Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Longest Streaks In MLS History - Overall, Home, Away

These lists only take into account regular season matches. In addition, all shootouts (1996-9) are considered draws.

Most Games Unbeaten - OVERALL

Games Record First Game Last Game
1 Columbus 19 9-0-10 2004-07-03 2005-04-02
2 DC United 16 11-0-5 1996-09-17 1997-06-14
3 Los Angeles 15 14-0-1 1997-09-07 1998-05-17
4 DC United 14 10-0-4 2006-05-13 2006-07-22
4 San Jose 14 11-0-3 2005-07-20
6 Colorado 12 8-0-4 1998-09-16 1999-05-27
6 Dallas 12 6-0-6 1999-03-20 1999-06-05
6 Kansas City 12 10-0-2 2000-03-25 2000-05-27
6 Los Angeles 12 10-0-2 1996-04-13 1996-06-26
6 Los Angeles 12 7-0-5 1999-10-09 2000-05-20
6 Miami 12 9-0-3 2001-04-21 2001-07-04
6 New England 12 8-0-4 2004-10-16 2005-06-11
6 San Jose 12 7-0-5 2001-04-28 2001-07-04

Greg Andrulis' much maligned playoff failure in 2004 is what's best remembered, but the Crew won the Supporters Shield that year thanks to a long, hard fought unbeaten run. They certainly didn't play great for the majority of it, but they did enough to not lose, as evidenced by the number of draws during the streak. I guess as the record holders they could be considered the "Arsenal of MLS" like my old post title said. Truly a massive team.

San Jose will be in position to break this record next year upon their return, but the odds aren't good with the roster they're likely to field. The other big current streak is the Houston Dynamo, who have gone 11 games without a loss (8-0-3). When they take the field Saturday at Real Salt Lake, they can break into the top ten streaks.

Most Games Winless - OVERALL

Games Record First Game Last Game
1 New York 19 0-15-4 1999-05-22 1999-09-05
2 Real Salt Lake 18 0-16-2 2005-08-10 2006-05-06
3 Real Salt Lake 15 0-6-9 2006-09-23 2007-06-17
4 Columbus 13 0-7-6 1996-05-15 1996-07-20
4 Columbus 13 0-7-6 2006-06-10 2006-08-16
6 Chivas USA 11 0-9-2 2005-05-14 2005-07-02
6 San Jose 11 0-5-6 1999-03-20 1999-05-27
8 Dallas 10 0-7-3 2005-07-02 2005-09-10
8 DC United 10 0-6-4 2002-07-04 2002-08-25
8 Kansas City 10 0-8-2 1998-09-17 1999-04-28
8 Los Angeles 10 0-8-2 2006-05-06 2006-06-24
8 Miami 10 0-7-3 1998-05-16 1998-07-18
8 New England 10 0-8-2 1999-07-11 1999-09-04
8 Real Salt Lake 10 0-8-2 2005-05-21 2005-07-16
8 San Jose 10 0-4-6 2004-09-08 2005-04-16
8 Tampa Bay 10 0-9-1 2001-04-28 2001-06-16

The 1999 Metrostars are commonly referred to as the worst team in MLS history, although they actually are only the fourth worst (or tied for third if you don't use goal differential). Still, it was a season to forget. All this while being coached by legend Bora Milutinovic.

It's amazing how prevalent RSL is on this chart after only 2.5 seasons. RSL + futility = BFFs. One thing that Salt Lake fans can take comfort in, however, is the fact that the Colorado Rapids are currently suffering through a 9 game winless streak, or one away from making this list. When they play at Dallas on Saturday, they can make the top ten all time worst.

Most Games Unbeaten - HOME GAMES ONLY

Games Record First Game Last Game
1 San Jose 18 9-0-9 2004-09-25
2 Los Angeles 17 11-0-6 2004-07-04 2005-07-16
3 Colorado 16 10-0-6 2003-05-31 2004-05-22
3 DC United 16 11-0-5 1996-09-17 1997-09-16
5 Chicago 15 13-0-2 2000-05-24 2001-05-26
5 Los Angeles 15 12-0-3 2002-06-08 2003-07-04
5 San Jose 15 9-0-6 1999-08-21 2000-07-04
5 San Jose 15 14-0-1 2001-08-25 2002-09-07
9 DC United 14 9-0-5 1998-03-21 1998-08-22
9 Los Angeles 14 11-0-3 1997-09-07 1998-07-18

The Earthquakes were amazing at home from 2001-2005, and like the overall streak they'll have a chance to continue this one next year. The difference is that they already have the record here, fueled by the first ever unbeaten season at home in 2005.

