Thursday, April 25, 2013

7,000 Words

So the other night I went through an old BigSoccer image thread and pulled out some of my favorites, to make sure they didn't get swallowed up by the internet and expire. Here's a sampling of some of my favorites, in no real order.

Brek Shea, Alex Morgan, and a horse.

Clint Mathias loves doritoes

Danny Szetela can't wait to play for his new team

Barra Brva in the rain (this one is so full of awesome)

Self explanatory

Mo Johnston in the 2000 MLS cup

Sigi trolls us all

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Where my boats at?

One more iteration in the books. Not a whole lot to say really. Midweek games throw a small little wrench into the system so Kansas City maybe "dinged" a bit more than they should after the cross country road trip while NY gets a bit of a bonus bump despite the midweek loss, but the rankings actually look pretty good to me. Chicago and Seattle almost out of the basement and DC and New England in need of some results, and quick. LA a bit vindicated in maintaining the top spot.

The numbers.

The handy dandy chart.

And the flavor of the week. A little surprised to see Chivas still so high, actually, but they'll likely drop next week.

Lalala can't hear you etc.

Well that was a bit of a disappoing match. Quick thoughts would be that they need to figure out their shoe situation, as people were sliding all over the place, and I thought Donovan looked really, really good. Also made me wonder if PV going for the win was the right call. I expected bunker and counter from us with a lot of absorbing pressure, but it almost seemed the other way around. 3 points from a game-on-each-coast-back-to-back road trip is still good, but 4 would have been... well, one better.

Still, can't complain too much, LA is a very good team and can be tough to beat at home. Here's player ratings for the match.

Man of the match to Donovan for a great performance. He just may be back.

Tip of the hat to Matt Besler, SKC's best performer on the night.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Oh Brooklyn, Brooklyn, Take Me In.

Well that was kind of a fun game.

So this was my fourth road trip match with Kansas City, the first being to Columbus in 2007, then Portland and te first match in New York last year, and now New York again. New York last year was the first match I'd seen a win on, so I wasn't all that confident I'd go 2/2 in NY, but we all know how that went...

But some background.

I had to go to New Jersey for work and it turned out I was gonna have to be out there Monday-Wednesday and fly back Thursday out of Newark. Soooo, perfect timing, right?

Got to the airport early Monday afternoon and guess who's on my flight?

So that was kind of cool. I didn't really say anything to anyone as I figure they're basically commuting to work anyway, but I wondered what would have happened if I wore my SKC jersey and just sort of hung around and mingled with them...

They seemed to be pretty normal guys. Most of them were sleeping. A few playing cards.Besler was on an ipad watching what seemed to be the NY-Dc games. I sat across from Uri who seemed to be doing some homework. All in all very normal, and a very quiet flight.

So two days of work and then the drive to Red Bull Arena. Traffic was decent, beautiful day, and we got there early enough that we got to meet up with some other traveling/transplant folks and do some pregame beers at ODonnel's, which is a neat little pub not too far from the stadium and I guess the unofficially official away supporters bar, since we've been asked not to mingle with NY supporters in other bars. Got my first Facebook "like" from Jimmy Nielsen as well. Dorkishly excited about that.

Walked in to the stadium around 6:45. Were originally told to go to Gate C, but then were told that due to the low attendance they weren't opening Gate C and we had to go to Gate B, which wasn't too bad, but doesn't bode well for NYs attendance problems...

Stadium was incredibly empty. I know filling it up on a midweek game is tough in New York, but even still, I'd think in an area so populated they'd at least get 15k in there. But around 7:15 during player warmups it was all but empty...

After warmups for player introductions, they do this thing in New York I guess where they only announce a players first name and the fans are supposed to call back the players last name, but with only a few thousand fans (at most) there before kick off it was actually a little sad. I imagine it would be cool with a lot of fans present, but when the stadium is empty, just hearing players first names is really weird sounding. "Introducing your 2013 New York Red Bulls!" "Eric." "Brandon." "Tim." "Dax." "Marus." "THIERRY!!Y#@!!!"

