Expansion Draft Outcomes

I recently shared on Twitter an updated visualization that summarizes the outcome of all the expansion drafts in MLS history. Particularly now that the league has 20+ years of history, and has more than doubled in size since its inception, it seems worth preserving the history of events like the expansion draft.
Continue reading Expansion Draft Outcomes

Roster Turnover across Major League Soccer, 2013 – 2015

While Toronto and Seattle are preparing to face off in MLS Cup, the rest of the teams in Major League Soccer are turning their attention towards next season. Most immediately, teams are making decisions about which players should return and which should be let go. Continue reading Roster Turnover across Major League Soccer, 2013 – 2015

Players used in World Cup qualifying, 1998 – 2016

Every so often I go back and refresh this chart – one of the first I ever tried – that plots players used in World Cup cycles (both qualifying and tournament finals) by the US men’s national team from 1998 through the present. With the 2018 Hexagonal set to begin next month, this seems like a good time for the latest iteration.

More details after the jump.


Continue reading Players used in World Cup qualifying, 1998 – 2016

Taking it seriously: MLS and the US Open Cup

The US Open Cup Final will be played tonight in Philadelphia. The game, between the hosting Union and Sporting Kansas City, will hopefully be an exciting finale to the 102nd edition of the tournament. This year’s event was the biggest in recent history, with 91 teams entering – including every American team from the three professional divisions.

For devotees of the tournament, the Open Cup is one of the uniquely attractive elements of soccer. In theory, any group of players could enter and see how they match up all comers. The cinderella runs of underdogs like the San Francisco Bay Seals, Cal FC, and the Rochester Rhinos (champions in 1999) are the sorts of plots that Hollywood screenwriters long for.

For all this magic, however, there is a frequent undertone from the top of the soccer pyramid that also gets dragged out every year. Search for the phrase “take the Open Cup seriously” and you will find a litany of articles from recent years, about almost every team in Major League Soccer.

Doth the writers protest too much? Continue reading Taking it seriously: MLS and the US Open Cup

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.

Continue reading Plotting the evolution of playing time

Columbus – Dallas, and the question of lineup stability

 

Columbus Crew SC will play host to FC Dallas this weekend in a game that will be nationally televised on Fox Sports 1. While the game is still several days away, and will feature two clubs in third place in their conferences and fighting for playoff seeding, much of the conversation ahead of the game has instead focused on absences.

Continue reading Columbus – Dallas, and the question of lineup stability

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

Ashtone Morgan, and Columbus players with 100 appearances

Toronto FC made a bit of history earlier this month when defender Ashtone Morgan reached 100 appearances for the Canadian club. This is noteworthy for several reasons, both good and bad. Continue reading Ashtone Morgan, and Columbus players with 100 appearances

Lineup Continuity and Points Per Game

Lineup Continuity compared with Points Per Game in Major League Soccer, through games of May 10, 2015

 

Several years ago, I wrote about the importance of continuity in a team’s lineup over the course of the season. The piece has since been taken down (it will soon be republished on this site), but the thrust of the argument was that the most successful teams in Major League Soccer were able to identify a core group of players who played a significant amount of a given season together. Teams that couldn’t, or didn’t, coalesce around such a core were less likely to be successful.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been re-visiting that thesis using some alternate strategies to see if they continue to hold true.

Continue reading Lineup Continuity and Points Per Game