This list is funny because several teams here aren't what you would call great: SJ 1999-2000, COL 2003-4, and LA 2004-5.

Currently, Chivas USA has a 10 game home unbeaten streak. Last loss was against DC on September 3rd of last year. Is that surprising? The overall streaks of Houston and Colorado are easy to pick up on, but something like this over two seasons and just at home can kind of sneak up on you.

Most Games Winless - HOME GAMES ONLY

Games Record First Game Last Game
1 New York 11 0-8-3 1999-05-29 1999-09-22
2 Los Angeles 9 0-6-3 2005-10-15 2006-06-24
2 Real Salt Lake 9 0-8-1 2005-08-13 2006-05-06
2 San Jose 9 0-6-3 2000-06-21 2000-08-26
5 Columbus 8 0-4-4 2006-05-20 2006-08-16
5 New England 8 0-6-2 1998-05-16 1998-07-29
5 Tampa Bay 8 0-5-3 2000-08-26 2001-06-06
8 New York 7 0-3-4 2004-10-02 2005-05-21
9 Chivas USA 6 0-4-2 2005-05-22 2005-07-02
9 Columbus 6 0-3-3 1996-05-19 1996-07-20
9 Dallas 6 0-4-2 2002-09-05 2003-05-17
9 Dallas 6 0-3-3 2005-07-02 2005-09-10
9 Real Salt Lake 6 0-2-4 2006-10-07 2007-06-14
9 San Jose 6 0-2-4 1999-03-20 1999-05-22
9 San Jose 6 0-1-5 2004-08-28 2005-04-09

This list and the next one are where you see just how important home field advantage in MLS has been. Again we see the 1999 Metros' incompetence here. Several of the top streaks are more recent, though.

I don't believe any team has as many as 5 in a row currently.

Most Games Unbeaten - AWAY GAMES ONLY

Games Record First Game Last Game
1 Columbus 9 2-0-7 2004-07-10 2004-10-16
2 DC United 8 5-0-3 1997-03-29 1997-06-14
2 DC United 8 5-0-3 1999-07-04 1999-09-25
2 DC United 8 4-0-4 2006-05-20 2006-07-22
2 Tampa Bay 8 3-0-5 1999-07-25 1999-10-06
6 Houston 7 2-0-5 2006-04-29 2006-07-15
6 Los Angeles 7 7-0-0 1997-09-14 1998-05-17
6 New England 7 4-0-3 2002-08-24 2003-05-24
6 New York 7 2-0-5 2005-10-05 2006-06-03
6 San Jose 7 4-0-3 2003-06-14 2003-08-16

The 2004 Crew hold this record as well, despite only getting two wins (remember the Buddle free kick vs the Fire?). Last year, Jeff Cunningham's 96th minute penalty (his second of the match) for RSL defeated DC United and stopped them from a piece of this record.

Currently, San Jose is also riding a 6 game streak going into next year, while the Dynamo could set the record this year; they're sitting at 5 games.

Most Games Winless - AWAY GAMES ONLY

Games Record First Game Last Game
1 Kansas City 21 0-16-5 1998-05-20 1999-08-08
1 New York 21 0-17-4 1998-06-20 1999-08-28
3 Real Salt Lake 19 0-17-2 2005-04-02 2006-04-22
4 Colorado 18 0-12-6 1996-05-25 1997-06-07
4 DC United 18 0-15-3 2001-07-18 2002-09-07
6 Los Angles 17 0-10-7 2003-04-05 2004-05-01
7 Chicago 14 0-9-5 2004-05-08 2005-04-09
7 Chivas USA 14 0-11-3 2005-04-09 2005-09-10
9 Real Salt Lake 13 0-7-6 2006-08-26
9 Tampa Bay 13 0-8-5 1996-09-18 1997-07-27

1999 Metros strike again, but KC was pretty bad back then as well. At least they got a good head coach out of their poor play (Bob Gansler). LA's streak is notable as well; it started when they had to go on the road for the first two months of 2003 before the Home Depot Center opened.

RSL is back on this list after nearing the record last season. It's sad, yet amusing. All time away record: 40 games played, 4-28-8, 37 goals for and 84 against, GD of -47.

Friday, July 27, 2007

lolmls #2

Part One

Post your own on this Bigsoccer thread. I'll post the best ones here occasionally.

If you're not familiar with the whole lolcats phenomenon and these pictures confuse you, read this.