Yeah. It was like that.

Banners went up and people took their seats. I think there were about 80 folks there. Many sat with the cauldron but a lot choose to sit below us in the section as well, which is fine, I guess, but it would have been cool to have had the biggest block as we could.

New York fans put up a good banner for Boston as well. I'm always a little cynical when it comes to using sporting events as remembrence for tradgedies, but it was cool to see non-the-less.

We got a LOT of security folks. We're badass, I guess. Dunno if it was related to Boston or what recently happened with San Jose and Portland fans or what. Maybe a combination. They were cool security guys though. I wound up talking to one for a little bit, apaprently his grandfather was a foudning member of Sporting Lisbon? Either way, good to banter with em, and they were cool.

 So that was basically the calm before the battle. Then. The battle.

Game started pretty well. SKC looked good in possession and tight defensively. Offense seemed to be more geared twoards short passes and linking through the middle while New York was dumping long balls over the top to Henry, which our defenders were doing well enough to cope with. Ref was letting players get physical, which I personally like but I know fans on both sides of the aisle had issues with (but what else is new.

Just like last year, Kansas City got ahead on a header (pun not intended) early on, which really put them in good position. With a defense like ours, an early road goal is huge. I was doubly happy about it  because I had Collin captaining my fantasy team this week.
And, honestly, I don't know that I have a whole lot more to say about it. Both teams played pretty well, and while I think we were a little lucky to get a point, CJ missed a few chances as well.One thing that's been discussed a bit was the time wasting and diving, and I think there were two obvious cases where Kansas City was clearly milking it. I don't remember who the first one was, but there was a definite dive during the run of play, and I feel like maybe one in the penalty box as well, and then, of course, Jimmy's Serie A-esque performance to get Juninho red carded. Now I do think the ejection was fully warranted and Jimmy didn't need to do what he did, but I can see why he did it. In my mind the proper response would have been to go to ground and then gotten up on one knee and glared at him, maybe get angry. But, card given and with that, New York was basically sunk.

In regards to Jimmy and time wasting, I will note that Jimmy was, in fact, issued a caution for time wasting, so it didn't go unnoticed by the ref. It seems a lot of NY fans were missing that.

So final whistle blows, security holds us for about 10 minutes after, and we depart, three points richer. Getting out wasn't too terrible, though finding our route back to the hotel by the Newark airport was damn near impossible. We did five uturns just to travel about two miles. It was insane.

Got to sleep in just a little bit before getting to the airport but was back on a flight around noon. I ran into another guy with an SKC track jacket and we wound up talking a bit. Turns out he was a trainer with the team who had been traveling with them since 1997. He said that normally Peter Vermes is pretty calm after games, win or lose, but he was really pumped up and congratulatory about this one, and I can sort of understand why. This is probably the hardest two game road stand we'll do this season, facing two good teams in hard to play places (though Red Bull Area is almost becoming a second home to us lately), so 3 points out of six is already a good start.

I did crank out some player ratings for this one as well. Some one mentioned that this might have been Collin's best game in an SKC jersey (maybe his best game ever?) and at first I thought it was hyperbole, but after thinking about it, it's kind of hard to argue. There's already a lot of nerves that Zusi and perhaps Besler will be gone sooner rather than later, and I can't help but wonder if Collin is on anyones rdar as well. My only thought would be his style fits in really well in MLS and Kansas City, especially with the cerebral play of Besler to partner with. Would it work in other leagues with other teams? Who knows... but I will say this. Collin played his balls off (almost literally) and I do think that maybe that was the best game I'd ever seen out of him. He was definitely the man of the match for me. Plus, 30 fantasy points almost single handedly carried my team this week. We'll see how he does in LA.

But, yes. Player ratings. Here we go.

