Wednesday, July 22, 2009

MLS: The Impact of a Red Card

When a red card occurs during a game, how big of an advantage or disadvantage occurs as a result? The obvious fact that one team is now a man down doesn't tell us exactly how many goals that's worth. I wanted to learn more about the impact of red cards in MLS history, so I've gone through all 594 595 of them from 1996-2008.

That figure includes one two sending offs that aren't listed in the 2009 MLS Fact & Record Book (FARB): Branco is listed as only having received 2 reds in 1997; pretty amusing since getting 3 reds in 11 games is the only thing anyone remembers about his MLS stint. That appears to be the only one they've overlooked. Although, if you get your ejection numbers from the MLSnet stats pages, be aware that they sometimes count coaches being sent off in their totals.

EDIT 8/1: I found another one while looking at the 2009 NY media guide. They list all the team's red cards, and unfortunately are missing a couple. But it looks like the FARB and MLSnet are missing another 1997 Metrostars red card: Tab Ramos on 8/17 at KC.

What I did was look at every single match that involved a red card, and figured out how many goals were scored after that. Some matches involved multiple red cards, so I've decided to post the data as "1 man up" and "2 men up" situations. Being up by two men is a very uncommon situation that's only occurred for a total of 201 minutes in 2,283 games through last season, so let's focus on being one man up.

This data includes goals off of penalty kicks awarded as a result of a red card.

1 Man Up: Per 90 Minutes


Min GF GA GF per 90 GA per 90 GD per 90
1996 802 28 10 3.14 1.12 2.02
1997 604
24 10
3.58 1.49 2.09
1998 1739 72 29 3.73 1.50 2.23
1999 1323 38 23 2.59 1.56 1.02
2000 898 29 17 2.91 1.70 1.20
2001 941 31 14 2.96 1.34 1.63
2002 823 18 7 1.97 0.77 1.20
2003 596 8 6 1.21 0.91 0.30
2004 527 11 7 1.88 1.20 0.68
2005 737 14 10
1.71 1.22 0.49
2006 830 27 10 2.93 1.08 1.84
2007 1197 25 18 1.88 1.35 0.53
2008 980 20 9 1.84 0.83 1.01







Total 11997 345 170 2.59 1.28 1.31

This data is all regular season only. To summarize, MLS teams have been up by one man for a total of 11,997 minutes. Those teams have scored 345 goals and let in 170. That comes out to an average of 2.59 to 1.28 over 90 minutes.

You can see that more goals are scored in these situations than the normal per game averages. The total goals, both GF & GA, come out to 3.86 per 90 minutes. For comparison, the average in MLS history is 2.99 per game (which includes those goals).

One thing that immediately stands out is the GF/GD per 90 minutes for the first few seasons. Pretty crazy. More goals were scored leaguewide in those years, but that doesn't explain everything. I guess the quality of the league improving and more emphasis on defense have much to do with it. The parity after contraction is a factor too.

As a matter of fact, there's a striking difference break down the numbers into pre and post contraction:


Min GF GA GF per 90 GA per 90 GD per 90
1996-01 6307 222 103 3.17 1.47 1.70
2002-08 5690 123 67 1.95 1.06 0.89

Teams still have a big advantage, just not crazy big.

After making the above tables, my next thought was to figure out the home/away splits. I don't think it would shock you to learn that 60.7% of "1 man up" minutes were in favor of home teams. We already know that they get more penalties called and win more games.

However, you might be surprised to learn that teams with the advantage scored goals at nearly the same rate whether they were at home or away. In fact, the away goals were scored at a slightly higher rate:

1 Man Up: Home & Away


Min GF GA GF Per 90 GA per 90
Home 7285 208 85 2.57 1.05
Away 4712 137 85 2.62 1.62

The big difference is that home teams are much more likely to score despite being a man down.

I also considered the possibility that maybe a handful of games had a huge impact on the data. Most notably, the Los Angeles Galaxy beat the Dallas Burn 8:1 in 1998 in Texas. The Burn received a red card while losing 1:0, so that's 7 away goals in one game.

