Possession, Passing, and Shooting in MLS in 2016

MLS game stats display

Given the emphasis that Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter places on possession and passing, it probably isn’t a surprise that I’ve started to focus on those statistical categories. Throughout the 2016 season, as troublesome results started to accumulate, I’ve tried to understand the Columbus approach to possession and passing within the context of other teams in MLS.

I’m hardly alone in this, of course – which is one of my¬†motivations in writing this post.

Now that the 2016 MLS league season has concluded, I combed through the stats pages for each game and recorded a series of data points. The resulting dataset has been posted to GitHub.

Each observation is a single team’s performance in a single game – so with 20 teams each playing 34 games, there are 680 rows available. Fields include:

  • Team
  • Opponent
  • Possession %
  • Passes
  • Pass completion %
  • Passes in specific areas of the field (attacking half, final third, and crossses)
  • Pass completion % in those areas
  • Shots
  • Shots on target
  • Goals

Hopefully the work to assemble this data proves useful to someone. I’ve been using this data for many of the plots that I’ve shared on Twitter this season, and now that Columbus is done for the year I’ve been exploring it in more detail.

I hope to be able to share what I’ve found over the coming weeks, but for now I mostly just want to see whether anyone is interested in the data itself.

Get the data in CSV format over on GitHub.

Here are some sample plots that I’ve been working with that are generated by this data. More information will be shared in future posts.

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