Monday, July 07, 2008

MLS Halfway Point Offense & Defense Stats

MLS has now conducted 106 of its 210 regular season games, making this the perfect time to take a look at how the teams rank on offense and defense, as well as how they have changed since last season in both of those categories.

I'll also be posting a few quotes from my season preview article which I wrote back in March.

Note: Goals per game was 2.66 last year and 2.70 this year, so there's no real difference there.


PPG Offense Defense
2007 1.33 1.03 1.20
2008 1.50 1.57 0.93

Difference 0.17 0.54 -0.27

Preview Quote: "I expect to see more goals scored and allowed, which should lead to more exciting games but maybe not a better record. Forward play will be critical..."

We definitely have seen more goals, thanks to a full season of Cuauhtemoc Blanco. That's happened without quality forward play, which could change with Brian McBride's signing. But what hasn't happened is an increase in goals allowed. In fact, the Fire currently have the best defense in the league, which would rank 4th all time in league history if the season ended today. So it turns out that Juan Carlos Osorio's departure has not caused things to fall apart tactically (since he's supposedly the tactical master). It also can be attributed to the improvement of second year defender Bakary Soumare, who's been praised by many.

Now the standings may put them tied for 4th in their own division, but they are tied for 3rd overall in PPG. The recent struggles make the offensive numbers seem a bit high, which is due to two 4-goal blowouts. The team will now have to fully incorporate Wilman Conde and Liam Marmol into the team, and they really should play better at home.


PPG Offense Defense
2007 1.77 1.53 0.93
2008 1.40 1.40 1.33

Difference -0.37 -0.13 0.40

Preview Quote: "...I feel that they are the number one team in MLS at the moment."

Injuries have taken their toll. It seemed like they had addressed their depth problems from last season, but that's been negated by a ridiculous amount of missing players at any given time. As a result, they've been a pretty average team in all categories. Plus, Brad Guzan has played poorly at times, perhaps distracted a possible transfer. The good news is, the MLS championship is decided over four weeks in the fall. And despite the problems, they would still make the playoffs if they started today. They should definitely improve in the second half.

However, they've played 3 more home games than road games (due to the upcoming X-Games, same thing with the Galaxy). And this team has already disappointed twice in a row in the playoffs. They likely won't be favorites once if they get there regardless of the regular season record. They need to be healthy at the right time this year, and also figure out which of the young players they've been forced to use can contribute come playoff time.


PPG Offense Defense
2007 1.17 0.97 1.13
2008 1.27 1.60 1.33

Difference 0.10 0.63 0.20

Preview Quote: "This team does seem to have a lot of depth, but they don't jump out at you and I can't see them succeeding with Fernando Clavijo finishing out his contract."

To no one's surprise, the Rapids are a below average team halfway through the season after inexplicably keeping coach Clavijo for the final year of his contract. At least they've made a few good player moves, getting Christian Gomez and Tom McManus and ridding themselves of Jovan Kirovski. As a result, the offense has improved greatly, and is tied for 3rd overall after being second to last a year ago. They've only failed to score twice in 15 games. It was especially exciting to see them field a unusually attack-minded lineup a few days ago, with C.Gomez, Ballouchy, Cooke, Clark, Casey, and McManus all starting.

The defense has slipped a bit, with Mike Petke yet to play a match due to injury. Pablo Mastroeni played at CB in a 3-5-2 in the aforementioned last match, so maybe that's the right formation. Of course, it was the July 4th game. Playoffs are unlikely, but anything can happen in the West.


PPG Offense Defense
2007 1.23 1.30 1.47
2008 1.80 1.60 1.33

Difference 0.57 0.30 -0.13

Preview Quote: "The team will have to hope that Guillermo Barros Schelotto can stay motivated and have a great season, and also that their young guys (Gaven/Rogers) can step their game up."

The Crew are on pace for their best season ever, beating 2001's 1.73 PPG. The biggest reasons are a healthy Chad Marshall and the rise of Robbie Rogers. But can it last? They were lucky enough to play Chivas, DC, and Houston in the first month of the season when all three were struggling mightily. Recently, they've shown some guts by twice come back from two goal deficits to get draws.

I can't see them keeping up this torrid pace, but a playoff spot should be easy enough to obtain. At that point I don't think they'll be favored over NE or DC, however. If they want to win a title, they may need another impact player. I know all the talk has been about adding an attacker, but maybe they should look on the other side of the ball. The defense has been worse this season and Sigi's teams usually are more known for their quality defending.

