MLS 2009: Red Card Data & Situational Goal Differences
|Did you notice the stat ESPN gave about David Beckham on the MLS Cup broadcast last night? I sure did. They noted that the Galaxy's goal differential was +10 when he was on the field during the 2009 season. The team as a whole was only +5, though I don't recall if the ESPN stat was for regular season only or not (EDIT: It included the playoffs as well, he was +7 for the regular season).|
Plus/minus is a stat that has been used in hockey for a long time, and it's starting to pick up steam in basketball as well. It's come up from time to time on soccer sites as well, but not too much. I'm planning to look into the plus/minus data for each player MLS in 2009, and one thing I needed to deal with are the red cards. That's why this summer I went through MLS history and figured out all the necessary red card data, with the view of possibly looking at all seasons at some point.
Also, I want to use only full strength, 11 on 11 situations for the analysis. I'm also going to adjust for each team's goal difference, so each player will be compared to the average for the team (I'll post the non-adjusted number as well). Players will also have their playing time taken into account, like I did with the MLS Team Ages post.
But this post isn't about plus/minus. I mentioned having to get the red card data for 2009, and I've done that. So while I've yet to figure out the plus/minus, I have some interesting stuff to post: I wanted to show how teams have done this year with their goal differences, and not just the normal ones seen on MLSnet. How does their GD look when you take out all non-full strength situations?
First, let's look at the historical red card numbers for the entire league (which I believe I didn't actually post in my previous look on the subject). All data in this post is regular season only:
MLS Red Cards Per Game, 1996-2009
Yes, 2009 had the highest sending off rate in league history.
MLS is missing two red cards in their historical data the last time I checked, both in 1997. I've added both.
Also, MLS has sometimes counted in their MLSnet statistics red cards given to coaches. I don't count those, only ones given to players. Reds given to players on the bench or after the final whistle are counted, however. Four such cards are included in the 2009 data below (though they don't impact the minutes at all).
Now let's look at this past year. How many did each team get, and what about the minutes played in each situation?
2009 MLS Red Cards & Situational Minutes Played
"For" means a red card given to that team. So Chicago received 4 red cards (Robinson, Soumare, Thorrington 2), while benefiting from 6 called against the opposition.
Man, the Wizards played about 20% of their season up or down a man (or two). That stands out. I know they had that streak with a bunch of consecutive games with ejections for either team in the middle of the year (including the Superliga).
As mentioned above, four red cards were given to players not in the match at the time:
6/6 - Luciano Emilio, DC vs NY (bench)
6/13 - Mike Petke, NY @ TOR (after final whistle)
8/6 - Brad Davis, HOU @ DAL (bench)
9/12 - Carlos Johnson, NY vs KC (after final whistle)
Here's the most interesting thing:
MLS 2009: Goals For/Against in Various Situations
So here's how the GD's compare, overall and 11 v 11:
The two teams that jump out are Chicago and Colorado. Both go from positive to negative when you only consider full strength situations. On one hand, it means they took advantage of their man up situations. But it also means that they didn't impress at full strength. It's pretty surprising to me to see the Fire with a negative GD in full strength situations.
Meanwhile, LA-NE-NY all look better.
I know red cards are a part of soccer, but it's interesting to isolate the data like this. Thoughts?