Wednesday, August 31, 2005

MLS: Penalty shootout records by team

EDIT: Oops. I did forget one, and it means that the Galaxy did lose a penalty shootout. It was the 1999 Champions Cup "play-in" game, against Necaxa, after a 1-1 draw.

There has only been one MLS game that ended in penalties, last year's DC-NE classic in the playoffs. But there have been plenty of Open Cup games and a few Champions Cup games that have ended that way. The Galaxy are the team with the best record. All three games were in 2001, where they advanced in the Champions Cup twice on penalties before winning the final, and also advanced over San Jose in the Open Cup quarterfinals, en route to winning that tournament as well.

New England lost both shootouts last year, and Colorado is the only original team not to be involved in one. If I have any of these figures wrong, please let me know.

LA 3-1
DAL 2-0
CHI 2-1
SJ 2-2
DC 2-3
MIA 1-0
MET 1-0
TB 1-0
CHV 0-0
COL 0-0
RSL 0-0
CLB 0-1
KC 0-1
NE 0-2

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

First DC-RSL meeting tomorrow

DC will be the last team to take on RSL for the first time tomorrow night (and Columbus and Chivas will finally meet on Saturday). Other than that, all the teams have faced the expansion teams. Now DC is a much better team than RSL, and they should win. But I would say that no matter what RSL's record/talent/whatever is, because DC is the only original team with a perfect record against expansion teams in their first meeting:

DC United 3 0 0 9 7 1 6
Dallas 3 1 0 9 8 2 6
Metrostars 2 0 2 8 8 5 3
San Jose 2 0 2 8 8 5 3
Kansas City 2 0 2 8 6 4 2
Los Angeles 2 1 1 7 9 7 2
Columbus 2 1 0 6 7 3 4
New England 2 2 0 6 7 6 1
Colorado 1 2 1 4 8 9 -1

Chicago 3 0 0 9 10 2 8
Chivas USA 1 0 0 3 1 0 1
Tampa Bay 0 1 1 1 0 2 -2
Miami 0 1 0 0 0 2 -2
Real Salt Lake 0 1 0 0 0 1 -1

Shootouts counted as draws. Chicago has also been very impressive. And if you need another reason to show why Colorado sucks, here you go. Only original team with a losing record.

What I'm working on currently

As anyone who reads this blog can tell, I love playing around with statistics. For a while now, I've been working on a big project. I am making a database of all MLS teams' results and lineups, for easy access in an excel file. Mlsnet already has pages like this, but they don't have the lineups and goalscorers. In addition, I am including every official MLS team result. This includes the playoffs, Open Cup, and any continental competition (but not friendlies or friendly tournaments like La Manga).

90% of the lineups are easy to find. If you go to history on mlsnet, they recently (finally) added the day-by-day results from past years that used to be on their site. There are a ton of broken links, though (including the entire 2001 season!). The Open Cup games I can find on, and the rest on Soccer America.

I'm currently working on Tampa Bay, which is the last of the 12 teams (I won't add this year's results until after the season). Once I get done, then I have to go through and check the lineups for each team's MLS season, to make sure they match mlsnet's stats for appearances/starts. That's gonna suck, but I need to have it 100% accurate.

But the exciting part is this: While I was doing this, I got the idea to see if teams who played with the same starting XI in consecutive matches won more, as you would think. I did that for several teams, but then I realized that it would be better to go through and instead count the number of starters returning, rather than just worry about all XI. So that's going to be a lot of work, but it should be pretty cool to see the results. I'll be sure to post all the details and analysis here, don't worry. I'll probably wait until the season is over, so I can add this year's data.

And also, I'll make the excel files available when I'm finished. Here's a sample page:

Free Image Hosting at

Sunday, August 28, 2005

YA land is a happy place

It seems that almost every YA is off to a good start this year. Just this weekend we saw Beasley, McBride, and Reyna score goals, and Bocanegra get his first start in a shutout win. Convey seems to have righted the ship in Reading, and even JOB is on the verge of playing. We don't really have any major "stars" in Europe, but we have a lot of solid players getting time. Compared to three years ago, it's amazing. We had a number of players in Europe, but filling out a squad of 18 or 23 would've been tough. Now, a YA team would be strong from top to bottom, and stronger than the MLS squad. And, the guys over there are actually starting now! Up top MLS has an advantage, but that's about it. We do need more goalscoring forwards playing in Europe. But it's hard to complain when we've made so much progress in so little time. It does hurt MLS to have all these guys go over to Europe, but it makes US soccer better, and gives more Americans a chance to develop. And good preformances make all US players more valuable. Plus, it's just a lot of fun to watch.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Chivas USA's success never in doubt

When the concept of Chivas USA was born, immediately MLS fans were polarized. Those who opposed it saw this as compromising the American identity of the league and pandering to Mexicans, as well as being a lesser version of another team. It seemed like a big overreaction to me, and Ives Galarcep wrote a nice article a year ago saying why he thought so as well. I've always thought it was a good idea. The first sign of that was Jorge Vergara. He actively sought this deal, and came to MLS about buying a team, which makes him unique enough. But in addition to the $10 million expansion fee, he put down an extra $15 million to play in LA rather than San Diego or Chicago. Sure, he has a shady past with selling nutritional suppliments, but he's an exciting figure who believes in what he does. And he's not going to bail on the league.