Second Half Keys:


PPG Offense Defense
2007 1.47 1.23 1.47
2008 1.13 1.19 1.38

Difference -0.34 -0.05 -0.09

Preview Quote: "...the defense may get better. But do they have the attacking players necessary to win games? I just don't see it."

The big FCD story this year was the firing of Steve Morrow. It seemed like a strange move because the team started out well and also because Morrow is in the final year of his contract (and they didn't fire him after last season). Virtually no one following the league expects his successor, long-time SMU coach Schellas Hyndman, to be a success. It interesting to see a team that relies a lot on foreign players hiring a college coach. Dallas has been pretty decent to good for the past three years, making the playoffs easily each year but failing at the first hurdle. This year they face a struggle to even get there.

The defense is slightly better but below average. It's the offense that is scary, and not in a good way. Other than Kenny Cooper, who can score goals? With the second worst record in the league and only 14 games to go, they'll have to solve that pretty fast. They also need Juan Carlos Toja to play the way he did early last year.


PPG Offense Defense
2007 1.83 1.87 1.13
2008 1.47 1.87 1.73

Difference -0.37 0.00 0.60

Preview Quote: "First place is not the most important thing, though. The playoffs are virtually assured, which is when they really need to start winning."

Luciano Emilio is in form and DC is rolling. They have the second best offense in the league; the 1.87 goals per game is equal to last year. The bad news is that the defense is much worse. Obviously there is a big downgrade in goal, but the center backs have not been up to snuff either. DC has not shutout an opponent and we're halfway through the season. No team has gone an entire season without one.


Houston PPG Offense Defense
2007 1.73 1.43 0.77
2008 1.25 1.06 1.19

Difference -0.48 -0.37 0.42

Preview Quote: "Somebody's got to emerge next to Brian Ching if they want another title."

Nate Jaqua may be coming back, which could help the dreadful offense. Last year they won the MLS Cup without Brian Ching, which doesn't seem possible at the moment. Defense is no longer record breaking, but still strong (even with Eddie Robinson missing several matches).


PPG Offense Defense
2007 1.33 1.50 1.50
2008 1.21 0.86 1.21

Difference -0.12 -0.64 -0.29

Preview Quote: "People seem to be predicting big things. I see one big signing up top (Claudio Lopez) replacing a guy who was one of the league's top scorers, and a big downgrade at center back (Tyson Wahl vs Nick Garcia)."

As usual, started strong and are now struggling. Josh Wolff should be a big help, but they don't appear to be one of the top teams in the conference. Even if they get up to 1.30 or 1.40 goals per game, that's still only average.


PPG Offense Defense
2007 1.13 1.27 1.60
2008 1.40 2.20 2.00

Difference 0.27 0.93 0.40

Preview Quote: "They really don't look nearly as bad as people are pointing out; they just need to stay healthy."

Definitely one of the most exciting teams in MLS history, and not just because of the star power, the famous coach, and the many player rumors. The total of 4.20 goals per match (for and against) would be the higher ever; they simultaneously lead the league in goals scored and allowed. If the season ended today, they would rank in the top ten all time for best offense and worst defense.


PPG Offense Defense
2007 1.67 1.70 1.43
2008 1.94 1.47 1.12

Difference 0.27 -0.23 -0.32

Preview Quote: "Steve Nicol has proven time and time again that he knows how to succeed in the regular season..."

No Taylor Twellman, no problem. They may be scoring fewer goals, but they're playing great and are top of the table. Plus, they finally have a decent Latin American player in Mauricio Castro; I'm sure Paul Gardner is happy. The defense slipped a bit last year, but now is back to being great. Chris Albright was a steal. The regular season by now is pretty meaningless to the Revs and their fans; they need some hardware. Depth looks better this year which should help.


PPG Offense Defense
2007 1.43 1.57 1.50
2008 1.33 1.00 1.47

Difference -0.10 -0.57 -0.03

Preview Quote: "I like Juan Carlos Osorio who's intensity and tactics should improve the defense, and the offense is already good."

LOL tactics. Juan Pablo Angel has been hurt and ineffective, Jozy Altidore is gone, and don't even bring up Claudio Reyna. The new signings better come through, or this will be a wasted season. You can't help but feel that they pulled the plug on Arena too quickly. Of course, firing Osorio now would be doing the same thing. Next year with a better DP in place of Reyna, we'll see what happens. Maybe they can address the defense for once.