Annnnnd with that, I've decided I need to get to Red Bull Arena more often. Two wins in two visits. I do think it's a great stadium and the location honestly isn't too bad, lots of stuff in the surrounding neighborhood and easily accessible by rail, but I know if you live in Queens or on Long Island and with traffic in Manhattan it can be truly hard to get to the stadium, especially midweek. Still, it's a shame it's been so cavernous when I've been there. Which shouldn't be confused as me wishing good thigns upon the New York team... they can all take a swim in the hudson and get water poisoning for all I care...

Collin. Man of the match. Awesome.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Deluxe Apartment

A fair amount of mvoement this week in the rankings, though no one making major jumps. This is probably a good thing. Now that we've hit the "magic" five game mark I expect to see this sort of thing. Teams gliding up or down based on results and things starting to shake out. LA still at the #1 spot soley on the fact that they started the season so well, but if you check the chart yo ucan see they've been trending down hard.

Some how Chicago lost and still managed to gain points... essentially the system now sees a one goal loss for them as a positive, I guess (combined with some poor results for other basement dwelling teams). I think that's both funny and a little sad...

Anyway, here's how the table looks today.

Here's the graph. Note LA's trend if keeping them at #1 makes you uncomfortable.

And of course now that we're into the season enough, we can figure out a new flavor of the week. And no real surprise here, Dallas has been on a roll.

So there you have it, LA still on top, but just barely... will we have a new champion next week? Only one way to find out.

I'm flying to New York for work this afternoon and will be lucky enough to be in town for the SKC game, so I may not get around to updating this until the following week. Apologies in advance. Until then : courage.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Yeah, so I nearly lost everything on my laptop this week... fun stuff. Overnight data recovry worked though and now I've got everything backed up. I actually had it all backed up on my Google Drive accoun anyway (I love you Google Fiber), but was still a scary moment...

Anyway, enough about me, let's look at some numbers. A bit of movement this week. Unfortunatly LA and Seattle both have lagged a game or two behind eveyrone so their ratings still aren't the best, along with New England, but everything else is starting to take shape. Vancouver doing some downward movement and Chivas keeps climbing, along with Portland and Kansas City. LA at the number one spot but slipping a little bit. Still, as the only undefeated team, the math makes their rating look quite good. I imagine that'll settle down in the coming weeks. Montreal not quite out of their spot yet and Houston takes a bit of a hit as well. Chicago not quite doing enough to get out of the basement, though they'll likely jump Seattle next week unless something interesting happens. And what's up with New York?

Speaking of New York, I'll be traveling to the game next week in Harrison. Should be fun, last year was the first time I'd seen SKC win on the road.

Anyway, here's the table.

And now the graph, which is still a little hard to get a handle on, mostly due to LA. Still a log plot as well... Click to bigify.

And now we've got enough games to start doing a Flavor of the Week analysis. This is done in a similar way to the season long power rankigns except it only looks at the last five games. In that way it's more of a snap shot of how teams are performing at this instant and is more variable than the other rankings. Since it's early in the season this only impacts teams that have played six games. Essentially, it's ignoring the first game for those teams, so it's a little different than the season long rankings. It'll get more divergent as the season goes on.

Annnnd... that's all Ihave to say about that.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Tis a funny game

You know, this was the second home game this year that was really far from enjoyable, except this time we actually got a good result from it. It's an odd game like that. One goal can totally skew one's perspective. I imagine had DC held us to a 0-0 draw their fans would be thrilled. A few seconds of lapse and it's time for Ben Olsen's head.

I'm not saying any veiw is right or wrong. I'm just saying.

I'm also saying this is one time when I actually disagree more than usual with my ratings system. I thought Aurelien Collin had a pretty poor game, both defensively and in distribution, but aparantly the people over at the MLS Fantasy game disagree, because he apparently had some excellent defensive work with no mistakes...

Any way, here's the player ratings. Soony may seem low but it's important to remember that playing time actually is a facotr, so notching an above average rating while only playing seven minutes is pretty exceptional.

