A very cool graphic dissection of soccer tactics

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That digitally devoted horde of badge-wearing techies down at SXSW Interactive has absolutely nothing on the clevers over at Sounder at Heart, a steaming plate of blogging goodness that dotes on soccer and all things Seattle Sounders.

This is a way-cool blog post from today, mostly about the high positions taken up by Sounders forward David Estrada in last week’s CONCACAF Champions League win over Santos. (The sides meet tonight in the return leg; more on that match and relevant links are here.)

The post talks about Estrada, his positioning and body shape as it related to right-sided playmaker Mauro Rosales and striker Fredy Montero. You may not care for digging into the tactical nitty-gritty and Seattle Sounder-ness of it all. I get it. You’ll leave any Sounders sounding off to the rave green set in the land of hot coffee and cool rain.

But even those beyond the Pacific Northwest really should invest a few minutes to take a look, because the absorbing bit here is how they go about dissecting things, the graphic tools in use while sorting these discussions on Sigi Schmid’s deployment of personnel.

Dave Clark and his team of Sounder At Heart bloggers use fancy equipment and fancier, math-y language to look at each players’ position during “events” on the ball, every pass, shot, interception, tackle, etc.  And that’s all based on statistics now being collected by Opta in MLS matches.  Stuff like this … “And if we plot the mean location of those events and call that location the player’s ‘formational position’ we can see where the entire team is playing, on average  … “

It’s not perfect. Runs across the field likely have a skewing effect on wide players’ average starting position, for instance. Still, it’s a hoot to look at, well worth checking out.