Thursday, September 12, 2013

2 a Cer0

In hindsight, that was pretty obvious, huh? Still, I think the US played exactly how they should have (and almost exactly how I drew it up), and I really thought Mexico would come out less toothless and with more fire. A lot of fans and pundits seemed to think the US played poorly during the first 20 minutes, but I really think that was just the storm they knew they were going to have to weather, and Mexico looked just gassed and beaten in the second half, especially after the EJ goal.

Here's a look at Player Ratings for both sides. The only real discrepency I see between my numbers and numbers others have thrown out is Reyes, who Mexico fans seem happy to lay the blame for the goals on, but who, statistically speaking, had a really solid game.

Perhaps Donovan was just lucky that EJ found his ball and that he was in the right space at the right time, but he had a typical Donovan v Mexico game and earned Man of the Match from me on this one.

I also iterated the Group Power Rankigns again. Here's the table.

And now, the chart. Mexico dipping fast, Panama on the slight upturn. Still a theoretical gap between the two sides though... Click to embiggen.

Right now, though they're ranked 4th overall in the group on quality using my spreadsheet system, have slipped to dead last on recent performance.

So where does this result leave Mexico? In pretty bad shape, actually. It's now a real stretch for them to hit the auto spot, and they're actually going to need to beat Panama at home. If Panama can do what other teams have done at Azteca and play smart, staying compact defensively and smart going forward, Mexico could be in serious trouble. Missing the World Cup would be devasting for them. I would love it.

And we'll go out  with this. Classic.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

BS Rankings

Took a minute to see what happened if I averaged all the rankings folks over on BigSoccer are generating (2 Elo rankings and 2 numeric systems in total), and I've got to say, it looks pretty good. Let's just call em BS Rankings. I may try to do this weekly.

Teams ranked first by mean rank, then by median rank if tied, and if still tied, ranked by standard deviation of ranks, lowest to highest. Click to embiggen.

I actually think the combined rankings look better than any of the individual ones. I was impressed. The craziest thing to me is the team tiering. i.e. RSL is clear #1, Seattle is clear #2 , LA and MIFC are interchangable, Colorado, SKC, RBNY and Portland are all interchangable, Dallas, Chicago, San Jose, New England and Philadelphia are all basically interchangable, then there's Houston, then Vancouver, then Columbus and Chivas are interchangable, then Toronto and DC.

Dos a cero o Cinco a cero?

So just some quick musings here so I can get everything on paper prior to the match, in order to maintain what little credibility I have (which is 0, I believe...).

First off, I did just iterate the "Power Rankings" for the Hex I've got. Here's how the table looks.

Costa Rica

Interestingly, you'll note Costa Rica and the US are tied, while Mexico and Honduras are tied. At this point I don't think there's much question that the US and Costa Rica should hit the auto-qualify spots, the only question may be in what order do they do it.

The bigger race, of course, will be Honduras and Mexico. I think Mexico has the harder schedule, playing teams #1 and #2 away. Sooooo, if we wanted to make predictions, I'd go out and say that Costa Rica, the US, and Honduras auto-advance and Mexico wins up in the #4 spot playing (and probably beating) New Zealand.

The bigger pill, of course, is the falling of Mexico. Now, is a weak Mexico good for CONCACAF? Objectively, I'd argue no, we want a Federation full of strong teams and with 4 slots to potentially fill, I think Mexico has a much better chance of beating New Zealand than either Panamda or Jamaica. But as a USMNT? Let Mexico crash and burn. That's what a rivarly is.

He's a chart illustrating performance over the last 7 matches. Actually goes back a little further than that, including qualifying in past rounds and Gold Cup performances. Basically, this is rankings over the last 9 "ranking periods", covering a total of 13 games played.

And now the fun stuff. Tonight I think I want to see the US play tight, compact, and defensive. We don't need a win here, and with injuries and suspensions I don't want to see us playing risky. We'll be in our own house and should be able to dictate the game somewhat. Mexico is the one who needs to come in and get a result. I'm always weary of teams who recently fire their coaches, as they seem to have a great first "prove yourself" match afterwards (see Columbus v Houston for a great recent example).
Mexico is a dangerous team and their lack of results I think has been more teams coming and taking a cuatious approach at Azteca rather then actual poor performance. The US was hammered while away in Mexico and, honestly, a bit lucky to escape with a point. Turn that draw into a Mexico win and I bet the Hex looks a whole lot different today. 10 games isn't a lot.
So, yes, I'm advocating we get back to "Bruce-ball" or "Bradley-ba;;", stay tight and compact in the middle, keep numbers behind the ball, and pick moments for a fast counter against a Mexico team that's really going to need to come in and play open. Heat could be a factor as well. A second half couner running at tired Mexican legs could well be the winner.
My prediction?
A gritty 1-1 draw, which will almost be enough to get the US auto-in.
Isntant-Classico? I doubt it. But these games are always fun.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Numbers shaking out well this week, with the possible exception of New York. Impossible team to figure out, seems like they're playing well and then lose to Columbus, draw with Philly, lose to Chivas, then bounce right back with some wins. Still sandwhiched between New England and Chicago, but those two teams are trending down and NY is, once more, on the rise, so who knows what'll happen against Toronto next week. Kansas City back to winning ways, Colorado stops their slide and Seattle and Montreal jumping up the table. Click to embiggen.

