Thursday, April 30, 2009

Most Frequent MLS Matchups

Already this year, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Colorado Rapids have met on three occasions. If it seems like the two teams have played each other an awful lot in the past, there's a good reason. On April 4th, that became the first MLS matchup to have been played 60 times in all competitions. They're now up to 62, but they won't play any each other again. This is actually the first year they won't play 3 or more regular season games against each other.

Sunday's DC vs NY game made that pairing the second to reach the 60 game mark. They too won't be playing in the league more than twice for the first time, which is also the case for DC-NE. Pretty sure those are the only three matchups to have played more than twice every year since 1996, so it's almost like they tried to end those streaks all together this year.

Those three matchups are also the top three most frequent in the regular season with 52 for COL-LA and 51 for the other two. NE-NY will also hit 50 on June 7th.

Top Ten Most Frequent MLS Matchups

(all competitions)

62 COL vs LA
60 DC vs NY
58 DAL vs LA
57 COL vs DAL
57 DC vs NE
56 NE vs NY
54 CLB vs DC
54 CLB vs NE
54 COL vs KC
54 LA vs SJ

Next at 53 are CLB-NY and KC-LA.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Played for 5+ MLS teams

Only includes players who have actually gotten onto the field in a meaningful game. Simply being on the roster doesn't count.

Six players joined the list in 2009, the most of any year.

The 25 Players who have played for 5 MLS Teams

Zak Ibsen 2001-04-07 NE, DAL, CHI, LA, SJ
Pete Marino 2001-04-07 CLB, KC, TB, DC, MIA
Raul Diaz Arce 2001-06-16 DC, NE, SJ, TB, COL
John DeBrito 2001-06-27 NE, NY, KC, CLB, DAL
Andy Williams 2003-04-13 CLB, MIA, NE, NY, CHI, RSL
Manny Lagos 2004-05-08 NY, CHI, TB, SJ, CLB
Ezra Hendrickson 2005-04-02 NY, LA, DAL, DC, CHV, CLB
Brian Kamler 2005-04-02 DC, MIA, NY, NE, RSL
Brian Dunseth 2005-04-16 NE, MIA, CLB, DAL, RSL, LA
Diego Serna 2005-09-24 MIA, NY, NE, LA, COL
Scott Garlick 2006-04-02 DC, TB, COL, DAL, RSL
Chris Henderson 2006-04-02 COL, KC, MIA, CLB, NY
Ante Razov 2006-04-02 LA, CHI, CLB, NY, CHV
John Wolyniec 2006-05-13 NY, CHI, NE, CLB, LA
Ritchie Kotschau 2007-06-02 CHI, TB, COL, CLB, RSL
Kelly Gray 2008-04-12 CHI, SJ, HOU, LA, COL
Eric Denton 2008-04-30 DC, TB, CLB, COL, SJ
Carey Talley 2008-05-24 DC, KC, DAL, RSL, CHV
Jeff Cunningham 2008-08-16 CLB, COL, RSL, TOR, DAL
Tyrone Marshall 2009-03-19 COL, MIA, LA, TOR, SEA
Dema Kovalenko 2009-03-22 CHI, DC, NY, RSL, LA
Tony Sanneh 2009-03-22 DC, CLB, CHI, COL, LA
Cornell Glen
Alecko Eskandarian
Daniel Hernandez

Marino is probably the first player to do it considering that the game was in Miami, whereas Ibsen and SJ played at LA.

DeBrito only played in 80 games for his 5 MLS teams, the lowest among the 22. (EDIT: Glen has played only 62 games). His last stint in MLS consisted of one Open Cup start for Dallas. Marino's the only one close at 108.

And now, the number of the 25 players who have played for each of the 17 current and past MLS teams:

CLB 14
NY 12
NE 9
TB 7
SJ 6
KC 4

New York has used the most players overall, but they don't top the list.

Finally, let's create a separate list for the 6-team guys:

Players who have played for 6 MLS Teams

(also included on the previous list)

Andy Williams 2005-04-02 CLB, MIA, NE, NY, CHI, RSL
Brian Dunseth 2006-03-08 NE, MIA, CLB, DAL, RSL, LA
Ezra Hendrickson 2006-05-06 NY, LA, DAL, DC, CHV, CLB

Williams is obviously the first guy you would think of if I asked you who has played for 6 teams. He joined this list the same day his teammate Kamler joined the 5 team list above. However, Dunseth has actually been on the roster of 7 different teams, including Chivas USA before being traded to the Galaxy.You may not remember him playing for the Galaxy, as his only appearance was as a sub in the 2006 Champions Cup game @ Saprissa.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Updates & Info

1) MLS Alltime Leading Goalscorer Timeline. Pretty easy to update, since Jaime Moreno's still on top. He's closing in on two years with sole possession of the record. Jason Kreis held it for three straight years before him. I never would've thought it when he overtook Kreis, but Moreno really could hold on to it for a while longer. Especially if Taylor Twellman is a non-factor this season due to injury.

