Power Rankings! - Unified Field Theory produces cold fusion

Warning: this post is a long way to go pretty much nowhere. There are SOME interesting stats out there, but if this isn't your cup of tea, then neither milk nor lemon is going to help. Next week, I'll go back to rating teams based on alphabetical order or something.

So last week I beat the dead horse of the Kooiman Theory. This week, I turn the guns onto myself, and [SPOILER ALERT!] - I lose.

I'm still convinced that shots faced is a crucial, crucial statistic to understand what's happening to your defense on the field. Problem is, well, this is what happens when you take that statistic in isolation to rate teams:

SHOTS FACED
1. Colorado Rapids: 223
2. Houston Dynamo: 228
3. Chivas USA: 235
4. New York Red Bulls: 258
5. Real Salt Lake: 264
6. Chicago Fire: 268
7. D.C. United: 270
8. San Jose Earthquakes: 282
9. FC Dallas: 286
10. Toronto FC: 292
11. New England Revolution: 296
12. Columbus Crew: 304
13. Kansas City Wizards: 308
14. Los Angeles Galaxy: 315

Welp, there goes my MacArthur Genius Grant. Shots faced explains why the Galaxy are awful, to a slightly different extent why Tronno and KC are awful, but even the most resolute data-mining won't get Columbus and New England out of the way.

Hm. Maybe the differential between shots taken and shots faced?

Nope:

1. Royals: +98
2. Dynamo: +72
3. Rapids: +70
4. Younglings USA: +30
5. Dallas: +15
6. Red Bulls: +8
7. Crew: -4
8. DC United: -7
9. Chicago: -13
10. Wizards: -39
11. Revolution: -40
12. Quakes: -41
13. Galaxy: -45
14. Tron FC: -63

This stupid, stupid league. If you take more shots than the other guy, you should be scoring more than the other guys, right? What am I not getting? Was New England outshot by 40-0 last week in Columbus?

Maybe the key is shots on goal. After all, if you got a guy just Pandoing all over the place, that's not gonna help you win. And if you're forcing the other team to Pando from forty yards out, that's a net gain for you. Fortunately, on each team stats page MLS DOES keep track of shots on goal, both taken and faced, so let's give this a try.

1. Dallas: 139 taken, 112 faced, +27 - well, that's enough to disprove the theory right here, but I'll soldier on
2. Royals: 127 taken, 106 faced, +21, although everything you need to know about RSL boils down to home vs. road record anyway
3. Columbus: 126 taken, 108 faced: +18 - okay, at least this makes up some of the discrepancy between shots faced and where the Crew are in the standings
4 (tie). DC United: 126 taken, 113 faced, +13, and I guess those five shots account for six points in the standings, huh? Well, there IS a lot of parity in the league....
4 (tie). New York: 114 taken, 101 faced, +13
6 (tie). Houston: 126 taken, 114 faced, +12, so maybe Dallas is the outlier here, and a positive differential means a good record?
6 (tie). Colorado: 122 taken, 110 faced: +12, no, guess not
8. Younglings USA: 115 taken, 105 faced: +10
9. Chicago: 120 taken, 122 faced: -2, so maybe John Busch is your MLS Best XI keeper without an argument
10. Revolution: 130 taken, 131 faced: -1, and have we been overrating the Revs defense all this time? That's a lot of SOGs for a good team
11. San Jose: 96 taken, 120 faced: -24, and I'd like to see this break down between pre- and post-Huckerby...I'm not going to do it, though
12. Los Angeles, 126 taken, 153 faced: -26
13. Tronno: 105 taken, 140 faced: -35
14. Kansas City: 107 taken, 141 faced: -37

Okay, so really bad teams will get shelled from up close, but just because you're getting great looks at the net doesn't mean you win. Three out of the four worst teams in the league are way, way down on the chart, but the fourth is at the top. Maybe it's all just Kenny Cooper taking really soft shots from point-blank range? Would explain why he's not being called up. But that's a topic for a later, and hopefully more productive, post.