1. tummy ouches (lolherron, lolmoreno) - ZipSix
2. THIS IS MAROOOOOOOOOON!!! (lolbrown) - glyconerd
3. we IZ mahjur leegue, k? (lolwiz) - scaryice
4. Coincidence? (loldonovan, lolsampson) - scaryice
5. SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND !! (lolpreki) - glyconerd
6. Im off muh line... (lolcannon) - scaryice
7. SHORYUKEN!!111 (lolrimando) - DevP
8. Which way 2 basement plz? (lolbeckerman) - scaryice
9. donotwantx2 - DevP
10. Ur in my locker room..... (lolgonzalez) - blkbrnrvr
11. I AM A REAL AMERICAN (lolkeller) - scaryice

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Step Two: Proving His Worth To The Fans

By Tim Froh
Contributing Writer – Climbing the Ladder

While the ultimate effect of David Beckham’s arrival to MLS will probably not be felt on the pitch but in the pocketbooks of AEG executives, the tremendous impact he has already had on the American sporting landscape was keenly felt at the Home Depot Center this past Saturday. After a brash challenge on the Galaxy’s prized asset by Chelsea newcomer Steve Sidwell, nearly everyone watching, from MLS executives, to fans, to Posh herself, held their breaths as the already-injured Beckham managed to hoist himself up off the ground under his own power. So much seems to be at stake, not only monetarily, but also for the reputation of the league, and while Beckham may or may not have a positive impact on his club’s fortunes and on the state of play in MLS as a whole, his ability to get onto the field and play is of the utmost importance, to the Galaxy, to its sponsors, and most importantly, to the fans (and to those who are fans but don’t know it yet).

Meanwhile, in Chicago, the league’s other major DP signing, Mexico’s infamous Cuauhtemoc Blanco, scored in his debut match against Celtic. That match, which was attended by a sizeable enough crowd, still must have disappointed the Fire brass, who doubtless expected Mexican fans to attend in droves, at least initially. Blanco’s arrival and immediate impact on the pitch bode well for the future of the DP. Indeed, rumors now abound that the Fire are close to signing Costa Rican striker Paulo Wanchope. If true, the Fire will have instantly improved their attack and bolstered their offensive options. The onus is now on head coach Carlos Osorio to keep Blanco happy and productive in a new league with new teammates.

Whether Blanco goes on to score a goal every game (unlikely) or Beckham helps the Galaxy achieve offensive cohesion by notching an assist every match (unlikely) ultimately doesn’t matter. The DP signings have already been a success. Blanco has brought unprecedented levels of Spanish-language media coverage to the Fire, while Beckham has only recently graced the cover of ESPN the Magazine and earned the Galaxy equally unprecedented shirt sales (supposedly over 250,000 Beckham jerseys have been preordered). Even if the two players are busts (barring injury, also unlikely), the signings will not only have already paid for themselves but they will have hopefully turned on at least a few thousand people onto MLS.

And this is the point that the pundits at ESPN don’t understand. The goal is not to convert legions of American sports fans into soccer fanatics. Beckham isn’t here to “save soccer” because soccer in America doesn’t need “saving.” Instead, he’s here to raise the viability and recognition of a league that hasn’t had international star players since its inception (even there, it’s debatable whether Carlos Valderrama and Marco Etcheverry had a significant impact on attendance and viability – certainly though, their presence was felt on the pitch), and who have realized in the last two seasons, particularly after the success of Toronto FC this season, that the key is not to try and convert non-fans but to win over the countless millions who already love and watch the sport.

This is not going to be a problem that is solved overnight. Toronto, unlike other MLS cities, is something of an exception to the rule. Not only is it an enormous market that has long cried out for a major sporting team (or so some Toronto fans have told me), but one with an incredibly diverse international population that has long supported the sport. So while Beckham’s impact may create an initial flurry of high attendances and media interest, the trick will be sustaining this momentum. While some may have already converted, raising the quality of play is the only sure way of winning over the already-fans. If the quality of play can increase step-for-step with the continual increase in media exposure, MLS need not worry about finding new owners, filling up stadia, and negotiating television contracts.