Get on to the Bus

Man, I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to go to the game this weekend, considering how hot and sticky it would be with a 3 year old in tow, but I'm glad I did. Really good night, good result, and consdering how many guys were out due to International Duty, not to mention Dom tearing it up in the USL Final, I was really pleased to see that team chemistry still appears to be in tact, even when going down to that depth. Our performance and playing style didn't seem to change much, and I Was glad to see the guys really attack and never let up while playing at home.

Got some ratings to dish out, but first, a few snapshots to dump.

And now, numbers. Only critique is Benny's numbers look low, he's played real well since the All-Star break, but like Roger before him, and to a certain extent, Uri, he does the work that doesn't get much notice in the stat sheet. I'm sure he's okay with that.
Columbus Crew Rating
Matt Lampson 4.2
Chad Marshall 4.2
Danny O'Rourke 4.2
Tyson Wahl 4.2
Chad Barson 4.2
Eric Gehrig 4.6
Bernardo Anor 4.6
Tony Tchani 4.2
Will Trapp 4.2
Ethan Finlay 4.6
Dominic Oduro 4.2
Jairo Arrieta 4.6
Justin Meram 4.6
Team Average 4.4
Sporting Kansas City Rating
Jimmy Nielsen 6.1
Ike Opara 6.5
Josh Gardner 6.1
Aurelien Collin 6.5
Seth Sinovic 6.1
Jimmy Medranda 3.9
Oriol Rosell 6.5
Paolo Nagamura 4.6
Benny Feilhaber 4.6
Soony Saad 6.1
Jacob Peterson 3.9
Claudio Bieler 6.8
CJ Sapong 6.5
Teal Bunbury 3.9
Team Average 5.6

Claudio Bieler with man of the match for the PK conversion and the assist. Arguably, benny did the work on the goal, and Soony did the work on the assit, but I thought Caludio had a decent game and was good to see him get back on the score sheet. Hopefully that adds a bit of confidence going into the final stretch.

And... that's all I have to say about that. Power Rankigns coming up in a bit.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Downing the Rapids

Back at it then, I finally sat down and cobbled together some player ratings for the Colorado game. This was the first game my wife and I were able to get to without the kids so it was a blast. We also happened to get free Budweiser beer garden passes which...... is so not worth $20. I mean, sure, endless beer is good, but it's not great beer, and the food selection wasn't exactly awesome. But, still, free is free, and it was kind of our five year anniversary, so, yay!

Managed to grab a few pictures as well, so let's just dump those and then get on with ratings, shall we?

Really good results, we needed all the points at home we can get. One thing that I sort of noticed though was that, while we've gotten good att maintaining possession and passing the ball around from side to side amongst our defenders with midfielders probing somewhat, our forwards seem pretty stagnant at the top of the 18 yard box. I'd like to see them getting more active, with the wide players switching sides with the ball to draw defenders out, or at least make them think a little, and hopefully getting Claudio open to work some magic in the middle. We'll see if that can happen.

Anyway, ratings. Yes. Here we go.

Colorado Radpids Rating
Clint Irwin 4.6
Chris Klute 4.6
Drew Moor 4.1
Nathan Sturgis 4.1
Mavell Wynne 4.1
Dillon Powers 5.1
Hendry Thomas 4.6
Shane Oneil 5.6
Deshorn Brown 4.1
Atiba Harris 4.1
Edson Buddle 6.5
Vincente Sanchez 4.6
Martin Rivero 4.1
Team Average 4.6
Sporting Kansas City Rating
Jimmy Nielsen 5.6
Matt Besler 5.1
Chance Myers 4.6
Aurelien Collin 6.1
Seth Sinovic 4.6
Graham Zusi 7.5
Oriol Rosell 4.6
Paolo Nagamura 4.6
Benny Feilhaber 7.5
Soony Saad 4.6
Dom Dwyer 6.1
Kei Kamara 4.1
CJ Sapong 5.6
Teal Bunbury 4.1
Team Average 5.4

So a bit of a toss up between Zusi's game winner or Benny's awesome blast for Man of the Match. I'm gonna have to go with Benny on this one. He's stepped it up a bit in the second half of the season, and his goal really openeed the game up and forced Colorado to come out. All in all a much better performance from SKC and 3 sorely needed point from home.

We're baaa-aaack

Huh. Long hiatus. There's actually an explanation for that one, and it doesn't involve a new kid. Not really. My work had been languishing on IE7, and I generally try to knock out entries around my lunch break. Google seemed to have updated their Blogger interface and it no longer worked for the Enterprise IE7 I was on, so I kept on posting to Big Soccer, but let this blog languish. I'm gonna try to pick it up again in the near future.

Anyway, like I said, I've been mostly keeping up with Power Rankings. Player ratings, less so. Power Rankings have been crazy though. The league has been so tight and there's been so many twists and turns that the new mashup system I started using has been a little wild. I may have mentioned it before, but I think I'm going to weight recent results less next season, simply because there's so much variability, though on the flip side, a few unpredictable weeks have the league sort of turned around anyway, so who knows?

I did change the format somewhat to a more "explanatory" (is that a word) table, showing the season rank and the rank over the last 5, the average of which is the ultimate rank. I also added a snapshot column, showing their most recent form and a Form column, showing whether they're trending up relative to their current ranking position or down. So here's the table for Week 28. Click to embiggen.

Bottom five teams can all probably be written off at this point of the season and Vancouver needs to turn things around to avoid joining them, but other than that, the league is wide open right now. It's going to be a great finish to the season methinks.