It has been a month since my last analytics primer, so I thought that it would be a good time to write an update. That being said, if you don’t remember what all the stats and acronyms mean, again here is Richard Whittall’s primer again on the fancy stats. The rest of the stats should be fairly simple, saver percentage is how many shots on goal are saved, and conversion percentage is how many shots on goal are scored. Once again I’m going through the team’s underlying statistics and I’m going not only try to see where they point for the future, but I’m also going to look at how they’ve changed since May. Without further ado, the numbers:
Tier 1: The Reigning Leaders
The Reign and FCKC are essentially in a league of their own when it comes to stats AND points. Their TSR aside from Portland is astronomically better then everyone else’s. Which shows that they’re dominating games, and the fact of the matter is right now they are both being rewarded from it.
The news is not great for the rest of the league. Holding down first in the table are the Seattle Reign, we all know that they have not lost this year yet. Their GD is actually the sum of the Flash and Kansas City who respectively sit in 2nd and 3rd.
Looking at their underlying stats, the outlook is primarily the same. Their PDO is virtually the same, 1152, only slightly lower than it in May. The easy answer is that their luck is going to run out. Their scoring conversion rate of 340 is well above the league average of 266. While their save percentage also rests above the league average as well. Historically these numbers will eventually drop to the league average, but who knows when that will be.
You could also say that their luck is of their own making. Their TSR is a full 10% higher than the league average. Their dominating games, taking significantly more shots than their opponents and turning these shots into goals. This is as close to a winning formula as you can get, would I be surprised if the team hits a cold streak or their luck turns? No. But so far this season the Reign’s PDO and TSR have been pretty consistent throughout the season so far.
One interesting stat of note is where the goals are coming from. If I told you that one of the Reign’s new signings scored 11 goals this year, you would assume that it would be Sydney Leroux. The goals though, are coming from Kim Little.
Who last year only scored 3 goals at Arsenal. One thing that the NWSL doesn’t keep track of is penalty goals, vs non-penalty goals so that could be a reason for the bump as Little is their designated penalty taker I believe.
The crazy fun ride for the Reign continues, while luck is seemingly on their side, they’re also doing their best to add to it.
Numbers never lie is one of my least favorite sayings. Stats are important but it is important which numbers you look at. In May FCKC sat in fourth with 12 points and they had also played 2 more games than the rest of the table, their PDO was also the lowest in the league while their TSR was the second highest. If you looked at just points and games played, than the future did not look very bright for them, if you looked at their PDO and TSR things didn’t look as bleak. All of this is my way of saying, numbers by themselves don’t matter, you need as much context as you can to put together a complete picture.
Looking at FCKC’s underlying stats now, they have lost a little of their TSR, but essentially with a .01 difference the number is the same. The biggest difference is their PDO. From a league low, mostly due to an increase in save percentage from Barnhart, it now sits at about league average. That means that while things may fluctuate, FCKC is sitting around where they are supposed to be.
Tier 2: The Manic Middle
Aside from Portland’s TSR high and Washington’s low TSR, nothing really separates these teams from one another greatly. Points wise they’re all within touching distance of each other, meaning that their TSRs and PDOs dictate what mathematically what should happen. But this groups mostly exemplifies that while we can try to predict what should happen, it could very well end up being something entirely different then what does happen.
The stats for Washington aren’t great, they have a low TSR and a decently high PDO. They’re currently sitting in third. The good news for them is that they have games in hand on the rest of the league. But the fact that they have the league’s second highest PDO is not great. While they have a middle of the range save percentage, they lead the league in shot percentage.
This makes sense because while they are getting outshot by their opponents, only having a TSR of .44, the shots they are taking are going in more often. I personally haven’t watched many Spirit games this year but while the number is known to regress, it could be a situation of shot quality. It is definitely something to look closer at.
My gut feeling, especially after last year, is that it is just a hot streak for the team. Granted their numbers have been consistent for the year when I look back to May. While in hockey and other leagues shot quality hasn’t been something that has held up over time, who knows. Maybe Parsons has found the winning formula. Whatever the case may be, the Washington Spirit are a team I’m gonna be watching a lot closer as the year goes on.
4. Chicago Red Stars
The Red Stars are seemingly a story of statistics fulfilling their course. Their ranked 4th in TSR and 4th in PDO. Where are they currently sitting in the table? 4th. Their PDO has fallen slightly but surprisingly the stats haven’t seen a jump in the arrival of national teamer Christen Press. A striker of her quality, the only American to lead a foreign league in scoring, and their conversion rate is precisely the same as before her arrival.