By the looks of things, the Galaxy are already trying valiantly to do their part. The English media had a field-day with Los Angeles’ appalling performance in their friendly against Tigres. However, they more than held their own in their 2-1 victory over Mexican club Pachuca in the Superliga on Tuesday night. Abel Xavier has proved an inspired and important signing, and some Galaxy players, notably Cannon, Donovan, and Cobi Jones, seem to have stepped up their play of late. It’s still not too late for the Galaxy to try and make a run for the playoffs (no matter how unlikely that prospect may seem), and Beckham’s return from injury should help immensely. Beckham’s already proved his value to MLS only having played fourteen minutes against Chelsea. Now his most important test is whether he can prove his worth to the fans and to the fickle Los Angeles sports crowd.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

MLS: Starts From Inception

EDIT: Brennan's streak is now over.

Which players started the most consecutive games for their respective MLS teams from the beginning, the franchise's first game? There are two ways to look at this, league matches only (aka regular season) or all competitions. Both lists are below (only the top player for each team is listed).

Jim Brennan is the last man standing for Toronto FC, having started all 17 of their games so far. That's only good enough to tie for 13th in both categories, and he's one yellow away from suspension. So catching up to Mark Chung is extremely unlikely.

Regular Season Only

1 Mark Chung

2 Steve Trittschuh

3 Pat Onstad

4 Jeff Agoos

5 Tim Martin

6 Chris Armas

6 Mark Dodd


Richard Farrer


Diego Sonora

8 Steve Ralston

Jim Brennan



Billy Thompson

Mark Semioli

12 Ezra Hendrickson

13 Leo Cullen

14 Welton

14 Rhett Harty

16 Clint Mathis


All Competitions

1 Mark Chung


2 Steve Trittschuh


3 Jeff Agoos


4 Tim Martin


5 Mark Dodd


Richard Farrer


6 Lubos Kubik


7 Steve Ralston


Jim Brennan



Ezra Hendrickson


Billy Thompson


Ricardo Clark


Brian Mullan


Mark Semioli


13 Leo Cullen


14 Welton


14 Rhett Harty


16 Clint Mathis


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

MLS Goal #6,000

Last week, I mentioned that MLS was on the verge of a milestone, sitting at 5,994 goals going into the weekend. Well, we not not only hit that but also got up to 6,007 on a goal-filled Sunday. The only question is, who ended up with the milestone goal?

NE-HOU was the day's first game, and there were 6 goals in that game. But you can't immediately assume that the sixth goal there was the milestone goal, because there were two other games going on at the same time. NE-HOU started at 4pm Eastern, while NY-DC and CLB-TOR started at 5pm Eastern. So both of those games played their first halves during the second half of NE-HOU. Both Crew goals were in the second half, so you can forget about that game. However, John Wolyniec's goal for the Red Bulls was early in that game, which means we have to check the play-by-play on MLSnet to find out where his goal fits in the order.

NE-HOU play by play
NY-DC play by play

Here's the first three goals in the first game:

5,995-Pat Noonan
5,996-Dwayne De Rosario
5,997-Taylor Twellman

The rest of the goals, however, were scored in a short time period. So we have to look at the MLSnet times which are conveniently given at the start of each half:

NE-HOU - "Half 2 Started @ 5:11 P.M. ET."
NY-DC - "Match Started @ 5:06 P.M. ET."

Using this, we can now determine the order of the goals:

5,998-John Wolyniec (18'54" or 5:24 pm)
5,999-Brian Ching (59'11" or 5:25 pm)
6,000-Brian Ching (60'41" or 5:26 pm)
6,001-Shalrie Joseph (65'47" or 5:31 pm)

So Brian Ching's second goal, the header off a Stuart Holden free kick, is the 6,000th goal in MLS history. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else other than this blog, so enjoy.

Note: I don't entirely trust MLS to be correct to the second, so Wolyniec and Ching's first may actually be in the wrong order. But that has no effect on the 6,000th, as an error of a couple of minutes seems unlikely. Anyone who was watching both the games at the same time, please correct me if the order here is wrong. I did make sure to check the pbp threads on Bigsoccer, and it seemed Wolyniec's definitely was before Ching's second.

MLS Milestone Goals

1,000 Thomas Dooley 9/14/1997 CLB vs KC
2,000 Alex Bunbury 7/3/1999 KC @ TB
3,000 Sasha Victorine 5/9/2001 LA @ TB
4,000 Mark Chung 6/25/2003 COL vs LA
5,000 Andy Williams 8/6/2005 RSL vs CHV
6,000 Brian Ching

Based on the current scoring rate (2.63 goals per game), I would estimate that we'll see the 7,000th goal sometime in June 2009.

Monday, July 23, 2007

MLS 2007 - Week 16 Goals

Rapidshare-wmv (5 mb). Downloadable version doesn't have the url at the beginning. It's also slightly better quality-wise than Youtube (they convert videos to flash which makes them worse).

