MLS Prospects in the NCAA Quarterfinals
Check out my piece over at American Soccer Analysis previewing this weekend's NCAA quarterfinals. Read up on which players from the last eight teams might be seen on MLS rosters next season!
MLS Prospects in the NCAA Quarterfinals
In the immediate aftermath of the USMNT's 1-1 draw at the Azteca, much was made of Bruce Arena's iteration of the three back system and how it compared to Jurgen Klinsmann's unsuccessful version from November. Working in video analysis, and being much more of the visual type, I decided to process the match from a different point of view. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a video breakdown of the Americans' third-ever WCQ point at the Azteca.
The defensive shape of a 5-4-1 limited Mexico to just one shot on target (the goal) - which came from a quick counter. From the run of play, Mexico were limited mostly to speculative efforts and an increasing number of crosses as the match went on. With three center backs averaging 6'3", this played into the Yanks' strength in the air and resulted in a meager 0.8 expected goals against, despite Mexico holding nearly 74% possession.
In the attack, the 5-4-1 sprung into a 3-4-3 shape, with the wing backs getting involved and the Pulisic/Arriola combination looking to play between Mexico's lines. Kellyn Acosta's ability to step forward into these spaces at times - often spurred by Cameron stepping into the midfield - also opened space for Michael Bradley to do some Michael Bradley things. Though these opportunities were limited by a lack of possession, they proved enough to bring home the result.
It will be very interesting to see if this system makes a return in the upcoming Gold Cup and the final few World Cup Qualifiers. Perhaps it will depend on the opposition and which system will be most effective against a particular foe. If nothing else, it may prove to be a very useful tool for Coach Arena to have in his back pocket after its successful cameo on the biggest of CONCACAF stages.
Analysis tool - ChyronHego Coach Paint
After some golazos to close out the combine on Thursday, the SuperDraft is finally upon us. Hopefully by now you've checked out my collaboration with Aaron Nielsen over at American Soccer Analysis. I hope you found it enlightening in some way - perhaps you learned something about college players who you had not seen previously. Maybe our profiles served as companion reading for your viewing of the combine matches. I even found myself flipping back through to see if my eyes agreed with the season- and career-long scouting reports on particular players.
The next step was to delve deeper into the ACC dataset for the 2016 season, and to create some visuals in support of the player profiles. The resulting set of player and positional profiles is presented here in two formats - the slideshow of static images gets the point of each profile across. To really make full use of the profiles though, please head to the Tableau dashboard. This will allow you to switch between players, highlight certain data points, and find additional information through hovering, selecting, etc. based on the instructions outlined below. The viz doesn't lend itself to being embedded directly on this page, so follow the link to check it out.
The Home Page
The splash page is fairly self-explanatory. Choose a position group from the dropdown menu, and the player headshots below will update. There are a total of 21 players to choose from, including not only combine players but also several additional ACC seniors - homegrown candidates, names that have been spotted on mock drafts, and a collection of other prospects and potential sleeper picks.
Hover over the headshots to see the player's name, school, and a bigger action photo. Click on the headshot to go to that player's individual profile.
Player Profile Pages
Selecting a player from the home page will bring you to his profile page. All position groups show bars for passes, forward passes, goals, and assists. The bottom two bar graphs change for more position-specific information. The scatterplot on the right side of the page is also position-specific - the metrics and players change based on which group you have selected.
When you first arrive to the page, that player's mark on the scatterplot should be highlighted and labeled with his name. The orange marks represent the draft prospects whose pictures are at the bottom of the page. Hovering over these marks, as well as the bar graphs to the left, will provide additional data on each player.
Changing players is as simple as selecting a position group and clicking a headshot - no need to go back to the home page every time. Selecting a player will also re-highlight him on the scatterplot.
If you prefer the home page, there are two ways to get back there - the back button in the bottom right corner (it's a bit finicky), or the tabs at the top of the page.
I hope you enjoy these interactive visuals and find them useful during the first two rounds of the SuperDraft. Hopefully they will continue to shine during the following rounds on Tuesday, as some of the lesser-hyped guys hear their names called. Feel free to send any questions or feedback my way on Twitter. Happy SuperDraft!
... or use the less fun pictures here:
Welcome! It's been quite a while since I've posted here. The craziness that is the college soccer season is largely to blame - as I've written about previously. With 2016 in the rearview, I've finally had some time to get back to writing.
This week is the MLS Player Combine. I recently teamed up with Aaron Nielsen to create profiles on the participants, the vast majority of which recently finished their careers at the NCAA level. Check out the profiles and write-up over at American Soccer Analysis. As a preview, here's one of the ACC-related charts you'll find in the article, followed by the link:
MLS Combine Player Profile Crash-Course at American Soccer Analysis
Exciting news! The guys over at American Soccer Analysis have invited me to join them as a contributor to their site, and featured this article yesterday. ASA is a great analysis site for all things MLS and US Soccer - check it out and follow them on Twitter @AnalysisEvolved.
My opening post “came in stats up” on the issue of substitutions and season length in college soccer, through a breakdown of passing styles in MLS and the ACC. If you haven’t already read that article, please do – it is an important primer for what you’re about to read. Here’s a brief summary for those of you who choose not to… centered around the chart that got everyone talking:
In a brief follow-up, I found that although college games sometimes feel more hectic in the second half, stats such as interceptions, fouls, and cards do not increase or differ much from MLS games… leading to the idea that maybe college players resort to dumping more long balls as the game progresses. Now that we’re all up to speed, let’s explore that idea using actual numbers.
Proud. A bit bemused at the crowd’s reaction around him. Arms up in the air. Looking for someone to hug.
King Cantona pretty much sums up my reaction to the response I’ve gotten on my first post (minus his trademark imperious attitude). All I can say is wow, and a heartfelt thank you to everyone for the overwhelming reads, feedback, and support the MLS vs. NCAA Passing Styles article received. It certainly got a bit more attention than I expected this early on, to the point that my coworkers have dubbed it a Marcus Rashford-esque debut. Here’s hoping my form doesn’t dip either in subsequent appearances.
Welcome to Coming In Stats Up. Regardless of how you’ve found your way here, thank you for stopping by. My hope in creating this blog is to bring college soccer into the analytics discussion. I will surely wander from that area from time to time and take a look at the broader scope of performance analysis, but (I think) most articles will stem from my experience in the college game. I also hope to add a coach’s perspective to my analysis, having spent six seasons as a college assistant at various levels.
The analytics movement is working its way into college soccer – this level of the game presents a new and different landscape to investigate. It is a different game in many ways (for better or worse), and much has been made of its place in the American soccer development system. Adding insight from this landscape to the overall analytics discourse is my main goal, and any feedback or further discussion is more than welcome.
I look forward to diving into this. Thanks again for your interest – let’s get to it.
College soccer coach turned performance analyst. I watch people kick stuff for a living, and try to help them kick stuff better.