Interesting Stuff About Goals

Discussion in 'Statistics and Analysis' started by kenntomasch, Oct 29, 2003.

  1. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The MLS Cup Playoffs Media Guide ( has some interesting breakdowns for where goals come from that leads to some great analysis.

    For each of the playoff teams (but not the Crew and Burn, unfortunately, which make league-wide totals impossible), they list the number of goals that were scored:

    With the right foot;
    The left foot;
    Off headers; and

    From Open Play;
    via a cross;
    via a corner;
    direct free kick;
    indirect free kick; and
    own goals

    Inside Goal Area;
    Inside Penalty Area; and
    Outside Penalty area

    For these eight teams, more goals were scored with the right foot than the left (160-138) or off headers (54). New England led in right-footers, Chicago (not surprisingly) in left-footers, both with 29.

    191 came from open play (Chicago and New England led with 35 apiece), 59 from crosses (San Jose and DC led with 10 each), 40 off penalties (we had that information already), 22 off indirect free kicks, 10 off direct free kicks, 5 off own goals, and 26 off corners (more on that in a moment).

    236 goals came from inside the penalty area (New England's 37 led the league), 73 from inside the goal area (I assume they mean the six...the Quakes got 14 of those to lead the league) and only 44 from outside the penalty area.

    As for corners - I bring this up because we were talking about it before. Seems like the CK is a very, very, very low-percentage play, at least in terms of actually scoring goals.

    Team totals and percentages of goals off corners to total corners (I realize this might not be 100% accurate, and not 100% of all corners are sent across with the intent of scoring directly off it, and we don't know how they classified a corner-kick goal---did they count a goal not directly off a CK but which started with a CK as a CK goal?):

    San Jose........167....5...2.99%
    Los Angeles.....173....5...2.89%
    New England.....158....4...2.53%
    Kansas City.....126....3...2.38%
    DC United.......175....0...0.00%
    THESE TEAMS...1,224...26...2.12%

    I don't know how useful this information is, but I thought it was interesting, and I've not seen it before.

    The raw numbers:

    Right Foot............23..18..16..20..20...7..29..27..160
    Left Foot.............17...5..20..22..29..22..16...7..138

    Open Play.............22..13..23..28..35..16..35..19..191
    Direct Free Kick.......2...0...3...0...1...1...2...1...10
    Free Kick (Indirect)...3...1...1...4...1...3...5...4...22
    Own Goals..............1...0...0...1...0...0...2...1....5

    Inside Goal Area......14...9...5..10...9...9..10...7...73
    Inside Penalty Area...27..23..30..30..35..24..37..30..236
    Outside Penalty Area...4...3...5...8...8...5...8...3...44
  2. microbrew

    microbrew New Member

    Jun 29, 2002
    Nothing about the data seems to contradict common sense. Though, the number of goals off crosses seems kind of low.

    For that matter, the same issue about classifying corner kick goals is the same as classifying goals off crosses.

    As for the corner kick: I see the corner kick as a side affect of play inside the penalty box. A corner kick usually comes from play inside the penalty box, and results in play inside the penalty box. The team that gets more corner kicks usually possesses the ball more inside the opponent's penalty box.
  3. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Good point.

    Without knowing definitions, it's a little hard to do a lot with some of that data, but it is interesting.

    As for crosses, yes, that does seem low. Especially when you consider that one strategy in the outdoor game is to bring the ball on the wing and cross it into the box in an attempt to have somebody score with it.

    But corner kicks is the only area in which we have a context, because we have the number of opportunities (the league keeps CK stats...though, as mentioned, we don't know how many short corners there were, or what they defined a CK goal as) AND the number of successes, allowing us to get a percentage.

    If teams only score on 2% of all corner kicks, then I'm not sure they're worth standing up and getting all excited about.

    I'd love to see the number of direct free kicks taken - I'd imagine the percentage is way low there, too.

    Somebody would have to keep track of all this stuff. If we had sort of a Project Scoresheet for soccer (tough when not every game is on TV), we might know more of this information, but I thought this was worth mentioning.
  4. beineke

    beineke New Member

    Sep 13, 2000

    At first glance, these two items stood out.