Music: Lumidee f/Tony Sunshine - "She's Like The Wind"

Notes: Notice the MLSnet "quality" on the second goal. Usually I can notice such things before I save the video, but not this time. Oh well, it almost looks like I meant to do it. Actually, it looks way worse in WMP than on Youtube.

Week 16 Results:

New England Revolution 3:3 Houston Dynamo
Columbus Crew 2:0 Toronto FC
Red Bull New York 1:0 DC United
Kansas City Wizards 2:2 Colorado Rapids

(in order shown)

Dwayne De Rosario
Guillermo Barros Schelotto
Eddie Johnson
Brian Ching
Taylor Twellman
Eddie Johnson
Pat Noonan
Brian Ching
Facundo Erpen
Guillermo Barros Schelotto
Shalrie Joseph
Jovan Kirovski
John Wolyniec

Saturday, July 21, 2007

2010 Seeding Formula: July 2007 update

The new FIFA rankings are out for July, so it's once again time to look ahead to the next World Cup.

Top 7 teams seeded

(South Africa automatically seeded as hosts)

1 Brazil 61.3 29.3 32
2 Germany 58.3 30.3 28
3 Italy 57.3 27.3 30
4 France 52.3 23.3 29
5 Argentina 52.0 21.0 31
6 Spain 49.3 25.3 24
7 England 47.3 26.3 21
7 Portugal 47.3 22.3 25

9 Mexico 42.3 19.3 23
10 Netherlands 41.7 14.7 27
11 Croatia 35.0 9.0 26
12 USA 32.7 13.7 19
13 Ukraine 32.2 16.7 15.5
14 Czech 28.0 6.0 22
15 Paraguay 23.7 11.7 12
16 Japan 21.3 13.3 8
17 Cameroon 21.0 3.0 18
18 Serbia 20.8 5.3 15.5
19 Ghana 20.3 13.3 7
20 Romania 20.0 0.0 20
21 Korea 17.7 15.7 2
22 Greece 17.0 0.0 17
23 Cote d'Ivoire 17.0 6.0 11
24 Uruguay 16.7 2.7 14
25 Australia 16.3 11.3 5
26 Nigeria 15.7 2.7 13
27 Costa Rica 12.3 8.3 4
28 Iran 11.3 5.3 6
29 Colombia 10.0 0.0 10
30 Morocco 9.0 0.0 9
31 South Africa 4.0 3.0 1
32 Uzbekistan 3.0 0.0 3

England and Portugal are exactly tied for the last spot as of now. I dunno how a tie would be broken, but it's unlikely we would have one when the draw is made, and also I'm sure FIFA would alter the formula somehow so it couldn't happen, thus making speculating over tiebreakers pointless.

Mexico's jump shows that if they can stay in the top ten in the FIFA rankings, they have a decent shot at a seed. Still a longshot, but they're a more likely seed than the Netherlands. Sweden's ranking decreased this month and they are replaced by Serbia, the only change.

For an FAQ on these rankings and links to previous editions, see this link.

Mock Draw

Pot 1: Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Spain
Pot 2: Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine
Pot 3: Australia, Costa Rica, Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Mexico, USA, Uzbekistan
Pot 4: Cameroon, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, Paraguay, Uruguay

Group A: South Africa, Romania, Iran, Colombia
Group B: Spain, Ukraine, Mexico, Paraguay
Group C: Brazil, Czech, Costa Rica, Nigeria
Group D: England, Croatia, Uzbekistan, Ghana
Group E: France, Portugal, Japan, Cameroon
Group F: Italy, Greece, South Korea, Uruguay
Group G: Argentina, Netherlands, Australia, Morocco
Group H: Germany, Serbia, USA, Cote d'Ivoire

South Africa and Italy automatically put in their groups. I picked England as a seed for this cuz they're more likely to get it in the end.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Complexities of Losing

by Tim Froh
Special to Climbing the Ladder

Tired, dejected, and bewildered, the heavily favored U.S. U-20s left the field last Saturday losers to an Austrian side that few suspected of winning. In typical fashion, fans were quick to blame everything from the slick FieldTurf at BMO Field, to head coach Thomas Rongen, to the entire structure of the USSF. In spreading the blame around though, only a few fans recognized those aspects of the tournament that were both a cause for celebration and a point of great concern. Taking a close and careful look at the tournament in its entirety, it's very clear that the U.S. still has a lot of work to do in its development of young players, but there is still much to be excited about.

