The 2013 Table - Magic Numbers, Tragic Numbers & Other Fishy Figures [R]

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by Knave, Aug 23, 2013.

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  1. Knave

    Knave Member+

    May 25, 1999
    Well, the thread isn't closed, so we can still pick up on any loose ends. Like the bit I've got left on parity.
     
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  2. Q*bert Jones III

    Q*bert Jones III The People's Poet

    Kingston Stockade
    Feb 12, 2005
    Woodstock, NY
    Club:
    DC United
    Arbor Day?
     
  3. Sounders78

    Sounders78 Member+

    Apr 20, 2009
    Olympia
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    France
    Guy Fawkes Day?
     
  4. henryo

    henryo Member+

    Jun 26, 2007
    By the way, noted that in the Reserve League, Houston won the East with a Negative GD of -4,
    while Toronto finished at the bottom of the East (& the entire league) with a Positive GD of +3! :p
    http://www.mlssoccer.com/2013-reserve-league-standings

    Certainly something very very special, never before seen in soccer history of the U.S. (& perhaps the word)? :)

     
  5. AndyMead

    AndyMead Homo Sapien

    Nov 2, 1999
    Seat 12A
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
    It looks like the USL Pro games count as there are more losses than wins.
     
  6. henryo

    henryo Member+

    Jun 26, 2007
    On this note, New England almost achieved this unique feat in 2002 Regular Season too, finishing with a GD of ZERO (which could well have been negative, had they not won their final 5 games in succession):
    http://www.mlssoccer.com/standings/2002

    The same can also be said of Columbus 2002 as well, who finished 2nd in the East (level on points with N.E.) with a GD of just +1.
     
  7. henryo

    henryo Member+

    Jun 26, 2007
    One of my favorite article on RSSSF: "Negative Champions"
    http://www.rsssf.com/miscellaneous/kamprec.html#noscore

    MLS actually witness 2 such instances before too:
    Thankfully, there will be none of these in 2013 season... :)
     
  8. SiberianThunderT

    Sep 21, 2008
    DC
    Club:
    Saint Louis Athletica
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    Let's all thank DCU, CHV, and TFC, yes? *slow claps*
     
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  9. henryo

    henryo Member+

    Jun 26, 2007
    Their generous sacrifices made everyone else looked better... :)
     
  10. henryo

    henryo Member+

    Jun 26, 2007
    By the way, NYRB are expected to win the Cup, if Regular Season Series among playoffs-bound teams are anything to go by... :)

     
  11. henryo

    henryo Member+

    Jun 26, 2007
    More Trivia: :cool::D

    16. Mike Petke became the youngest coach to win the SS:
    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2013/oct/28/new-york-red-bulls-supporters-shield-mls-playoffs

    17. K.C. became the 3rd team to finish as SS Runners-up in Successive Seasons (after Chicago 00-01 & S.J. 02-03).

    18. Peter Vermes also became the 3rd coach to finish as SS Runners-up in Successive Seasons (after Bob Bradley 00-01 & Frank Yallop 02-03).

    19. Colorado Rapids’ 18-year streak of never finished among the Top-2 within their Conference continued, with a 5th-place finish in 2013 (their best was 3rd in several seasons).

    20. Toronto FC’s 7-year streak of never finished among the Top-4 within their Conference continued as well, with a 9th-place finish in 2013 (their best was 5th in 2009).

    21. In fact, even by counting Vancouver 2012 and Montreal 2013 (both made playoffs), Canadian Teams have never finished higher than 5th in respective conferences too.

    22. However, Vancouver have set new record for the Most Goals (53) and Best Goal Differences (+8) by Canadian Teams.

    23. Meanwhile, Montreal have matched the best regular finishes by Canadian Teams set by Vancouver in 2012 (11th Overall, 5th in Conference).

