 5 vs 6

CHI 1998 DC
Seed 2 vs 1
Table 3 vs 2
APPG 15 vs 5
OFF 11t vs 2
DEF 37t vs 47t
GD 17 vs 26
POR 4-0 vs 4-1
PGD 2 vs 4

DC 1999 LA
Seed 1 vs 1
Table 1 vs 2
APPG 7 vs 11
OFF 8 vs 55t
DEF 26 vs 1t
GD 22 vs 20
POR 4-1 vs 4-1
PGD 7 vs 8

KC 2000 CHI
Seed 1 vs 2
Table 1t vs 1t
APPG 14 vs 16
OFF 62t vs 5t
DEF 1t vs 65t
GD 18 vs 16
POR 3-1-2 vs 4-2-0
PGD 3 vs 8

SJ 2001 LA
Seed 5 vs 3
Table 4t vs 3
APPG 18 vs 12
OFF 23 vs 9t
DEF 9 vs 33t
GD 18 vs 16
POR 4-1-0 vs 3-1-2
PGD 9 vs 1

LA 2002 NE
Seed 1 vs 2
Table 1 vs 5t
APPG 10 vs 59
OFF 46t vs 26
DEF 18 vs 78t
GD 11 vs 0
POR 4-1-0 vs 3-1-2
PGD 6 vs 4

SJ 2003 CHI
Seed 1 vs 1
Table 2 vs 1
APPG 20 vs 17
OFF 57t vs 25
DEF 15t vs 41t
GD 10 vs 10
POR 2-1 vs 3-0
PGD 2 vs 5

DC 2004 KC
Seed 2 vs 1
Table 4 vs 1t
APPG 53 vs 26
OFF 70 vs 91t
DEF 36 vs 4
GD 1 vs 8
POR 2-0-1 vs 2-1
PGD 4 vs 3

NE 2005 LA
Seed 1 vs 4
Table 1 vs 7t
APPG 8 vs 50
OFF 27t vs 76t
DEF 11t vs 37t
GD 18 vs -1
POR 2-1 vs 2-0-1
PGD 2 vs 4

So comparing the two title contenders in each category to see who's best, which best predict the winner?

Seed 3-4
Table 3-5
APPG 4-5
OFF 4-5
DEF 6-3
GD 5-3
POR 4-2
PGD 4-5

I didn't break ties here, but overall, the favorites (based on seed, then using tiebreakers) have only won 4 of 9 times. So it's no surprise that the categories here didn't show much of an advantage anywhere. Playoff record could be a factor (favors Galaxy), but it looks like the best predictor was the better team defensively (favors Revs).

Of the five "upset" winners, (1996 DC, 1998 CHI, 2001 SJ, 2003 SJ, and 2004 DC) 3 were better defensively and 2 offensively. Only once has one team been better in both categories, and that was the 1997 game. That is, until this year. This year's Galaxy team may have Landon Donovan, but they are very similar to that 1997 Colorado team. They both were 4th in their conference and got hot in the playoffs, and both are the only two MLS Cup finalists with a negative goal differential for the regular season.

1997 DC was probably the biggest favorite ever of the 9 games, not even taking into account the home field advantage they had. The Galaxy are better than those Rapids, and underachieved for much of the year. But the Revs must win this game, or else they'll be on the losing end of the greatest MLS Cup upset so far.

Comments on "MLS Cup 10: Revolution vs Galaxy"


Anonymous Doug said ... (7:10 PM, November 13, 2005) : 

If you watched the Galaxy games in the playoffs, you would see that Los Angeles played a wide offensive system that drew defenses out of position and a compact defense that nullified attacks. For everything that San Jose or Colorado came with, there was a response. For some reason, this was the time when the Galaxy came into form, a form not seen in the regular season. My point is that stats don't show this. And because of that, you could tell 10 minutes into the MLS Cup Final, the Revs were confused and would not score; it was only a matter of when LA was going to get the game winner.

This was only the greatest upset if you look at the numbers but with the current playoff system that we have, numbers don't mean (*insert favorite four-letter word*) when it matters. Viva la Galaxy!


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