Most of the typical complains begin with head coach Thomas Rongen. Understand first that I am not a big Rongen fan. I've never quite seen his supposed love for Total Football replicated on the pitch, and his in-game tactics are questionable at best. Nevertheless, what was clear even before the tournament was that Rongen has a very astute eye for young talent and is, by all accounts, a players' coach. The most common criticism, that Rongen failed to rotate his players and use his subs, has some basis in reality. Certainly, the U.S. team stood little chance of advancing to the final unless Rongen made sure that his key players got the rest that they needed. This rest never materialized and was made even more baffling by Rongen's insistence on starting at least one obviously injured players in the match against Austria, goalkeeper Chris Seitz. Had he used his substitutions more carefully against Uruguay, it's very possible that we would have seen a fresher, more relaxed side against Austria.

Still, if there are those willing to conceede Rongen's eye for talent, they should also understand the inevitable conclusion: the U.S. team was not deep enough. This was doubtless compounded before the tournament by winger Johann Smith's unfortunate injury. While his substitute Sal Zizzo stepped up and played superbly against both Poland and Brazil, he faded as the tournament progressed, and would have provided a huge spark had Smith not gone down to injury. Outside of Zizzo though, Rongen seems to have trusted few of his other bench players, opting more often than not to make defensive substitutions. While this may be indicative of a more defensive-oriented coaching style, Rongen's reluctance to bring Akpan, Ferrari, and Zimmerman speaks volumes about his confidence in their attacking abilities.

But even if we set aside some of Rongen's game management failures, what the U.S. accomplished in Canada stands as a towering achievement. No, it doesn't compare to the run of the 1999 U-17 team, but I've never seen a U.S. squad on any level look as good offensively as the U.S. U-20s looked against Poland. Firing on all cylinders, the entire squad looked to pass the ball forward, almost always on the ground, and almost always with quick, precise passes. Against Brazil, the U-20s looked just as good, but the Brazilians' offensive prowess really tested the backline and in particular, goalkeeper Chris Seitz. Nevertheless, these were two of the best performances by a U.S. youth team that I've ever seen, and it was a joy to watch them having fun.

While the games against Korea, Uruguay, and Austria were all sloppy, the two matches against Poland and Brazil showed the world a whole new crop of quality American attacking talents. Rogers, Adu, Altidore, Zizzo, and Szetela all looked stunning offensively. Adu's corner work to set up the U.S.' second goal against Brazil was a thing of beauty, as was Altidore's first goal. The troublesome temptation is to immediately bring these players into the senior National Team. There is no doubt that the U.S. is currently experiencing a dearth of quality scoring options up front, but that still does not mean that we should rush along players like Adu and Altidore, no matter how close they may be to truly breaking out.

Report Card:

Altidore: A-
This was a very strong tournament for the youngest player on the squad, Josmer Altidore. Not only did he score four goals from the run of play, but he remained a physical presence up top throughout the tournament. He's like Onyewu in that his size and physicality ensures that calls will go against him most of the time. While he had a tendency to fade from games (doubtless from fatigue) he worked hard in an extremely difficult role as the lone striker up top. His combination play with Adu can only whet our appetites for what we might see in the future.

Adu: A-
Without a doubt this was Adu's strongest ever youth tournament. While some fans have criticized him because of his struggles against older professionals in MLS, what they fail to understand is that Adu is only an eighteen year-old. He began playing in MLS when he was fourteen. Struggles were inevitable, but Adu seems to have grown a lot as a player, and he was instrumental to the U.S.' success against Poland and Brazil. His play in those two games made scouts remember why they had salivated over him so many years before and demonstrated that Adu is still one of the world's top prospects in his age group.

Rogers: B+
Rogers, like Altidore and Zizzo, struggled from fatigue as the tournament wore on. However, in the first half against Austria he showed what a menace he can be, using his pace and skill on the ball to consistently beat his defender. With a nice shot and a decent cross, Rogers was an attacking force on the left and was unfortunate not to get a goal in this tournament. However, a tendency to fade late and his occasionally shaky defense leaves him with a lower grade than two of his other attacking counterparts.

Zizzo: A-
Zizzo struggled later in the tournament, especially against both Uruguay and Austria as fatigue began to sink in. But against Poland and Brazil as well as against Korea (a game in which he was one of the few bright spots), he was a terror on the right side of Rongen's 4-3-3. He combined well offensively with his UCLA teammate and U-20 right back Beltran, and made smart, dangerous runs at opposing defenses. His touch and pace make him an intriguing prospect in a traditionally depleted position (right midfield).