    24. For the first time, (not just 1 but 2) Canadian Teams have ended the season with positive W-L ratio and GD.

    25. The good year for Canadian Team was compounded with a first Golden Boot from Vancouver.
     
  12. AndyMead

    AndyMead Homo Sapien

    Nov 2, 1999
    Seat 12A
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
    KC broke a tie (LA, I think) by finishing as SS runners-up for a fourth time (97/04/12/13)
     
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  13. Knave

    Knave Member+

    May 25, 1999
    I put together a league table minus all the results from TFC, DCU and CHV. It's quite interesting.

    I'm going to post something about in the next 36 hours.

    I'm posting this to obligate me to keep that schedule.
     
  14. henryo

    henryo Member+

    Jun 26, 2007
  15. henryo

    henryo Member+

    Jun 26, 2007
    Can't wait!! :)
     
  16. Knave

    Knave Member+

    May 25, 1999
    I had one last question that I wanted to look at before this thread drew to its practical end. That was about parity. Everyone was talking about the tremendous parity we had in the league this year. That’s why the season had such an exciting finish in which all the games still mattered in the final weeks. Except all that talk about league parity wasn't entirely true.

    I've been tracking parity the same way for years with a very simple approach. Look at PPG totals at the end of the season, and determine how much variation there is among all the MLS teams. To do that, you can look at the PPG standard deviation numbers. The bigger the standard deviation, the greater variation among PPG totals. The smaller the standard deviation, the smaller the variation among PPG totals. Larger standard deviations mean less parity, smaller standard deviations mean more parity.

    As discussed off and on in previous versions of this thread, historically, parity tended to decrease with expansion, and increase with contraction. The league has expanded in recent years, and that has probably played a role in creating greater disparity. Increased spending by some teams has probably contributed to that as well.

    So what happened in 2013? Two contradictory things happened. First, the same old trend of increasing disparity that we've seen for years continued. (Sure it ticked down a small amount, but the overall trend since the lobb ebb in 2004 is obvious.) Second, there has never been a year in which MLS exhibited greater parity. These contradictory statements are both true because the second one comes with a big asterisk: parity existed only among 16 teams.

    I predicted in the first post of this thread that we'd see tables with bimodal distributions. That means a bunch of teams clustered toward the top, a bunch of teams clustered toward the bottom, and not too many teams in the middle. I could even explain that kind of distribution: some teams had brains, bucks, or both. Other teams didn't. This was becoming a league of haves and have-nots. That's what we'd seen developing in previous years, and I thought that would happen again. But it didn’t.

    Instead we had 16 teams that were broadly competitive, and then three teams at the very bottom: CHV, DCU, and TFC. That's not a bimodal distribution. It's more like 16 teams and 3 outliers.

    Most of the discussion about parity had to do with playoff contending teams. Those teams did indeed exhibit tremendous parity in 2013. I've posted charts like this before. It shows the PPG standard deviation since 1996 for established MLS teams. (Long story short: first year expansion teams usually suck, and create momentary blips in this graph, which obscure the actual trends. Better just to look at established teams, 1996 excepted.)

    In this version I've removed CHV, DCU and TFC from the 2013 numbers. If you look only at the 16 playoff contending teams, then there's never been greater parity in MLS.

    [​IMG]

    But what happens if you put CHV, DCU, and TFC back in the mix? In that case, the trend toward increasing disparity reappears. More than half of the 19 team PPG variation comes from the 3 teams at the bottom. Those three teams were wildly out of sync with the rest of the league. That's interesting and disconcerting in multiple ways (particularly if your team was at the very bottom).

    [​IMG]

    I think there are valid arguments for considering the three bottom dwellers as outliers and overlooking them. On the other hand, this isn’t a 16 team league. You can’t entirely dismiss them. If you want to make an honest argument about league parity among the top 16, then you have to acknowledge the big asterisk.

    That big asterisk is also potentially consequential from a competition point of view. MLS in 2013 did not play a balanced schedule. In fact, it was completely out of balance even within conferences. Some teams played certain conference teams more times than other teams in the same conference. From a competitive point of view, the unbalanced schedule was madness. We all knew this.

