Saturday, March 18, 2006

MLS: Starting Lineup Stability (2005) - Home/Away


On the Bigsoccer thread I started about this topic, Numerista asked "Is a team less likely to change up its line-up for a road game?"

The total number of returning starters per game leaguewide was 9.07. That breaks down to:


So yes, teams were more likely to make changes on the road.

But I wated to go a little further than that, and see if the PPG data I came up with could be explained by the home/away breakdown. Here's the table from my last post, with the PPG measured by the number of returning starters:

4-7 1.21
8 1.30
9 1.39
10 1.55
11 1.35

Now, here's the home/away splits for each category:

4-7 17/21
8 31/46
9 62/45
10 48/47
11 28/27

I'm excited about these numbers, because as you can see, the PPG with 10 returning starters (RS) is higher than with 9, but the home/away breakdown favors 9. So that could mean that there really is something to this.

Although, I was checking the data, and it seems that RSL had way more games with 9 RS than 10, while SJ was just the opposite. RSL had 12 games with 9 RS, and 4 with 10 RS, while SJ had 3 and 15 respectively. Maybe that would explain why the PPG with 10 RS was much higher than with 9 RS, rather than home/away splits, or stability actually meaning anything. Here's what you get if you remove those two teams' numbers:

9 1.41 (1.39)
10 1.49 (1.55)

Makes things a little closer, but there's still a pattern.

Anyway, back to the home/away data. In 2005, MLS home teams went 92-56-44, for a total of 1.67 PPG. Away teams had a 1.10 PPG (a difference of 0.56). So with a litle math, I was able to guess the expected PPG for the RS breakdowns based just on the home/away split. I did that by multiplying 1.67 times the number home games and 1.10 times the number of away games for each category, then adding the two numbers and dividing by the total number of games for each category. And here are the results:

4-7 1.36
8 1.33
9 1.43
10 1.39
11 1.39

That what's we would expect the numbers to be for each category based only on the number of home/away games. 1.39 is the average PPG for any MLS game in 2005. Compare this to the numbers from above, the ones I got by looking at the number of returning starters:

4-7 1.21
8 1.30
9 1.39
10 1.55
11 1.35

This data gives me some hope that there really is something to this. I need a lot more data to know for sure though.

Blog Update

In other news, I have a lot of cool stuff planned for the next two weeks:

1) The 2006 MLS season starts on April 1, and to celebrate, I'll be posting about the league's top 25 alltime leading goalscorers. Not just who they are currently, that would be too easy. I'm going to post lists of who the top 25 were after each MLS season. So you'll be able to see how the list has progressed over the last ten years.

2) Everyone knows that Roy Lassiter has the single season record for most MLS goals (27 in 1996). But what you might not know is who holds the records for most goals in 2, 3, 4, and 5 consecutive seasons. We'll take a look at the top 10 in each category.

3) Of course, I wouldn't be much of an amateur pundit if I didn't give you a preview of the season, complete with predictions and analysis.

4) As soon as I compile the "Starting Lineup Stability" data for another season, I'll be sure to post it here.

Comments on "MLS: Starting Lineup Stability (2005) - Home/Away"


Anonymous Bill said ... (11:20 AM, May 10, 2006) : 

This stat plays well for 2005 SJ and 2006 Houston because of Dominic Kinnear's coaching philosophy. Basically the only reason he'll change a lineup from one game to the next is the unavailability of a player due to injury or callups. It seems to work well for him, but you wouldn't think it would.


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