    1) Donovan has a reputation as a diver, but he clearly isn't getting any favors in the penalty area. Of course, this may be because he hasn't been active enough in the attack.

    2) With the discussion of shooting percentages, it's interesting to note that low-percentage shooters like Preki and Razov played for the teams that led the league in long-range goalscoring. LD's San Jose, by contrast, was runaway leader in close-range goals.

    Who was New England's best long-range scorer? Kamler?
  5. beineke

    beineke New Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Tough to get a word in edgewise on this forum ...

    Anyway, there are two stats here that really surprise me.

    1) Chicago last in header goals

    This team ought to be among the most dangerous in the air. Jaqua, Razov, and Ralph are big forwards, and Boca, Gray, and Curtin are all strong in the air.

    2) New England last in goals from crosses.

    Isn't Steve Ralston the best crosser in the league? His crosses were certainly effective during Gold Cup.
  6. genpabloescobar

    Feb 17, 2002
    Kenn (and others),

    I know MLSNET has video of every goal on their website, so it could be done off of that for the non-playoff teams.

    I also know that OPTA tracks this kind of stuff in England, and Stats, Inc. does it for Mexico.

    Getting Elias involved in MLS has brought it there too, and MLS certainly has been better than any country except England even before that when it comes to keeping statistics.

    But it has been done before Elias.
  7. TomEaton

    TomEaton Member

    Mar 5, 2000
    Champaign, IL
    I assume from the numbers that what they're calling a "direct free kick" goal is one where no one touches the ball except the kicker, and an "indirect free kick" goal as one that resulted from a free kick but was touched by someone other than the kicker before the goal was scored. This would differ from the terminology used in the Laws, where an indirect free kick is a free kick that MUST be touched by two players before a goal can be legally scored. The difference is subtle but important.

    A lot of those "indirect free kicks" could probably be called "crosses" as well. So could the corners.

    D.C. United didn't score from a single corner kick all year?
  8. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Math wasn't my strong suit, but English is. I don't see the distinction.

    We don't have any of the definitions that Elias (I assume it's Elias) used. It could very well be that if the referee called an indirect free kick, they would classify a goal scored on that play as an indirect free kick goal. Likewise with a direct free kick.

    If the referee calls indirect, and the Laws say two players must touch the ball before a goal is scored, and two players touch the ball and the ball goes in, I would reckon they'd count that under "indirect free kick goals."

    Unless I'm missing something.

    I would like to see the number of opportunities on that, too. I would imagine it's a small percentage of direct (and indirect) free kicks that result directly in goals. If you only counted free kicks from about the 35 on in, that would (to me, at least) qualify as a "chance" from a free kick. As opposed to a free kick after an offside call back in the defensive team's end, or after a foul in the middle third.
  9. Elninho

    Elninho Member+

    Sacramento Republic FC
    United States
    Oct 30, 2000
    Sacramento, CA
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I've gotten a general impression that MLS doesn't score from headers nearly as often as most other leagues. That might be related to the corner kicks statistics.
  10. beineke

    beineke New Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Interesting point.

    For Mexico, I could only find the top individual scorers of header goals (on, which includes everyone who converted at least two headers -- they combined for 80 goals this season, and it seems like a reasonable guess to think there were well over 100 in 380 MFL games, versus only 54 in 300 MLS games.

    Miguel Sabah of Chivas scored 6 headers in only 887 minutes. The average MLS team scored 5.4 headers in the entire season.

    Techie question: posts detailed minute-by-minute match reports in pdf format. What's the easiest way for me to turn pdf into flat text?
  11. kenntomasch

    kenntomasch Member+

    Sep 2, 1999
    Out West
    FC Tampa Bay Rowdies
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    If you find a way to convert .pdf to text, let me know. That would be useful.

    Sometimes when I google something and a .pdf document comes up, google gives me the option of viewing the page as HTML. How it does that, I don't know, and how well it would work for you, I don't know.