2) Biggest One Year PPG Changes. Last year's Columbus Crew were the 9th best improvement, while last year's DC United team had the 7th worst collapse. To beat the leaders in each category (CHV 2006 and TB 2001), this year LA/SJ would have to get 65 points and CLB would have to get only 23.

3) Playoffs, Over .500, and Under .500 Streaks. Revs now in position to have one of the top 5 playoff streaks in American sports at the end of the season.

4) John Ellinger's comments in this 3rd Degree post indicate that the Open Cup rule that I talked about is still in place for this year. The rule is that that you can only have 5 foreigners in your team. Of course, green card holders don't count.

5) MLS is only 70 goals away from the latest milestone, which is 7,000 in regular season play.

6) There are still a handful of unbeaten or winless teams. Counting shootouts as draws, Chicago needs 2 more games to equal its longest unbeaten streak to start a season (1999, 5-0-2) NE needs 7 more games to match their start in the 2005 season (7-0-4). On the other side, LA had that awful 8 game road trip when they were opening the HDC in 2003 (0-4-4). They're currently halfway there. CLB has played 5 games without a win, matching their worst start ever (2004, 0-3-2). The bright side is that team won the Supporters Shield.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Red Card Impact in MLS

There's been a bit of talk the past week about the number of red cards handed out last Saturday, 7 in 7 games. I don't think it's a big deal, since they were all justified. And lest we forget, there were just as many red cards handed out in a single day as recently as June 7th of last year (and there were only 4 games that day). I think it's good to see refs cracking down on dangerous fouls.

Last year there were 59 red cards in 210 games or .281 per game. It was basically the same rate in 2007 as well (.277). The overall rate has ranged from .200 to .318, with an all time average of .262 from 1996-2008. This year it's 11/29 = .379 per game. I bet we'll end up around .3 once again.

By comparison, the EPL this year has had 56 red cards which comes out to an average of .176 per game. Last year it was .161 per game. The multiple match bans could have something to do with those low numbers.

Thinking further on the subject, I wanted to look into the affect on goalscoring in MLS that red cards have had. For starters, I've looked at the 2008 regular season. Here's the results of my analysis.

There were 59 red cards on the season (MLSnet lists 60, but they include Frank Yallop being sent off in SJ's total). Two of those were given to players who were on the bench (C.J. Brown, Tom McManus). A further 11 resulted in a 10 on 10 situation, either as a result of two players on opposite teams being ejected at the same time, or because of multiple players being sent off in a game. So that left 42 red cards which resulted in a team being a man up (one of them 10-9, the rest 11-10), and 4 red cards resulting in a two man advantage.

I then looked at each one to see how many goals were scored and allowed by both teams in the game. The results look like this:

Minutes GF GA
1 Up 980 20 9
2 Up 61 3 1

GF = goals for, GA = goals allowed.

There would be something wrong if teams weren't capitalizing on the advantage. How does that compare to an even strength situation? First, let's look at the total number of goals scored by both teams.

Minutes Goals
even 17859 558 One goal every 32.01 minutes
1 Up 980 29 One goal every 33.79 minutes
2 Up 61 4 One goal every 15.25 minutes

The goal totals do include the few times where a red led directly to a penalty kick.

Obviously there's an issue with the sample size, so let's revisit this when I've looked into all the seasons. On a side note, this sounds like the kind of thing that would've been covered on the old MLSnet "Analyze This" columns. I looked briefly but I didn't see one on red cards.

Anyway, there were 2.81 goals per game last year. That means that the average team scored and allowed about 1.41 goals per game. If you took the GF and GA for those 980 and 61 minutes, how would they translate on a per game basis?

1 Up 1.84 0.83
2 Up 4.43 1.48

What's interesting though, is that it seems like very few of the red cards actually turned around a match. There were only five instances in 2008 of a team going a man down and getting a worse result from the match. Only twice did a team got red carded with a lead and went on to lose the game (NE vs CHI and RSL vs DAL). Two more times games that were level ended up as losses, and once a team lost a lead and ended up with a draw.