To try to take that sort of thing out of the equation, I looked at how many "situations" a team was a man up and divided the goals by those situations. I use the word situations rather than games because a team can have two separate 1 man up periods in a single game.

Overall, there were 475 man up situations with 58.7% of those at home (279-196). Here's the GF & GA divided by those numbers:


GF GA
Home 0.75 0.30
Away 0.70 0.43



Total 0.72 0.35

Both scoring rates are still nearly the same. Notice the total number, there's another great piece of data: Throughout MLS history, every time your team went up a man, on average you could've expected them to score 0.72 goals and allow 0.35 for the rest of the game (or until another ejection).

In fact, let's take a look at the goals per "situation" for each individual year next:

1 Man Up: Goals per Red Card Situation


Times GF GA GF per Time GA per Time GD per Time
1996 28 28 10 1.00 0.36 0.64
1997 29 24 10
0.83 0.34 0.48
1998 48 72 29 1.50 0.60 0.90
1999 46 38 23 0.83 0.50 0.33
2000 40 29 17 0.73 0.43 0.30
2001 36 31 14 0.86 0.39 0.47
2002 33 18 7 0.55 0.21 0.33
2003 28 8 6 0.29 0.21 0.07
2004 28 11 7 0.39 0.25 0.14
2005 36 14 10
0.39 0.28 0.11
2006 37 27 10 0.73 0.27 0.46
2007 44 25 18 0.57 0.41 0.16
2008 42 20 9 0.48 0.21 0.26







Total 475 345 170 0.73 0.36 0.37

Once again, let's separate this data into pre and post contraction periods just to emphasize the difference:


Times GF GA GF per Time GA per Time
1996-01 227 222 103 0.98 0.45
2002-08 248 123 67 0.50 0.27

It appears that now you can only expect a goal for your team every other time they're a man up. Although many of those times are in the dying minutes of the match, so I guess your expectations would depend on when it happened.

One more stat: 11,997 minutes divided by 475 situations = just over 25 minutes each.


2 Men Up

Much less to talk about here simply because it's such a rare occurrence. So little data means that we can't really take these numbers too seriously. Obviously it's very good to be two men up, but other than that...

Per 90 Minutes:



Min GF GA GF per 90 GA per 90 GD per 90
1996 9 1 0 10.00 0.00 10.00
1997 0 0 0


1998 16 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
1999 0 0 0


2000 1 1 0 90.00 0.00 90.00
2001 51 1 1 1.76 1.76 0.00
2002 3 1 0 30.00 0.00 30.00
2003 0 0 0


2004 18 0 1 0.00 5.00 -5.00
2005 30 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
2006 2 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
2007 10 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
2008 61 3 1 4.43 1.48 2.95







Total 201 7 3 3.13 1.34 1.79


Per two man up situation:


Times GF GA GF per Time GA per Time GD per Time
1996 1 1 0 1.00 0.00 1.00
1997 0 0 0


1998 2 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
1999 0 0 0


2000 1 1 0 1.00 0.00 1.00
2001 4 1 1 0.25 0.25 0.00
2002 3 1 0 0.33 0.00 0.33
2003 0 0 0


2004 1 0 1 0.00 1.00 -1.00
2005 1 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
2006 1 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
2007 2 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00
2008 4 3 1 0.75 0.25 0.50







Total 20 7 3 0.35 0.15 0.20

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Comments on "MLS: The Impact of a Red Card"

 

Anonymous dano said ... (11:13 AM, July 23, 2009) : 

Thanks for your analysis. So how many Burn vs Galaxy outlier type games were there? & I'm not clear, your subsequent tabulations still included these outliers?

 

Blogger scaryice said ... (4:55 PM, July 23, 2009) : 

I didn't exclude any games. The numbers were pretty much the same when I measured the goals by minutes or by the total situations.

I suppose I also need to look at how many times a team improved their situation and by how many goals, breaking it down into +1, +2, +3, etc.

 

Blogger Karl said ... (3:46 PM, October 13, 2009) : 

Can you please direct me to the source you used.

Thank you.

 

Blogger scaryice said ... (8:02 PM, October 14, 2009) : 

I have my own lineup database that I've put together. I went in and put in all the red cards this year which was a lot of work.

 

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