While those that have watched the game have seen how she has influenced the game, be it through individual goal scoring efforts or defense splitting facts. I think its just a matter that she hasn’t been on the team long enough to make a meaningful impact on the team’s stats yet. While their PDO is a little high its nothing to be concerned about. They should be in and around the play-off hunt towards the end of the year.
One day Portland will get their whole team on the field. But the fact is that the league should not write them off, and should be very worried. Their TSR is third best in the league. Along with Seattle and FCKC they are really in a tier of their own in terms of TSR. They sit .07 away from their closest opponent in terms TSR.
From May the team has dropped in the table, this is easily explained. The team went from a very very average PDO of 1014 in May, to a league worse 907. Their conversion rate has remained very low, a league worse, something that you should expect to get better. Their save percentage is second worse in the league and has actually dropped more than 10 percent since May. This should be especially concerning because Angerer, the German goalkeeper and reigning Ballon D’or holder,was a such a big part of their off-season. Excepted to be a big improvement, over Blanc, Angerer has so far been worse, by saving 8% less shots on target than Blanc.
The trend though shouldn’t last. You expect a goalie of Angerer to recover and start keeping out more shots, you expect them to start converting more shots to goals, especially seeing as how they dominate the game. Much like FCKC got hot and made a run up the table, expect the same Portland.
While the numbers may have been spot on for FCKC, they were considerably more murkey when it comes to WNYF. The numbers for the Flash are considerably average. Their TSR is basically the same and their PDO which has dropped a little was really not that high to begin with. They’ve moved one spot up since May, but their underlying stats are the same and not particularly encouraging. When your PDO is the third highest in the league and you are sitting at 6 in the table, things don’t particularly look good.
On a positive note their TSR has improved since May, but is still only good enough for 6th in the league. The thing is though, they have kept themselves in the hunt. Currently as of July 4th, they are only 3 points behind the Spirit who sit in third. Anything can happen, and while luck isn’t exactly on their side, given their recent history you can’t really put it past them to defy the stats and make a late run.
Tier 3: The Bottom
The bottom 3 right now represent a tier unto themselves. Points wise, they are not one game within touching distance of the next tier. Aside from Sky Blue, you really can’t see any of them really making it out of this group and challenging the rest of the league.
7. Sky Blue FC
Last year the team had a very good TSR, they made the play-offs and lost in the first round. This year it seems as if they would be happy just to be in the play-off hunt. The underlying stats for Sky Blue don’t look particularly very encouraging or good. Their TSR has gone from .51 to .49. While this isn’t a dramatic shift it does show that they are starting to lose control of games that they once held, last year they held the league’s 3rd highest TSR.
They have the league’s 3rd lowest PDO, which indicates that things should be turning their way. However last time I posited that their low conversion rate, could be related to a dearth of proven goal scoring ability at the forward position. Their PDO hasn’t really changed since May, so perhaps they can move out of the bottom tier of teams, get hot and make a run at a play-off spot, out of the bottom 3 teams, they’re really the only one that you could foresee a turn around for.
8. Houston Dash
Everything about the Houston Dash is new, except their stadium and broadcasting set up. The team is making the types of strides that you would expect them to be very happy with. Their TSR is up 6% from May. Their conversion rate and PDO have gone up, but some of that seems to be of their own making by now getting control of the game more. Their PDO, now slightly above a league average at 1029, shows that the breaks are going in their direction (mainly when it comes to converting shots to goals), so you can’t really expect much more from the team. That being said their TSR is still very very low and you can’t really expect them to really make a run from here. That being said the signs are encouraging for the team. The fact that their TSR is going up shows that they are starting to have more control of games. While the signs aren’t pointing to a play-off run, they are trending towards improvement. They’re probably going to stay at the bottom or near the bottom but their soccer is improving.
9. Boston Breakers
In May when I looked at the stats, I predicted that hopefully for Boston their luck would turn. The bad news that their luck has turned, but for the worst. Boston’s PDO went from 957 to 921. Their save percentage has dropped slightly and their conversion rate have also slightly dropped as well. Much like with Sky Blue, yes both of these numbers tend to regress to the mean, but you also have to wonder about the talent that is creating these numbers.
The good news is that their numbers are also trending upwards. Their TSR indicates that they’re taking more shots, which means that they are doing the right things. Their PDO should come up, indicating a turn of luck. They’re due to start both stopping more goals AND converting more shots to goals. Both of which would hopefully help them move past Houston. Last time while both Houston and Boston were due some luck, it seems that only Houston’s has really gotten better. Hopefully the same happens for Boston and their TSR slowly climbs up as well.
Sorry again for the wall of text, but something I believe is that numbers themselves, mean nothing and that context is king. Thanks for reading, if you have any questions let me know and feel free to tweet at me @huanandonly. Thanks again and hope you enjoyed!