    It was definitely part of the chatter surrounding NYR winning the Supporters Shield. They played in the Eastern Conference along with DCU and TFC. Given their easier schedule, should that title have an asterisk on it? After all, NYR played the cellar dwellers 7 times while POR and RSL played them only 5.

    What would happen, I wondered, if I removed CHV, DCU, and TFC from both the table and the results. In other words, if I just looked at the results between the 16 competitive teams, what would the table look like? It would look like this:

    [​IMG]

    First, note that if you take out CHV, DCU, and TFC, the remaining teams end up playing between 27 and 29 games. So you have to look at the PPG-16 column for the ranking. I didn't even give PT totals here, because in this table those numbers are actually useless. Next to PPG-16 is PPG-19. That's what they actually got in the real 19-team table this season. (Their original 19-team rank is toward the left.) Next to that is the difference between PPG-19 and PPG-16. I've also pulled those numbers out into a separately ranked table.

    [​IMG]

    I'll be honest. As a DCU supporter, I was hoping NYR's Supporters Shield merited an asterisk. But -- and this hurts to write -- it doesn't. They deserved it. (They also deserve to go to Hell.) NYR still comes out atop the 16 team table. In fact, I think you could argue the top 5 don’t change in any meaningful way. The top two are exactly the same, and the next three are tied at 1.52 PPG, their order shuffling only on tie-breakers. Actually, the whole table remains remarkably consistent. Teams move up and down a bit, but nothing major.

    Except for two exceptions: one odd, and one major.

    MTL, surprisingly, moves up quite a lot: 11th overall in the 19 team table, 6th here. MTL is the only team whose PPG numbers improved with the results from CHV, DCU, and TFC removed. That's the odd exception: MTL did worse against CHV, DCU, and TFC than they did against the rest of MLS.

    The major exception is SEA, which drops from 6th all the way down to 13th. I could spin this in two ways. First, SEA cleaned up against the bottom dwellers. SEA played the bottom three 5 times, and they managed a clean sweep of 15 PTS in those games. No other team did that. That’s good, and it’s something other better teams failed to do. Top teams should clean up against bottom dwellers. (Right?)

    Second, when facing the elite teams in MLS, SEA was never truly competitive. At times SEA seemed like a top team, but they never actually were a top team. Against the top 16, SEA was a bottom of the table team. SEA sometimes looked like an elite MLS team, but that appearance was actually something of an illusion, and to the extent that it became a hyped talking point, it was basically a fraud. Against real competition, SEA wasn’t even in the top half of the table.

    (If any team has a legitimate gripe about all this, it’s SJE. Their position doesn’t change that much between the 16 and 19-team tables. But they’re the team that SEA bumped out of the playoffs by beating up on CHV, DCU and TFC. Between SJE and SEA, SJE was the far, far better team against elite competition. If regular season performance is any guide, SJE probably would have been the stronger playoff team. Honestly, after mulling these numbers, I’m basically convinced that SEA does not deserve to be in the playoffs.)

    The sense of illusion surrounding SEA leads to one final point on this: on the 16 team table, the teams that benefited the most from playing CHV, DCU, and TFC weren’t at the top of the table, but rather at the bottom. The top of the table teams did well against everyone. (And if they failed to rout the bottom three, it might have been because they slacked off against inferior competition. That would not surprise me at all. If that’s true, credit Sigi for knowing how important it was for his team to grab every low-lying point they could.)

    If you look at the bottom teams on the 16-team table, they’re the ones that profited the most from playing the true cellar dwellers. CLB, PHI, and SEA couldn’t beat the top teams, but they sure as hell laid waste to the bottom three.

    First, I think this underlines the sense that CHV, DCU, and TFC were outliers. Those three teams weren’t just a bit worse than the others. The worst teams in the 16 team table were destroying them. Teams 17-19 were generally outclassed by teams 13-16.

