A plot of how playing time has evolved across the 20 teams in MLS

Plotting the evolution of playing time

In my last post, I introduced a visualization that illustrates how playing time evolves as a season progresses. The feedback for that post was compelling enough that I decided to produce similar plots for every team in Major League Soccer.

In this design, every player to have appeared for the team is represented by a line. The progression of the season reads from left to right. The vertical axis presents the cumulative percentage of minutes played through each game of the season. The following two examples depict┬áthe Columbus Crew’s Wil Trapp and Emanuel Pogatetz:Example plots for Wil Trapp and Emanuel Pogatetz

Both players began the season as starters, but Wil Trapp was forced into an extended layoff due to a concussion. As a result, his cumulative percentage of the season plummeted until he made his return around game 17. Since then, he has returned to his normal role as a regular starter – so his percentage of playing time has increased. Through last weekend, when these plots were generated, Trapp has played just under half the season.

Emanual Pogatetz has developed along a different trajectory – moving from consistent starter to one who missed a game here and there, until he finally lost his spot in the lineup around game 20. At that point, his percentage of playing time began decreasing until its current level, just over half the season to date.

For easy comparison, here is an overview plot of every team across MLS. The plots cover only league games, so players who have only appeared in the US Open Cup or other competitions will not be represented.

A plot of how playing time has evolved across the 20 teams in MLS

Individual plots for every team in Major League Soccer are below.

Chicago Fire

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Columbus Crew

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