    But it might be worth a try if you get the search terms just right.
  12. beineke

    beineke New Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Google would be nice, but they don't seem to have the match reports indexed. Incidentally, if you just want to convert a single PDF file to HTML, that's easy to do. My problem is that I don't know of a way to script this service in order to get a whole season's worth of pdf files.
  13. JG

    JG Member+

    Jun 27, 1999 keeps track of header goals from major leagues. Here are the numbers as of January 1st:

    England: 85 headers/484 goals (17.6%)
    /188 games (0.45 GPG)

    Spain: 80 headers/434 goals (18.4%)
    /170 games (0.47 GPG)

    Italy: 61 headers/369 goals (16.5%)
    /143 games (0.43 GPG)

    Germany: 99 headers/463 goals (21.4%)
    /153 games (0.65 GPG)

    Champions League: 41 headers/236 goals (17.4%)
    /86 games (0.48 GPG)

    MLS was 54 headers in 353 goals for 15.3%.

    Even though the leagues were fairly similar, their were large variations between teams...for example, Real Sociedad scored 9 of their 16 goals on headers, while Racing Santander had no headers in the 20 goals.
  14. JG

    JG Member+

    Jun 27, 1999
    There are more goals scored from outside the box in Europe than in MLS:

    England: 80/484 (16.7%)
    Spain: 67/434 (15.4%)
    Italy: 66/369 (17.9%)
    Germany: 70/463 (15.1%)
    MLS: 44/353 (12.5%)

    If we assume that all free kick goals are scored from outside the box and subtract them from the total:

    England: 66/484 (13.6%)
    Spain: 38/434 (8.8%)
    Italy: 45/369 (12.2%)
    Germany: 55/463 (11.9%)
    MLS: 34/353 (9.6%)
  15. ChrisE

    ChrisE Member

    Jul 1, 2002
    Nat'l Team:
    American Samoa
    This is absolutely great stuff, JG, thanks a lot.

    (Could you point me to the page where you're getting this, I couldn't seem to find it?)

    also, by your stats, we get, for free kick goals:

    England 3.1
    Spain 6.6
    Italy 5.7
    Germany 3.2
    MLS 2.9

    That difference between Spain and Italy, and England, Germany and MLS is absolutely dumbfounding. Worse goalkeeping? Far more technically accomplished players?? Shorter players making worse walls??? Well, it's baffling to me at least.

    (More generous referees and better divers?)
  16. JG

    JG Member+

    Jun 27, 1999
    It's in the "English Premier League Magazine - January Issue" link and the links clustered around it.

    The key is on the second-to-last page of each link--"Hd" is header goals, "In" is goals scored from inside the box, and "Fk" is free kick goals.
  17. beineke

    beineke New Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Thx for passing along the numbers, JG.

    Seems like there are three possible explanations to consider
    1) Tactics
    2) Ability of players to serve crosses
    3) Ability of players to head crosses

    For a team like Real Sociedad, did you happen to see assist numbers, or numbers on who scored the header goals. This might give a preliminary indication about whether (2) or (3) is a more salient cause.

    ... no idea how to separate out #1.
  18. beineke

    beineke New Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    One possible explanation is that different set-piece goals are being counted in different leagues. How confident are we that this is an apples-to-apples comparison?

    That said, I wouldn't be surprised if these numbers are legit. For whatever reason, a lot of the world's best free-kick takers seem to hail from Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. Those countries export a lot of players to Spain and Italy.
  19. JG

    JG Member+

    Jun 27, 1999
    Header goals: Kovacevic 3, De Paula 2, Nihat 2, Jauregi 1, Karpin 1.

    Assists: Karpin 3, Rekarte 3, Chun-Soo 2, Kovacevic 2, De Pedro 1, Gabilondo 1, Aranzabal 1.

    (it doesn't say who assisted on the header goals specifically).

    They only have one "dead ball assist", so the header goals are not coming from corners and free kicks.

    Some of this may just be the champions league only 1 of their 8 goals was from a header, and 4 of the 8 were from outside the box, versus 2 of 16 in the league.

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