Of course, the team has struggled on the field. But in the meantime, they have record sponsorship for an MLS team, as businesses know they can reach a Hispanic audience. And they play in a beautiful stadium, and probably have a pretty good lease. Now that they have their reinforcements, they're unlikely to ever be that bad again. And not only on the field, but in the stands too. Giants stadium looked and sounded like a Chivas home game, as their fans came out to support them. It was their only trip to New Jersey, but I'm sure Palencia and JP Garcia brought a few more fans out to the game.

The fans. That was the biggest reason for my optimism about Chivas, and the most important part of the discussion. Mexican-Americans (64% of hispanics) have not been going to MLS games. The first season saw a bunch of hispanic fans come out, they didn't like what they had seen and the league has never equaled those attendance figures. It's frustrating, because there are tons of soccer fans in this country who don't care about MLS. As I've said a million times, if all soccer fans in this country were MLS fans, the league would be huge. I also believe that the league will grow slowly, gaining fans as it gets profitable and improves the quality of play, increases marketing, builds stadiums, etc. I think Mexicans will eventually come around and become fans of the league, especially as their kids grow up with MLS around and aren't as attached to the home country's teams ( and even more with a high-quality MLS).

But that's not going to happen overnight. The genius of Chivas is that you can attract those fans way earlier. They have a built in fan base. You have all these hardcore soccer fans, and it's great to see them watching an MLS game. Chivas fans are some of the best in the league already. It's sad to say this, but there are probably as many hardcore Chivas fans in this country as all MLS teams combined. Especially if you throw out DC and LA.

Chivas USA is a spinoff of the original club, but I don't see any problem with that. If MLS gets bigger and better, then there is no reason they can't become equals. As long as the fans enjoy it and people are making money, then it's fine. It does give them an advantage with Mexican players, but that's offset by limiting their ability to sign other foreigners. And it is an American league, but Mexican culture is becoming a part of this country, and I see no problem in the league reflecting that. Mexicans make up a large percentage of soccer fans in the country anyway.

So you take one of the most popular teams in Mexico, put it in MLS, and just the name alone will get those fans to come out here. Because obviously the team's play isn't attracting them. But like I mentioned earlier, they seem poised to become successful on the field and therefore in the stands as well. If the team is good, and they have quality name players, they will be huge. Next season they will be in prime position to make a run at the title, and it should be fun to watch.

Looking forward to Club America's expansion team...

Friday, August 26, 2005

MLS records to look out for

Jason Kreis hit 100, Andy Williams scored the 5,000th goal, and here are a few more milestones to look out for in the remainder of the season:

1) No team has finished a season undefeated at home. Six teams have finished with only 1 loss (APPG = Adjusted PPG, counting shootouts as draws):

14 2002 San Jose 12 1 1 37 2.64 33 12 21
14 2002 Los Angeles 11 1 2 35 2.50 27 10 17
15 2003 Chicago 10 1 4 34 2.27 31 12 19
16 1998 DC United 9 1 6 33 2.06 40 26 14
13 2001 Columbus 7 1 5 26 2.00 29 15 14
15 2004 Colorado 7 1 7 28 1.87 16 8 8

This year, San Jose is has gone 11 games without a loss (6-0-5). They did lose at home in the Open Cup, and now have to face LA again tomorrow. If they can survive that, they play Chivas, Chicago, Dallas, and RSL in their remaining home schedule.

2) No team can match 2002 San Jose's home APPG record. But Chivas, RSL, and Columbus can become the worst road team ever. Who holds that record? It's not the 2003 Galaxy (0-9-6), who are the only team not to win on the road. It's the 1999 Kansas City Wizards (1-12-3), who also had 6 points but played one more game, for an average of 0.38 APPG. Ouch. Right now, the current averages:

Columbus 0.33
Chivas USA 0.17
Real Salt Lake 0.09

All three are winless on the road. CLB neeeds 4 pts in 7 games to escape being the worst ever, CHV 5 pts in 4 games, and RSL 6 pts in 5 games.

3) The record for most seasons in a row with a decrease in average attendance is 3, shared by the 1997-99 Metrostars and the 1998-2000 Revolution. This year, the Colorado and New England (again) can join that undesirable club. The numbers:

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 (so far)
Colorado 16,481 20,687 16,772 14,195 12,618
New England 15,654 16,927 14,641 12,226 11,945

4) Jeff Cunningham is poised to break the Rapids' single-season goalscoring record, which stands at a paltry 14, lowest in the league. John Spencer reached that number twice, in 2001 and 2003. Cunningham currently leads the league with 11 goals and should have no problem breaking it.

5) I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but no team has missed out on the playoffs with a positive goal differential. The Metros could be the first (+3 currently).

6) Finally, another Colorado record could be broken. They are the only team never to finish with a positive goal differential (+1 currently). That's a really bad record. Out of 9 seasons, they have three winning seasons and one at .500, but it's never happened.

