When it comes to statistical analysis of soccer these days, we are definitely in a day of chess, not checkers.
I honestly haven’t figured out where to value this higher level math of match analysis. My professional life is about gathering information and filtering it so that it enlightens, so I’m careful not to lead herds into dark valleys of misinformation.
For instance, possession stats are all the rage. But sharp PST colleague Richard Farley recently pulled back the curtain on that one.
All that said, there certainly must be worthwhile applications for the volumes of team, individual and match analysis out there.
Smart people know how to separate the frick from frack. They understand how to pluck the meaty parts, then leave the fatty leavings for lesser carnivores.
MLSSoccer.com’s Andrew Wiebe, for instance, has tonged out some revealing stats about the Colorado Rapids, where new manager Oscar Pareja was added in winter with a mandate to prune the lesser attractive soccer away from Dick Sporting Goods Park.
Remember, previous manager Gary Smith was successful enough, claiming the 2010 MLS Cup title. But his soccer was bottom-line stuff, winning through brute force and blunt tactics. Rapids upper management wanted more, and Pareja was the man adjudged best to deliver.
So has he?
Wiebe has plucked some great stuff in this piece, where the numbers tell the story.
Colorado are the second-best side in MLS at keeping possession this season, holding the ball 54.73 percent of the time, behind only Sporting KC (55.07 percent). That’s a nearly five-percent increase from 2011, when the Smith-led Rapids found themselves in the middle of the MLS pack with a mark of 49.96 percent.
And this …
By [passing through] the midfield, Colorado have also seen the percentage of their total passes in that portion of the field rise from 50.94 to 53.92 percent, while the ratio in the attacking third has stayed roughly the same. That suggests that the midfield is more likely to combine with each other instead of constantly looking up field.