PPG Offense Defense
2007 0.90 1.03 1.50
2008 1.25 1.13 1.19

Difference 0.35 0.09 -0.31

Preview Quote: "They definitely should not be last again."

Defense = way better. Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave have been good. Now if only they could mount an offense (though it is improved slightly). Like Chicago, they entered the season with a collection of halfway decent forwards, assuming a good starter or two would emerge. It hasn't worked out, and they don't have the support that the Chicago forwards get.

It still doesn't seem like they will actually have a playoff team for once, but the potential is there.


PPG Offense Defense
2008 0.80 0.67 1.40

Preview Quote: "I think their defense may is around the league's average, but the offense is easily worst."

Not as bad as they look, they just can't score goals as everyone predicted. Currently sporting the worst offense in league history, even worse than TFC last year. In fairness, they have played only 5/15 games at home and should improve. It shouldn't matter, they still will be below average. Everything about their season has been pretty predictable, actually. Ever since the goal against LA was waived off, it's been downhill. The important thing is to build for next year. Unfortunately, TFC holds their first round pick for next season.


PPG Offense Defense
2007 0.83 0.83 1.63
2008 1.50 1.29 1.29

Difference 0.67 0.45 -0.35

Preview Quote: "...the lineup isn't even apparent one week before the season."

Thank god for foreign signings. I guess Mo Johnston came through after all, because when the season started they did not look like contenders. The huge increases on both sides of the ball are hardly shocking; they had nowhere to go but up. Now if only they could win on the road.

It's refreshing to see a team act so unabashedly like a European club, both on and off the field.John Carver knows their biggest needs are up front, where they're still below average. Who are they rumored to sign? Two British players in their thirties (Dickov, Huckerby). I love it.

PPG - 1st half of 2008

1 New England 1.94
2 Columbus 1.80
3 Chicago 1.50
3 Toronto 1.50
5 DC United 1.47
6 Chivas USA 1.40
6 Los Angeles 1.40
8 New York 1.33
9 Colorado 1.27
10 Houston 1.25
10 Real Salt Lake 1.25
12 Kansas City 1.21
13 Dallas 1.13
14 San Jose 0.80

PPG - Change from 2007

1 Toronto +0.67
2 Columbus +0.57
3 Real Salt Lake +0.35
4 New England +0.27
5 Los Angeles +0.27
6 Chicago +0.17
7 Colorado +0.10
8 New York -0.10
9 Kansas City -0.12
10 Dallas -0.34
11 Chivas USA -0.37
12 DC United -0.37
13 Houston -0.48

Offense - 1st half of 2008

1 Los Angeles 2.20
2 DC United 1.87
3 Colorado 1.60
3 Columbus 1.60
5 Chicago 1.57
6 New England 1.47
7 Chivas USA 1.40
8 Toronto 1.29
9 Dallas 1.19
10 Real Salt Lake 1.13
11 Houston 1.06
12 New York 1.00
13 Kansas City 0.86
14 San Jose 0.67

Offense - Change from 2007

1 Los Angeles +0.93
2 Colorado +0.63
3 Chicago +0.54
4 Toronto +0.45
5 Columbus +0.30
6 Real Salt Lake +0.09
7 DC United 0.00
8 Dallas -0.05
9 Chivas USA -0.13
10 New England -0.23
11 Houston -0.37
12 New York -0.57
13 Kansas City -0.64

Defense - 1st half of 2008

1 Chicago 0.93
2 New England 1.12
3 Houston 1.19
3 Real Salt Lake 1.19
5 Kansas City 1.21
6 Toronto 1.29
7 Chivas USA 1.33
7 Colorado 1.33
7 Columbus 1.33
10 Dallas 1.38
11 San Jose 1.40
12 New York 1.47
13 DC United 1.73
14 Los Angeles 2.00

Defense - Change from 2007

1 Toronto -0.35
2 New England -0.32
3 Real Salt Lake -0.31
4 Kansas City -0.29
5 Chicago -0.27
6 Columbus -0.13
7 Dallas -0.09
8 New York -0.03
9 Colorado +0.20
10 Chivas USA +0.40
10 Los Angeles +0.40
12 Houston +0.42
13 DC United +0.60

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