Two of their winning seasons (2002 and 2004) were only 2 and 1 game over .500. But the 1999 season deserves to be given special attention. They finished 20-12, and adjusted that figure is 14-9-9, five games over. After 20 games, that adjusted record stood at 12-2-6, and the GD at +14. They then just shut down and tanked the season. This was the same team that has the long scoreless streak I mentioned earlier, 562 minutes through the next season opener (742 including playoffs). They were +1 going into the final game of the season, and of course lost 2-0 to Miami to seal the deal. Hopefully better times are ahead for Rapids fans.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Real Madrid game

I really, really didn't want to comment on this, but since everyone else has, I might as well too. First of all, let's remember that MLS was invited to this game last year and didn't go. I don't remember a positive reaction from that decision even remotely comparable to the negative reaction from the decision to go to this game. Of course, the truely negative stuff didn't come out until after the game was over. Rest assured, if MLS had won the game, no one would be saying it was a waste of time.

And it was not a meaningless game, no matter what the final score was. If you have the chance to prove yourself against the very best, then you should do it. It was a good experience for every one of those players, win or lose. Playing in that game is far more important in the career of a young guy like Jose Burciaga than playing the Minnesota Thunder. Yes, a few US Open Cup games were disrupted. But it's hard to care deeply about that tournament when it's never on tv, few people attend, and teams rest their stars half the time anyway. The prestige of the Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu, that "meaningless game," is probably greater than the Open Cup. Of course we shouldn't interrupt our season, even if that game is more prestigious, but it's already interrupted many times for World Cup qualifying. If you're willing to take away stars for many weekends of league games, then doing it for the Open Cup is a no-brainer.

So why did Real Madrid invite MLS? They did owe the league a game after canceling the allstar game last year. But, let's not forget that the rumors of an expansion team have been there for a while now. They're now trying to build a "theme park" in Miami, and stopped here on their preseason tour. It makes too much sense to ignore. Beckham seems set on coming here in five years or so, so why not as part of a Real Madrid team? Instant attraction right there, and their young talent would far outshine that of Chivas. They see value in the American market, which is getting bigger for soccer. It was a great honor for the league to get invited to the game, which was pretty much inconceivable a few years ago. But even if this doesn't lead to an expansion team, it will still have been worth it. It was worth it for the media attention, the relationship with a top club, player development, and increased worldwide recognition of our league and our players. Yes, the world did see us get destroyed. But that means about as much as our win over Fulham: nothing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A streak unlikely to be broken

On 8/16/97, DC United lost 2-0 away to Columbus.

On 6/16/99, DC United lost 3-0 away to Dallas.

They did not score in either of those games. In between, they would score in every regular season game, a total of 52 straight, including the entire 1998 campaign. To give you an idea of how hard this would be to beat, the top streak right now is 7, joinly held by CLB, DC, and COL. The fact is, DC United was just so dominant back then compared to the rest of the league, and it would take some sort of "Superclub" to equal that run...I wonder who that could be? ;)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Dwayne DeRosario: Quietly having a Best XI season

We've always known he's capable of magic moments (1-2-3-4), but Dwayne DeRosario is finally having a magic season. Playing full time in the midfield, he has been one of the main reasons for the Earthquakes' resurgence. The emphasis there is on "full time." After turning down a contract with Blackburn, DeRosario has played more minutes in 2005 already than any of his first four MLS seasons.

The Earthquakes lost Landon Donovan, and yet they've actually improved offensively. DeRosario is a big part of that. Playing at attacking midfielder, he's tied for the league lead in assists with O'Brien and Wolff (9, to go along with 4 goals). His success has come as part of possibly the best midfield unit in the league, with Chung and Davis/Mullan helping out the attack and Clark holding it down as the DM. When they're on, the Earthquakes play some of the prettiest soccer in the league, along with DC.

I've always thought of DeRosario as probably the best non-starter in the league. It's great to see him get a chance and run with it. Houston really has something to look forward to next year! I joke, I joke...But what's not a joke is that he has not only he been creating goals, he's doing it when it counts most. Elnino's great work on Bigsoccer shows that when weighted for importance, his contributions would rank him 7th in the league, ahead of guys like Cunningham, Gomez, and Wolff. So in my book, he's a Best XI contender.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Don't make him angry!

While the effort was great, DC United fans had the wrong idea yesterday with their banner making fun of Landon Donovan. He's a guy who seems to play better when he's motivated, and always gets up for the big games, as we've seen in the MLS Cup and in South Korea. His time with Leverkusen was a disappointment, but it's obvious his heart was never in it in the first place, or he wouldn't have had an arrangement worked out to return before he even went. He also didn't play well in San Jose earlier this year, but I don't think he was expecting that level of reaction. Besides, it's not like he hates the Earthquakes. The most talented player in MLS, hands down. He just needs to show up for every game like he did yesterday.

