Exploring the passing tendencies of Columbus and Portland ahead of MLS Cup

When Columbus and Portland face off this evening in MLS Cup, it will be a clash between two of the better passing teams in the league. Both feature midfields heavy on ball control, with international-caliber players pulling the strings supported by a back line that likes to get forward.

In preparation for this game, I collected player-by-player passing summaries for each game the two teams played, starting from the last time they faced each other in late September. What I found indicates that fans of all stripes could be in for quite a treat.

Continue reading Exploring the passing tendencies of Columbus and Portland ahead of MLS Cup

Experiments in plotting player performance

How do you evaluate soccer players? Is there a way to examine a given player, in the context of his or her team, regardless of their position on the field?

This is an issue that I’ve been somewhat preoccupied with this season, and the question has led me to put together a plot style that attempts to answer those sorts of questions. Continue reading Experiments in plotting player performance

Plotting individual playing time against goal difference

I started working with a new type of impact plot tonight, looking specifically at playing time compared against team goal difference. Dots representing each player are plotted along two axes: the horizontal axis records how much of the season the player has seen, while the vertical axis indicates the team’s goal difference during the player’s time on the field. Continue reading Plotting individual playing time against goal difference

On Wil Trapp and Increased Performance

Wil Trapp has been getting a lot of attention lately for his play with the Columbus Crew. He’s been written up by Tempo-Free Soccer, the official MLS website, the Columbus Dispatch, and TopDrawerSoccer this season. Going back to last season the list also includes Massive Report and US Soccer.

Looking at Trapp’s productivity this season, it is easy to see why. Here is a chart showing the number of passes he completed under each of the Crew’s various head coaches:

Wil Trapp Pass Totals Per Game

Continue reading On Wil Trapp and Increased Performance