On the other hand, on four occasions teams who went down a man got an improved result. Interesting stuff, and I look forward to finding out the results from previous years:

Here's the list of those nine games:

2008 Game Changing Ejections

Red Card Min Men Score Final Score
3-Aug TOR vs DAL Guevara 79 10v11 0-0 0-2
9-Aug NE vs CHI Joseph 74 10v11 1-0 1-2
23-Aug DAL at KC Ricchetti 62 10v11 1-0 1-1
18-Oct DAL at RSL Saragosa 30 10v11 1-0 1-3
25-Oct NE vs KC Badilla 26 10v11 0-0 1-3

19-Apr NE at NY Castro 46 10v11 0-1 1-1
17-May NY vs KC van den Bergh 77 10v11 0-1 1-1
7-Jun DC at CHI Namoff 88 9v10 1-1 2-1
25-Oct CHV vs HOU Kennedy 50 10v11 0-0 1-1

I know 3 reds on here led directly to penalties (Guevara, Badilla, Kennedy).

EDIT 4/20:

Here's some more data from 2002-08:

1 Up 5684 124 66
2 Up 130 4 2


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

MLS Week Four - Notable Stuff

1) Mike Chabala's long nightmare is over. After being drafted in 2006, the Houston Dynamo player finally got into a regular season match. This comes after countless nights sitting on the bench, and several Open Cup, Champions League, and Sugerliga matches. His league debut comes over 1.75 years after his overall debut in 2007, breaking the record previously held by ex-Chicago Fire player Jared Montz. He's the first player to go more than a year between those two debuts.

I've been waiting for this every time the Dynamo took the field this season; he's on the senior roster this season so he's obviously in their plans and it was just a matter of time. But what really made the night special is how after so long, he was sent off less than 15 minutes after taking the field. "Now tragedy, that's funny."

2) Age updates. Gregg Berhalter was the 15th oldest debuting player in league history at 35.69 years. Tristan Bowen also debuted for the Galaxy in the Open Cup and became the 24th youngest player in all competitions (18.18). Meanwhile, Kasey Keller is now up to 8th on the list of the oldest players of all time.

3) Rookies: 16 of them played in their team's opening game this year. This post details the years 2002-07, I haven't gotten around to updating it. Actually, I'm not sure about if a couple of guys were technically rookies so I've ignored it. But anyway, nine rookies starting tied for the most in league history, as well as the total number of 16.

The real interesting thing is that about 2/3rds of past rookie of the year nominees (25/39) and winners (9/13) have played in the opening match. The four winners who didn't? Carlos Bocanegra (5th match), Rodrigo Faria (2nd), Maurice Edu (3rd), and Sean Franklin (2nd). So the odds are if a rookie hasn't debuted yet, he isn't going to win the award. In fact, 32/39 nominees debuted in their team's first three games (including everyone from 2002-08). On the opposite end of the spectrum was Andy Williams, who was nominated despite not playing until the 20th game for the Crew in a 32 game season. He did have the 1998 World Cup to attend to, though.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

OTFATT 2009: Update #1

OTFATT is short for "On the field, all the time." In these updates throughout the season, I'll be keeping track of which MLS players have played every minute of every game (regular season only). That feat has been accomplished 35 times in 13 season by 28 different players. Click here for that list.

We started out with 165 players this year (15 x 11), and four weeks in already we've lost over half. The intriguing thing about this season's "contest" is that goalkeepers are dropping like flies. I don't know if I've ever seen so many hurt in such a short period of time. Already, eight teams have used more than one keeper.

One keeper who's still standing tall is Kevin Hartman. Last year he became the 5th player to play every minute for two consecutive seasons. No one's done it three straight years, so doing it again this year would be a remarkable feat. The other five survivors from last season are still alive as well.

There are three rookies remaining: Darrius Barnes, Omar Gonzalez, and Chris Pontius. Other than them, I would say the most surprising players left are Tim Ward and Josh Tudela.

Remaining Candidates (68)

4 CHI Busch, McBride, Pause, Ward
5 CHV Bornstein, Marsch, Talley, Thomas, Thornton
3 CLB Carroll, Hesmer, O'Rourke
4 COL Clark, Cummings, Harvey, Ihemelu
3 DAL Ferreira, Moor, van den Bergh
5 DC Emilio, Jakovic, Namoff, Pontius, Simms
7 HOU Boswell, Cameron, Clark, Davis, Holden, Mulrooney, Onstad
3 KC Conrad, Hartman, Jewsbury
4 LA Donovan, Franklin, Gonzalez, Tudela
7 NE Barnes, Dube, Heaps, Joseph, Larentowicz, Mansally, Thompson
2 NY Angel, Richards
7 RSL Beckerman, Borchers, Johnson, Movsisyan, Olave, Rimando, Wingert
5 SEA Alonso, Evans, Hurtado, Marshall, Riley
5 SJ Cannon, Convey, Corrales, Garcia, Leitch
4 TOR Brennan, Harmse, Serioux, Wynne


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Little Known US Open Cup Rule

Tonight is the first MLS qualifying match (LA-COL). No, it's not part of the final tournament, so I'll be saving my preview for later. But I wanted to bring your attention to something I found out last year. It was listed in last year's US Open Cup handbook, and I'm assuming that it's still in effect for this year. That would be the rule that a team can only have 5 international players in its gameday 18 for US Open Cup matches.