Also, something worth mentioning from Wednesday's World Cup qualifiers. Saudi Arabia became the first team to finish qualifying undefeated (not counting teams that drew twice in a playoff, like Cuba). Of course, that's not exactly a sign of future success. 2002's undefeated teams:

10 1 Tunisia 8 0 2 26 28 5 23
10 2 Sweden 8 0 2 26 20 3 17
10 3 Portugal 7 0 3 24 33 7 26
12 4 Slovenia 6 0 6 24 20 11 9
10 5 Denmark 6 0 4 22 22 6 16
8 6 South Africa 7 0 1 22 13 3 10
8 7 Spain 6 0 2 20 21 4 17
8 8 Italy 6 0 2 20 16 3 13
8 9 Croatia 5 0 3 18 15 2 13

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Scott Sealy should not be rookie of the year

Scott Sealy now has 9 goals on the year after scoring twice last night, and he's tied for fourth in the league. That's pretty impressive. But I don't believe he's the top rookie. A breakdown of his goals: (the links take you to the highlights)

1st-Off a goalmouth scramble. Not on tv. (4/23)
2nd-Rimando can't handle the cross, has an open net. (5/21)
3rd- Roberts' shot hits the post, he's right there to put it away. (7/16)
4th- Preki runs through the defense, gets it to Sealy at the top of box. Nice crossover to beat the defender. (7/16)
5th-Klein shot saved, tap in for the goal. (7/20)
6th-Wolff through ball to Sealy who gets between the defenders. (8/6)
7th-Snuck in behind the defense and easily scored, says mlsnet. Not on tv. (8/13)
8th-Pounces on loose ball in the box. (8/19)
9th-Outruns CJ Brown and slots it past the keeper. (8/19)

Five goals were off of loose balls in the box. Obviously it's not easy to be in the right place all the time, but let's not get carried away here. Out of the nine goals, there wasn't a difficult shot in the bunch. This isn't close to what Damani Ralph was doing in 2003. The Wizards offense has been very impressive, and they've done it with or without him. They've actually scored at a higher rate in games where he didn't start (16/8) than when he did (27/16). That first total does include one goal he scored off the bench.

Sealy has played well, but he doesn't deserve to be the rookie of the year. Chris Rolfe and Michael Parkhurst are also having nice seasons, but Bobby Boswell is the guy you want, who has comfortably stepped into Ryan Nelsen's shoes for DC United.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Offense & Defense: How do MLS teams compare with last year?

I thought it would be interesting to look at the number of points per game for each MLS team, and also look at the goals scored and allowed of each MLS team. We can see who's doing better and worse, and why. I will be sure to update this at the end of the season.

Of course, every returning team should be up a little due to expansion. The average non-expansion team has .176 more points per game this season, and .187 more goals scored per game. Defense is virtually the same. There is an average overall of 0.22 more goals per game. 2005 numbers listed first.


Pts-1.63 vs 1.10
GF-1.71 vs 1.20
GA-1.58 vs 1.47

Defense has actually gotten worse, despite their additions. The improved offense is the reason for the turnaround. Ralph and Razov are gone, but they haven't been missed. I have to believe the midfield has been the difference.

Chivas USA


Heading for the record books. PPG would be the second worst ever (adjusted), and GF and GA worst and fifth worst. Simply awful.


Pts-1.22 vs 1.37
GF-1.26 vs 0.97
GA-1.22 vs 1.07

Pretty much the same story here. Still with a virtually even goal differential. The offense couldn't get much worse, while the defense couldn't really do better. I should note that they are the only team never to have a positive goal differential for any season.


Pts-1.00 vs 1.63
GF-0.90 vs 1.33
GA-1.52 vs 1.07

Much worse in both areas, almost exactly the same decline. Worst decline league wide in both offense and defense. Ouch. Like Chivas, competing to be the worst offensive team ever. Colorado last year at 0.97 is the record.

DC United

Pts-1.73 vs 1.40
GF-1.64 vs 1.43
GA-1.04 vs 1.40

Pretty much an average team for most of last year, they have continued the momentum from the playoffs. Amazing that the defense is so much better without Nelsen, and the offense without Eskandarian. Nowak has the golden touch.

FC Dallas

Pts-1.67 vs 1.20
GF-1.76 vs 1.13
GA-1.38 vs 1.50

Ruiz and company have improved the offense significantly, even taking into account the expansion. They were due after two straight postseasons at home.

Kansas City

Pts-1.65 vs 1.63
GF-1.74 vs 1.27
GA-1.35 vs 1.00

Still winning games, but with offense this year instead of defense. Already involved in seven games where both teams scored two or more goals, which only happened three times last year.

Los Angeles

Pts-1.39 vs 1.43
GF-1.17 vs 1.40
GA-1.17 vs 1.33

Simply a much more defensive team with Sampson in charge, even last year (his 8 games in charge averaged 2 goals per game, Schmid 3). Results have not been better.


Pts-1.39 vs 1.33
GF-1.52 vs 1.57
GA-1.39 vs 1.63

Same results, but defense has improved. That's hard to believe with the guys they have back there.