Bradley: B+
No player, with the exception of maybe Adu, took as much criticism throughout the tournament as Michael Bradley. This is natural, especially since he's Bob Bradley's son and now a regular with the senior team. Expectations were understandably high and Bradley didn't quite deliver. He has a frustrating tendency (both with the senior team and with the U-20s) to pass the ball square or back instead of forward. However, he's also a strong ball-winner and a smart defensive player. His tireless work against Uruguay (not to mention his goal) helped us win that game almost single-handedly.

Szetela: B+
It's hard for me to give a player (let alone a two-way midfielder) who scored three goals anything less than an "A-" but Szetela warrants it. His knockout performance against Poland aside, Danny's defense and ball-winning was often suspect, as was his passing. Still, his goal scoring and finishing ability was impressive. His work also helped set up the game-tying goal against Uruguay. He still needs to hone the responsibilities of his position though before he can become a solid and consistent professional.

Beltran: B-
Knowing little about the U.S.' defenders before the tournament I can't say I was very impressed coming out of it. Beltran, while a very good crosser of the ball, was often caught out of position and had all kinds of trouble man-marking and ball-winning. It remains to be seen whether he can translate his offensive skills and manage his defensive skills to make it at the next level.

Sturgis: B+
If there was one defensive bright spot in this tournament though, it would have to be Sturgis. While not particularly tall, his game reminds me a lot of Michael Parkhurst's. He is a solid player who reads the game well, makes smart challenges, and organizes very well. That the U.S. didn't concede more goals is credit to Sturgis and Seitz.

Valentin: B-
Valentin was supposed to provide some kind of aerial presence in the middle. If that's true, than he was a total failure. More importantly, his defensive tactics and positioning were suspect, and unlike some of our other defenders, he just did not have enough speed to compensate (something that Marvell Wynne has discovered really only works at the youth level). His game still needs a lot of work.

Wallace: B
Until the game against Austria, Wallace had been something of a pleasant surprise. While still raw, his positioning was solid and his runs forward and passing out of the back were quite good. Against Austria he looked sluggish and slow. He was getting beat so consistently it was only a matter of time before he received his second yellow. Whether this was because his deficiencies were exposed (which would be to Austria's credit) or because he was fatigued (or both), he showed enough promise in this tournament to keep an eye on him.

Seitz: A-
Seitz would deserve a solid "A" were it not for Rongen's regrettable decision to start him in the Austria match. Clearly still hurt, Seitz struggled on the wet FieldTurf and made a meal of Austria's first goal. Still, for a keeper at this age level Seitz looks very good. That the U.S. was able to get results against Korea and Brazil was due solely to Seitz's work in goal. Couple that with very solid distribution (until his injury) and you have a player who will contend for the senior team in a few years.

Sarkodie: B
Filling in for Valentin, Sarkodie looked solid, using his speed to his advantage. While not nearly as composed on the ball or as tactically sound as Sturgis, Sarkodie also didn't look out of his element. Why Rongen replaced him in the Austria game remains a mystery to me.

Perk: B
Perk had even bigger shoes to fill when asked to replace Seitz against Uruguay. While his distribution was not nearly as good, he looked composed through most of the game and helped limit Uruguay to only one goal. It seems quite clear though that Rongen had little confidence in him, replacing him for the Austria game with a still-injured Seitz.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Home Field Advantage in MLS (and Goals Scored Home vs Away)

EDIT 7/17/08: Edited to include full 2007 stats.

In the nearly 2,000 MLS games over the past 11.5 seasons, playing at home has certainly been important (like in any sport). But just how important has it been? That's what I've attempted to find out, and in this update of a similar post from last year, I'll provide the numbers. This is not an examination of what causes home field advantage, but rather exactly what that advantage has resulted in on the field.

Throughout MLS history, the average PPG by every team in every game is 1.385. That's the basic equivalent of a .500 team (I find that it's much easier to use PPG rather than winning percentages in soccer). Actually, it's probably a little less due to the lower number of draws in the early years and also thanks to overtime from 2000-3. It's about 1.36 over the last four years.

So that's average of every team in every game, 1.385. That means there's an average of 2.77 points taken from any one game, which is less than 3.00 because of draws. The table below breaks that down into home points vs away points, and then the final column on the right is the difference between the two, aka home field advantage.