I'm not sure if any teams would be significantly affected by this rule, but it may help contribute to the decision by teams to rest some players.


Sunday, April 05, 2009

MLS: Pace After 3 Games

Now that the third round of games is over, I want to take a look at how teams have historically done for the year after starting the season a certain way. How do teams who get 9 points through three games compare to those who get none? I've taken a look at all 149 previous MLS seasons to produce this table:

After 3 Games Played

Times PPG 2009 Teams
9 pts 4 1.49 CHV, SEA
7 pts 19 1.63 CHI, NE
6 pts 23 1.42 COL
5 pts 10 1.41 DC
4 pts 35 1.38 TOR
3 pts 24 1.35 KC, SJ
2 pts 13 1.30 CLB
1 pt 13 1.14 HOU, NY
0 pts 8 1.27 DAL

The PPG refers to how the teams ended the season. RSL and LA have yet to play three games.


Friday, April 03, 2009

Voros' 2010 World Cup Qualification Odds

Voros has posted odds for every team on his web site (along with an analysis), which are based on his national team rankings. He's had a pretty decent track record with these things; I believe his 2006 World Cup simulations had France as the top team and his EURO 2008 simulations had Spain second.

It's great stuff, because he's taking into account the strengths of the team which is hard to quantify. I love to see people put together simulations like that, but I wanted to see how the teams broke down by group rather than just in a big list like he has it. So I've done that here:


Cameroon 32.73%
Gabon 26.25%
Morocco 24.20%
Togo 16.82%

Tunisia 51.97%
Nigeria 44.34%
Mozambique 2.60%
Kenya 1.09%

Egypt 56.38%
Zambia 23.29%
Algeria 15.72%
Rwanda 4.61%

Ghana 72.35%
Mali 23.33%
Benin 3.17%
Sudan 1.15%

Côte d'Ivoire 89.06%
Burkina Faso 5.44%
Guinea 5.27%
Malawi 0.23%


Australia 99.98%
Japan 99.94%
Bahrain 18.98%
Uzbekistan 7.81%
Qatar 0.12%

Korea Republic 98.37%
Saudi Arabia 66.16%
Iran 44.78%
Korea DPR 43.20%
UAE out

New Zealand 20.66%


Denmark 84.38%
Sweden 45.81%
Portugal 15.51%
Hungary 6.80%
Albania 0.00%
Malta out

Greece 78.36%
Switzerland 59.58%
Israel 10.73%
Latvia 0.16%
Luxembourg 0.00%
Moldova 0.00%

Slovakia 69.14%
Czech Republic 37.08%
Poland 22.62%
Slovenia 6.75%
Northern Ireland 5.49%
San Marino out

Germany 96.31%
Russia 50.87%
Finland 5.96%
Wales 0.04%
Azerbaijan 0.00%
Liechtenstein 0.00%

Spain 99.99%
Bosnia-Herzegovina 18.11%
Turkey 15.47%
Belgium 0.08%
Armenia 0.00%
Estonia 0.00%

England 98.89%
Croatia 33.64%
Ukraine 22.47%
Belarus 1.19%
Andorra 0.00%
Kazakhstan 0.00%

France 84.19%
Serbia 71.04%
Lithuania 1.37%
Austria 1.03%
Romania 0.63%
Faroe Islands 0.00%

Italy 95.00%
Ireland Republic 29.75%
Bulgaria 18.50%
Montenegro 0.37%
Cyprus 0.02%
Georgia 0.00%

Netherlands 99.89%
Scotland 12.68%
Norway 0.10%
Iceland 0.00%
Macedonia FYR 0.00%

North America

USA 96.86%
Mexico 93.99%
Costa Rica 71.59%
Honduras 66.42%
Trinidad & Tobago 2.20%
El Salvador 1.13%

South America

Brazil 99.87%
Paraguay 99.16%
Argentina 94.64%
Chile 79.85%
Uruguay 72.30%
Colombia 12.96%
Ecuador 6.32%
Venezuela 1.74%
Bolivia 0.97%
Peru 0.00%