New England

Pts-1.82 vs 1.10
GF-1.74 vs 1.40
GA-1.09 vs 1.43

They have been awesome, improving in both categories as much as Columbus has declined. I think they just have a group of talented guys who are getting better, and also have avoided injuries for the most part. Last year was the abberation.

Real Salt Lake


Just as bad as Chivas, and also a pretty bad offensive team. Unlike Chivas, they at least play decent at home.

San Jose

Pts-1.73 vs 1.27
GF-1.50 vs 1.37
GA-1.14 vs 1.17

Better without Donovan. The difference this year is that they've been winning the close ones. Last year they were 2-9 in one goal games, while this year they are 8-3. I wonder if like in baseball, luck is the biggest factor? Baseball Prospectus has shown that one run games are mostly the result of luck. Basically, you should win about the same percentage of one run games as the rest of your games. Last year, the Quakes were 7-1 in games decided more than one goal, and again only 2-9 when one goal settled it. So maybe it shouldn't be surprising they are doing so well. Interesting...I must do more research when I have time!


Offense-Biggest Improvement:

1. DAL-0.63
2. CHI-0.51
3. KC-0.47

Offense-Biggest Decline:

1. CLB-0.43
2. LA-0.23
3. MET-0.05

Defense-Biggest Improvement:

1. DC-0.36
2. NE-0.34
3. MET-0.24

Defense-Biggest Decline:

1. CLB-0.45
2. KC-0.35
3. COL-0.15

Thursday, August 18, 2005

USA 1-0 Trinidad

Same old story. We win without playing our best. Antoher lackluster preformance, although it should've been 2-0 if the offsides goal counted. It was great to see Reyna and O'Brien on the field together, and Convey looked great as well...except for the chance he should've buried. I think all of us knew he was going to miss it though. Donovan was bad. He's bringing the "LA malaise" with him. The defense was solid, at least. Reyna would be my man of the match, and I just checked and they agree with me. He's still a sure starter in Germany if healthy. Anyway, now we're virtually qualified, and hopefully the boys will be fired up to beat Mexico and make it official. Bring it on.

Oh, and in MLS tonight, Matt Reis was red carded. That means only 8 players remain who have played every minute this season.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

New FIFA rankings

The USA has surprisingly remained in 6th, as the August rankings have just been posted. There is a big gap between us and England at 7th. This is a big deal because the rankings play a big part in determing the World Cup seeds. Much like the UEFA coefficients (see here), the media hasn't given this much attention.

There is a slight chance of being seeded in the 2006 World Cup (assuming the system isn't changed), but it is unlikely. There are nine teams in front of us. If two of England/France/Italy/Netherlands/Spain fail to qualify, then we'll be in. If one fails to qualify, there is a chance of being ahead of the Netherlands for the final spot. Basically, we want those five teams to lose every game, including the friendlies today (and we want the four locks in front of us, Argentina/Brazil/Germany/Mexico to win every game). Beating Mexico next month would be huge, and surely put us in front of them in the rankings.

(see the multiple threads about this on Bigsoccer here)

The top ranked teams by confederation are Brazil, Netherlands, Mexico, Iran, Egypt, and Austalia. I have figured out which teams have been the number one team in their confederation since the rankings were introduced, in 1993. The formula was changed in 1999 (I believe), to make it more detailed.

I should warn you though, that until a few years ago, I noticed that some teams would have the same amount of points but not show up as being tied in the rankings. One team would be ranked ahead, on FIFA's site. I'm not sure if this was alphabetical or what, so it might be a little off. I could go back and look for instances where the top teams were tied, but I didn't discover that until I was almost done, so I'll worry about it later. I have counted the reigns where the teams were tied since then.

(BTW, interesting that England has never been the top team in UEFA)


1) Mexico (8/93-6/03)
2) United States (6/03-7/03)
3) Mexico (7/03-current)


1) Argentina (8/93-9/93)
2) Brazil (9/93-11/01)
3) Argentina (11/01-4/02)
4) Brazil (4/02-current)


1) Australia (8/93-12/02)
2) New Zealand (12/02-2/03)
3) Australia (2/03-7/03)
4) New Zealand (7/03-9/03)
5) Australia (9/03-current)


1) Nigeria (8/93-7/95)
2) Tunisia (7/95-8/95)
3) Egypt (8/95-9/95)
4) Nigeria (9/95-10/95)
5) Egypt (10/95-11/95)
6) Tunisia (11/95-12/95)
7) Ivory Coast (12/95-1/96)
8) Ghana (1/96-2/96)
9) Zambia (2/96-12/96)
10) Ghana (4/96-5/96)
11) South Africa (12/96-2/97)
12) Ghana (2/97-5/97)
13) Morocco (5/97-2/00)
14) South Africa (2/00-7/01)
15) Tunisia (7/01-2/02)
16) Cameroon (2/02-10/04)
17) Nigeria (10/04-6/05)
18) Cameroon (6/05-7/05)
19) Egypt (7/05-current)