The all time home field advantage in MLS is 0.67 PPG. In other words, that translates to 20 points over a 30 game season. In general, the HFA seems to have been higher in seasons with more parity, which is understandable. Just look at how it dipped in 2005, when there were two absolutely awful teams and two really good ones. I guess I'll need to figure out the variance (or whatever) for each season and compare it to HFA in the future.

Performance of Home Teams in MLS

Year Games W L D Home Away Diff
1996 160 84 42 34 1.79 1.00 0.79
1997 160 81 46 33 1.73 1.07 0.66
1998 192 101 58 33 1.75 1.08 0.67
1999 192 80 55 57 1.55 1.16 0.39
2000 192 105 53 34 1.82 1.01 0.81
2001 158 83 47 28 1.75 1.07 0.68
2002 140 77 41 22 1.81 1.04 0.77
2003 150 71 38 41 1.69 1.03 0.66
2004 150 72 32 46 1.75 0.95 0.80
2005 192 92 56 44 1.67 1.10 0.56
2006 192 92 44 56 1.73 0.98 0.75
2007 195 91
1.66 1.09 0.57

Total 2073
1.72 1.05 0.67

If you want to look at it another way, home teams get 62.2% of the points. I suppose that this actually a better way to look at home field advantage, since it takes out the affect that the number of draws has on PPG. To clarify, what I mean is that the total number of PPG will be different each year (i.e. 2.75 this year, 2.71 last year).

Home Point Percentage

Year Home PCT
1996 64.1%
1997 61.7%
1998 61.9%
1999 57.2%
2000 64.4%
2001 62.1%
2002 63.6%
2003 62.1%
2004 64.9%
2005 60.2%
2006 63.8%
2007 60.4%

Total 62.1%

I've gone a little further this year and taken a look at exactly how many goals are scored both home and away. On average throughout league history, the home/away breakdown is 1.75 vs 1.28, for a 0.46 goals per game difference.

Goals Scored by Home Teams vs Away Teams

1996 160 539 3.37 321 218 2.01 1.36 0.64
1997 160 522 3.26 302 220 1.89 1.38 0.51
1998 192 685 3.57 391 294 2.04 1.53 0.51
1999 192 549 2.86 305 244 1.59 1.27 0.32
2000 192 612 3.19 351 261 1.83 1.36 0.47
2001 158 519 3.28 297 222 1.88 1.41 0.47
2002 140 421 3.01 246 175 1.76 1.25 0.51
2003 150 433 2.89 248 185 1.65 1.23 0.42
2004 150 392 2.61 234 158 1.56 1.05 0.51
2005 192 551 2.87 306 245 1.59 1.28 0.32
2006 192 503 2.62 293 210 1.53 1.09 0.43
2007 195 518
2.66 297
1.13 0.39

Total 2073
3.01 3591
2653 1.73 1.28 0.45

Let's break this down into percentages too. So basically, a very small change in the percentage of goals from year to year. Not too shocking when you consider this is over anywhere from 140 to 192 games.

Home Goal Percentage

Year Home PCT
1996 59.6%
1997 57.9%
1998 57.1%
1999 55.6%
2000 57.4%
2001 57.2%
2002 58.4%
2003 57.3%
2004 59.7%
2005 55.5%
2006 58.3%
2007 57.3%

Total 57.5%

One last thing, I want to see how the the home point percentages compare to the home goal percentages. Can we gather anything from that? The two are obviously related, but this appears to show that given the percentage of home goals this season, home teams should really be doing better.

Maybe that's due to the number of blowouts? There have been 11 home wins of 3+ goals in 2007, versus only one away win of 3+ goals. A quick check, and I believe last year it was 15/5 (home/away).

Home Point Percentage vs Home Goal Percentage

Year Pts PCT Gol PCT Diff
1996 64.1% 59.6% 4.6%
1997 61.7% 57.9% 3.9%
1998 61.9% 57.1% 4.8%
1999 57.2% 55.6% 1.7%
2000 64.4% 57.4% 7.0%
2001 62.1% 57.2% 4.9%
2002 63.6% 58.4% 5.1%
2003 62.1% 57.3% 4.8%
2004 64.9% 59.7% 5.2%
2005 60.2% 55.5% 4.6%
2006 63.8% 58.3% 5.6%
2007 60.4% 57.3% 3.0%

Total 62.1% 57.5% 4.6%

For comparison purposes, last year in the Premiership in England, the home/away difference was 0.65 PPG. Home teams won 61.8% of total points. The home/away goal difference was 0.46 per game. Home teams scored 59.3% of total goals.

Further reading: