a good use of soccer analytics
by plaid_pants (2017-01-05 12:11:19)
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I found the attached link today on twitter and r/mls. It shows a plot of the ratio of all USMNT pool players in the MLS with their ratio of passes that result in a shot KPp96 over passes that result in an expected goal xAP96.

Expected goals are calculated by the location of where the shot is taken...for instance, a shot inside the goal box has about a 30% chance of scoring league average whereas a shot from just outside the penalty area has a 5% chance of scoring league average. In short, a high expected goals figure comes from successful passes into more dangerous zones closer to the goal box.

The blue diagonal line would be the exact league average. People above the line make passes that lead to more shots than average. People below the line make passes that lead to more expected goals than average (ie high leverage passes). People farther to the right create more chances than people farther to the left.

Some interesting observations:
1. Darlington Nagbe is the exact center of the plot...the definition of league average.
2. Bedoya creates the fewest chances of any midfielder by a large amount
3. Kljestan had one hell of a year and is the MLS version of Messi in the USMNT pool
4. Most players we see as USMNT regulars are above the line...they make passes that lead to more shots but fewer expected goals
5. Another commenter pointed out that Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen start for the same team, create more chances than any MLS player not named Kljestan, yet fall equidistant on opposite sides of the line...Nguyen creates more shots, but Rowe creates more dangerous shots.

My own impression is that the plot seems to indicate the center of gravity of a team. People above the line are the designated playmakers for their team and are expected to create the shots. Its almost as if by receiving the pass from the playmaker, the expectation is that you should shoot. People below the line benefit from the center of gravity sucking away defenders allowing them space to create more meaningful opportunities.

For instance, I was very impressed by Zardes and Lletget for LA Galaxy the past two season whereas most people seem to think they are fringe players. These guys are clearly benefiting from defenses having to deal with Keane and Dos Santos.

At the very least, the chart indicates that Bedoya does just about as much offensively as Beckerman and his place should be questioned or at least repurposed to DR. Word is Arena is going to try Zusi as DR. In general, I think this is a good idea as wide midfielders get older they should get moved backwards down the formation.



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