1) South Korea (8/93-11/93)
2) Saudi Arabia (11/93-8/95)
3) Japan (8/95-9/95)
4) Saudi Arabia (9/95-10/95)
5) Japan (10/95-7/98)
6) South Korea (7/98-1/99)
7) Japan (1/99-2/99)
8) South Korea (2/99-8/99)
9) Saudi Arabia (8/99-4/00)
10) South Korea (4/00-6/00)
11) Iran (6/00-7/00)
12) South Korea (7/00-10/00)
13) Iran (10/00-11/00)
14) Japan (11/00-12/00)
15) Saudi Arabia (12/00-1/01)
16) Iran (1/01-2/01)
17) Saudi Arabia (2/01-8/01)
18) Japan (8/01-11/01)
19) Iran (11/01-7/02)
20) South Korea (7/02-7/03)
21) Japan (6/03-10/03)
22) South Korea (10/03-4/04)
23) Iran (4/04-7/04)
24) South Korea (7/04-8/04)
25) Japan (8/04-6/05)
26) Iran (6/05-7/05)
27) Japan (7/05-8/05)
28) Iran (8/05-current)


1) Germany (8/93-9/93)
2) Italy (9/93-10/93)
3) Norway (10/93-11/93)
4) Italy (11/93-12/93)
5) Germany (12/93-7/94)
6) Italy (7/94-11/94)
7) Sweden (11/94-12/94)
8) Spain (12/94-4/95)
9) Italy (4/95-7/95)
10) Norway (7/95-9/95)
11) Italy (9/95-10/95)
12) Spain (10/95-11/95)
13) Germany (11/95-2/96)
14) Italy (2/96-4/96)
15) Germany (4/96-7/96)
16) Spain (7/96-9/96)
17) Germany (9/96-10/96)
18) Spain (10/96-11/96)
19) Germany (11/96-7/98)
20) France (7/98-9/99)
21) Czech Republic (9/99-11/99)
22) France (11/99-12/99)
23) Czech Republic (12/99-6/00)
24) France (6/00-8/02)
25) Spain (8/02-9/02)
26) France (9/02-3/03)
27) Spain (3/03-6/03)
28) France (5/03-4/05)
29) Czech Republic (4/05-7/05)
30) Netherlands (7/05-current)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Introducing the BASA's

I already emailed a couple of people about this, so I might as well post it here:

I just recently started blogging about American soccer, partially because I'm a big fan and I feel I can contribute something, but also because there aren't many blogs on the subject. I wanted to do something that would generate excitement for our little community. I am proud to announce the first ever BASA's. What does that stand for?


It's simple. After the final MLS regular season game is played (Sunday 10/16), I will send an email to a number of American soccer bloggers, and you will vote on a bunch of year end awards (MVP, Rookie of the Year, Best XI, etc.).


1. The deadline for voting will be when the first playoff game kicks off. So you'll have about 5 days to think it over, although I doubt anyone will need that much time.

2. I'm planning on using a baseball style method of voting: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place votes for each category.

3. Only one ballot per blog, no matter how many people write for it.

4. Must be an active blog which deals with American soccer on a regular basis.

I will then tally up the results and post them, one award per day.

I think it will be interesting to see how our opinions compare to the actual MLS awards. Hopefully this will get bigger over the years, and all of us can look back and say we were part of the first edition. I'm also planning to do this at the end of the Euro season in May, for YA's. I know the end of the MLS season is two months away, but I just wanted to let everyone know about my idea now.

There are not many American soccer bloggers, so there won't be a ton of people voting. This will give us all something to write about, plus give us added attention. Of course, I'll be sure to post about it on Bigsoccer.

Here is a list of blogs that have been around for a little while and whom I definitely want to be a part of this:

Climbing the Ladder (duh)
du Nord
Footballs Are Round!
Footcer Socblog
Ramblings of a Soccer Junky
We Call It Soccer

There are a few others who have just started and hopefully will still be active at the end of the season. If so, they are more than welcome to participate. If you would like to be a part of this, please send me your email address so I can have them ready when the season ends. Also feel free to give me any feedback or suggest blogs that I'm forgetting.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Second Half: We've learned a lot already

Earlier, I had some questions about the second half of the MLS season, and two weeks in I already have some answers:

3) New England has remarkably improved their team. They've added Daniel Hernandez and just announced this morning, Ricardo Phillips, who will join in September. They lacked depth, as seen during the Gold Cup, and now they've fixed that problem. If they could just add a solid veteran defender as a backup, like maybe Robin Fraser now that the Crew are dead, they would be near perfect. But with three other (four?) very solid teams, anything can happen in the playoffs.

4) The Metros are on the verge of going away, thanks to the strength of the top four in the East. But they have nine games remaining: 2 against Chivas, and 7 against the teams in front of them. And they beat the Crew yesterday in a game they absolutely had to win. It can definitely be done. But don't bet on it.

7) It's early, but FC Dallas has really fallen off the track. They may be going through the same thing the Galaxy are, which is feasting on expansion teams early and appearing better than you really are:


5-1-0 vs expansion
5-5-5 vs rest of league


6-1-1 vs expansion
3-8-4 vs rest of league

Good news for San Jose and Colorado, who have only played 4 and 3 games vs RSL/Chivas respectively. FC Dallas will still easily make the playoffs, but may not enter as favorites.

8) Yes.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

On the field, all the time (3)

First post
Second Post

Since the last update:

8/6-Bobby Boswell, Nick Garcia, and Jay Heaps all were suspended; Scott Garlick was benched.
8/10-Ezra Hendrickson subbed off.

That brings us down to nine men who have played every minute of the MLS season, on six teams:

2005 Candidates

CLB-Simon Elliot
COL-Nat Borchers, Joe Cannon
KC-Bo Oshoniyi
LA-Todd Dunivant, Kevin Hartman
NE-Michael Parkhurst, Matt Reis
SJ-Pat Onstad

Order of teams being totally wiped out, with last surviving player:

1. RSL-Jason Kreis
2. CHI-Ivan Guerrero
3. MET-Chris Leitch
4. DC-Bobby Boswell
5. DAL-Scott Garlick
6. CHV-Erza Hendrickson

Friday, August 12, 2005

USA vs Trinidad preview (8/17)

G-Hartman, Howard, Keller
D-Albright, Berhalter, Conrad, Onyewu, Vanney
M-Armas, Beasley, Convey, Donovan, Lewis, O'Brien, Reyna, Ralston
F-Cunningham, McBride, Quaranta, Twellman

Announced two days ago, and Beasley has already been ruled out with injury. The list of guys unavailable is a big one:

Beasley, Casey, Cherundolo, Ching, Gibbs, Hejduk, Johnson, Mastroeni, Noonan, Pope

Pope and Hejduk are suspended, the rest are out or still nuring injuries. It is Trinidad after all, and we're at home, so it shouldn't be too difficult. Obviously Bruce likes what he sees in Conrad, but I think that he wouldn't call in Berhalter unless he was going to use him, since he's missing a league game. So look for Berhalter to start alongside Onyewu, with Albright (the de-facto 3rd choice right back) on the right. Since this is a home game, we should be attacking most of the time, so Convey could get the start on the left and play a big role in the attack, like he did against Costa Rica. Although, Vanney can supply a mean cross.

Armas looked decent in the Gold Cup and gets another look. But I'm not sure if there's room in the midfield with O'Brien, Reyna, Lewis, Donovan, and Ralston. All of those guys could start, with Donovan playing behind McBride up top. One of Cunningham and Twellman may be in the lineup, but it doesn't seem likely since they haven't been called up in a while. At least we have some forwards on the bench this time. Quaranta is another guy who has put himself in the mix and should be an offensive sub, probably for Ralston. Armas will probably come on to help kill the game late.

Last time around, we won this fixture 2-0 with Razov and Kirovski leading the attack. We have a better team now, but it seems like we win every game 2-0. At least Trinidad should not score more than once; a combination of their poor offense and our strong defense. We haven't let in more than one goal in eight games. If we beat Costa Rica by three, we can do the same with Trinidad. This win will virtually seal qualification.

Prediction: USA 3-0 Trinidad

Thursday, August 11, 2005

1990 World Cup: It really was the era of defense

For someone like myself, who didn't get into soccer until MLS started, you always hear about how the game was much more defensive. The 1990 World Cup is famous for being the most defensive of all time, with only 2.21 goals per game (GPG). Since then, FIFA stopped allowing goalkeepers to pick up back passes, and along with other rule changes the scoring has picked back up. But I think we should look back and see just how bad it was. Here are the GPG of the last continental tournaments before that World Cup:

2.27-Euro 1988
2.12-Copa America 1989
1.67-Asian Cup 1988
1.44-African Nations Cup 1988

It was clearly an epidemic. I can't even imagine a tournament with only 1.44 GPG (Out of 16 games, in only 2 did a team score more than once). So it was pretty bad. Since 1992, only the 2002 Gold Cup (1.95), the 2001 Confederations Cup (1.94), and the 2002 ANC (1.50) were under 2.00.

I figured out the GPG for every confederation championship, including the older Oceania and CONCACAF tournaments, and I also included the World Cup and Confederations Cup. So here's the data for 134 tournaments:

1910s 3 3.45
1920s 9 3.59
1930s 6 4.12
1940s 6 3.94
1950s 12 3.92
1960s 18 3.26
1970s 16 2.95
1980s 17 2.50
1990s 27 2.82
2000s 20 2.84

Total 134 3.13

OFC 7 4.47
CONMEBOL 41 3.43
World Cup 17 3.23
Con Cup 7 3.04
CONCACAF 13 2.89
AFC 13 2.80
UEFA 12 2.71
CAF 24 2.70

Total 134 3.13

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Goal Differential & Playoffs

Right now, the Metrostars would be out of the playoffs, despite having a goal differential of +5. No team in MLS history has missed the playoffs with a positive GD:

Top 5 GD, didn't make playoffs

30 1 Columbus 10 12 8 38 44 44 0 2003
32 2 San Jose 19 13 10 37 48 49 -1 1999
32 3 Miami 12 15 5 41 54 56 -2 2000
32 4 San Jose 12 20 3 30 55 59 -4 1997
32 5 Kansas City 12 20 2 32 45 50 -5 1998

Worst 5 GD, made playoffs

32 1 Miami 15 17 5 35 46 68 -22 1998
27 2 Kansas City 11 13 3 36 33 53 -20 2001
32 3 Miami 13 19 5 29 42 59 -17 1999
32 4 Dallas 15 17 4 37 43 59 -16 1998
32 4 Colorado 13 15 4 43 43 59 -16 2000

Monday, August 08, 2005

MLS: One step forward, one step back?

No, the title has nothing to do with the quality of play. I'm talking about preformance from year to year. I've always been interested in statistics, as you can tell, and one of the best sites is Baseball Prospectus. One of the ideas I've read there is about how teams that make a big jump up or down almost always come back to earth the next year (see the 2001 White Sox or 2002 Mariners). I thought I would take a look to see if it applies in MLS.

Through 2004, there have been 98 MLS seasons. Minus the first and last seasons for each team, and that's 74 seasons to take a look at. The first thing I did was eliminate the shootout and consider all of those games to be draws. Since the number of games is different for each year, I used points per game. I then measured the change from year to year.

An example of what I did:

Metrostars adjusted PPG

1996: 1.28
1997: 1.16
1998: 1.22
1999: 0.63
2000: 1.69
2001: 1.62
2002: 1.25
2003: 1.40
2004: 1.33

The first value is the change from the previous year, and the second is the change the next year:

1997: -0.13, 0.06
1998: 0.06, -0.59
1999: -0.59, 1.06
2000: 1.06, -0.07
2001: -0.07, -0.37
2002: -0.37, 0.15
2003: 0.15, -0.07

I did this for all 74 seasons, and tried to look for a pattern. Here's my results:

The number on the left is the change in ppg of any given season, and the number on the right is the ppg of the next season. The middle is the number of teams in that range. You have in groups of .10, .20, .25, and .50.

0.50 7 -0.28
0.40 2 -0.89
0.30 3 -0.07
0.20 5 0.09
0.10 11 -0.14
0.00 11 -0.15
-0.01 7 -0.10
-0.10 5 0.31
-0.20 6 0.02
-0.30 7 0.29
-0.40 5 0.08
-0.50 5 0.45

0.20 17 -0.21
0.00 22 -0.11
-0.01 13 0.06
-0.20 22 0.21

0.26 12 -0.33
0.00 27 -0.08
-0.01 17 0.04
-0.26 18 0.26

0.50 7 -0.28
0.00 32 -0.15
-0.01 30 0.11
-0.50 5 0.45

The next data is whether or not teams had a pos or neg PPG change.

pos 36 -0.18
zero 3 0.21
neg 35 0.15

This takes into account the number of years in a row ppg increased or decreased. That is, positive or negative years in a row, not the rate increasing. Only 23 times did a team go the same way two years in a row. DC has actually increased the past 4 years in a row.

u3 3 0.00
u2 10 -0.19
u1 36 -0.18

d1 35 0.15
d2 10 0.33

It seems that overall, teams are likely to increase after a decrease and vice versa. Of course, the teams who miss the playoffs have an advantage, due to the "You Suck Allocation." Let's seperate the teams into playoff and non-playoff teams, and see how they did the next season:

PO 53 -0.13
miss 21 0.30

Now, let's break down each group and see what happens:

Playoff teams

pos 31 -0.24
neg 20 0.01


pos 5 0.16
neg 15 0.35

The difference is pretty consistant whether you make the playoffs or not, although not making the playoffs overrides anything. Let's see how many years you make or miss the playoffs in a row has to do with anything:

Playoff teams

1 12 -0.12
2+ 41 -0.13


1 14 0.30
2+ 7 0.31

Doesn't appear to have made a difference.

Of course, the ultimate use of stats is to predict how teams will do the following season. PO2 is the breakdown of whether or not Playoff/missed teams were sporting pos. or neg. ppg change.

2004 points are listed first, then the other columns are what the 2005 point total is predicted to be based on the different ways of looking at the data. Of course, this takes into account the 2 extra games this year.

04 pts 0.10 0.20 0.25 .50
+/- U/D PO PO2
Dallas 36 10 32 28 34 33 33 48 43
Columbus 49 50 46 42 48 46 46 48 45
Kansas City 49 55 46 50 48 46 46 48 45
Los Angeles 43 49 39 43 41 40 40 42 38
DC United 42 40 41 42 40 39 45 41 37
Colorado 41 39 40 41 39 38 38 39 36
Metrostars 40 39 45 44 46 48 48 38 43
New England 33 38 42 44 39 40 40 31 35
San Jose 38 43 47 49 44 45 45 36 41
Chicago 33 50 42 44 50 40 40 45 46

I don't know how accurate these are. Maybe these totals should be inflated due to expansion. Dallas is severely underrated, probably because of the incredibly bad 2003 season. And of course, there is limited data to work with. It would be interested to try it with other leagues, although promotion and relegation could be a problem. Well, this is just a starting point so if you have any thoughts or suggestions, let me know. Peace.

(bigsoccer thread)