You can see SKC had the edge in overall average rating, and I think that showed. Unlike Chicago, DC actually seemed to come to play, and a little more quality from Pajoy could have made it a very different game. How bout that Beiler though, huh? Acquisition of the season at this point, surely...

But, yeah, Collin with Man of the Match. Not sure I'd give it to him objectively, but who am I to argue with numbers?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ranking the Hex

So I tried doing this for the Euro teams last year, and it worked pretty well. At least, it was no worse than what most folks were putting out for the teams, and did a good job of calling out the Dutch team prior to their collapse, so I thought I'd try it again.

What I tried to do is use results from the Group Stage and now the Hex to rate teams in the same way I do for MLS games and see what comes out. I think it's actually done a pretty good job of establishing how each team has been performing and maybe some inkling on how teams are trending.

Here are the raw numbers as they stand today.

Now I know you may be thinking that, with Mexico's struggles, they should perhaps be lower. The thing to remember is this is looking at five game form and goes back to the First six games played prior to the Hex, where Mexico tore it up. You can probably see their recent poor form better if I graphed up ratings for the first five rating points.

You can clearly see Mexico's struggles sinec the Hex began, and how the group has atually goten pretty tight as of the last set of matches. Do we want to try to predict results for the next set of games? Sure, why not.

Mexico beats Jamaica in Jamaica
Honduras beats Costa Rica in Costa Rica
The USA beats Jamaica in Jamaica
Mexico beats Panama in Panama.

I dunno. They'll probably all be draws. Don't blame me, I just work here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Corny March Joke.

I don't really want to think of any clever "marching" puns, or April Fool's Day jokes, but I did want to take a minute and break down the first five games and toss out a player of the month nod. If you've been paying any attention it should be pretty obvious who it is for Kansas City, but let's look anyway.

Here're the numbers.

So, despite the good effort that the defense has turned in the last three games, Zusi dominates the stats with two goals an assist and some great attacking and defensive play. All that while missing a week with the USMNT getting results in Denver and Mexico. He's had a helluva a month. If you see him out somewhere, buy him a beer or three. The man has definitely earned it.

Benny and the nets

I'll say it. That was probably the best performance I've seen a Kansas City team turn in in years. End to end, total domination. The 2-0 score line was generous and the only thing I have to say negatively about a player is Biler should have had a hat trick. But that's the Kansas City team I think we all wanted to see and Montreal was utterly swarmed and devoured. And in the player ratings this week, it actually shows.

Here's how everyone fared.

Much love for Zusi and Besler, but Benny had a monster of a game, unlocking Montreal with some great through balls and playing lights out against everyone. I think a lot of people had been skeptical of him, myself included, but if he keeps playing like that the rest of the season, he may see a lot more time with the USMNT in qualifying. I'd love to see it. What I'm not loving seeing is that moustache... eek.

Edit - and now, for some match day photos. I really need a better camera...

Goat Parade

So how bout them Chivasesessss huh? Pretty crazy stuff. I think, so far, they've got to be the surprise performance of the season, more so even than the poor start for San Jose. I love it.

Anyway, we've just about achieved normalacy as far as getting everyone to five games goes. Anything you still can't cope with is your own problem.. Next week things should start to look normal.

LA ties and brings them down to earths somewhat. LA has actually been riding that first game four goal pasting to keep their #1 spot, so once that drops off they should start to settle down, unless they manage to do it again... Will they be better with Donovan? Who knows. Chicago hasn't budged from the cellar. Kansas City some how manages to put in a dominant performance and drop a spot (it makes sense mathamatically, just trust me) and Vancouver is starting to drop off after a hot start. Here's the full table.

I think we're just about at the point in the season where we can start making some general statements about teams. I generally think that 5 games is a trend and 10 games is a good enough sample to give you a good idea of what a team is capable of performance wise.

Oh, right, I owe you a graph too, don't I? Here it is.