    Second, SEA, FCD, and CLB were much worse off than they appeared. The stark case here is CLB, because no team owed more to the three bottom dwellers than CLB. If you take away all their results against CHV, DCU, and TFC, then CLB really doesn't look like a competitive team any longer. In the 16 team table, NYR has 1.67 PPG while CLB has 0.89 PPG. CLB's PPG total was a little better than half of NYR's. That's nowhere near competitive. Indeed, that's starting to look more like the bottom three than the top 16. A similar (but less severe) point could be made about PHI. (CLB, by the way, remains burnt toast.)

    Finally, just for fun, here’s what the cellar dweller table looks like.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, CHV is the undisputed king of the crappy teams. TFC comes out right in the middle, and DCU ... oh, for fcuk's sake! Is that for real? DCU actually did worse against CHV and TFC than they did overall in the 19-team league? I take it back. This table is no fun at all. This table sucks.

    That’s more than I intended to write, and all I’ve got for now. So there you go.
     
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  17. aperfectring

    aperfectring Member+

    Jul 13, 2011
    Hillsboro, OR
    Club:
    Portland Timbers
    If I could rep that more than once, I really would... That was both informative *and* humorous throughout.
     
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  18. Sounders78

    Sounders78 Member+

    Apr 20, 2009
    Olympia
    Club:
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    France
    When Seattle had their big push to the Supporters Shield lead, it was at a time they were basically not playing the playoff teams. The end of the year collapse coincided with having to play many of the top teams (and having one player in particular disgruntled with his pay). It will be interesting to see what the off season will bring for Seattle - too much money is being spent for so little return.
     
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  19. Crimen y Castigo

    May 18, 2004
    OakTown
    Club:
    Los Angeles
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    There should be statue honoring this post erected outside MLS HQ.

    (Or, you know, maybe the Emirates...)
     
  20. Knave

    Knave Member+

    May 25, 1999
    #895 Knave, Nov 5, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2013
    One little addendum to the above ...

    There were teams that absolutely blew it this year by under-performing against the bottom three. MTL is obvious. FCD absolutely should have done better too. Not so sure about NER. SEA and CLB weren't good teams. Not by a long shot. They still swept or almost swept CHV, DCU, and TFC. (And I do think Sigi deserves credit there.) Yeah, bad teams get wins from time to time. But if lousy teams can excel against even worse teams, then good teams should dispatch the bottom dwellers with ease. LAG in particular looks to me like a team with absolutely no excuse. To me, they forfeited the Shield contention by under-performing against bad teams.

    [​IMG]
    I'm not so sure they'd like me saying that all their talk about parity this year was something of a fraud because there were three teams that were so bad they effectively didn't belong in the league at all.
     
  21. vividox

    vividox Moderator
    Staff Member

    Aug 10, 2005
    Club:
    Sporting Kansas City
    I want to tell you all about a little idea I have about that. It's kind of out there. First off, it's called "relegation". You see, at the end of each season... guys? Hey, are those pitchforks? Whoa, hey... WHOA!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!
     
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  22. aperfectring

    aperfectring Member+

    Jul 13, 2011
    Hillsboro, OR
    Club:
    Portland Timbers
    OK, I finally got done doing my little project about playoff teams, and here's the results. I decided to only do goal ratios (Goals For / Goals Against), because those tend to be a little bit more informative. 6 of the 10 playoff teams played the same number of home/away games against other playoff teams from their own conference.

    HGR = Home Goal Ratio, home goals for / home goals against
    AGR = Away Goal Ratio, away goals for / away goals against
    TGR = Total Goal Ratio, overall goals scored / goals against.
    TAGR = Total Average Goal Ratio, which is (HGF:G + AGF:G)/(HGA:G + AGA:G)
    HGF:G = Home goals for per game
    AGF:G = Away goals for per game
    HGA:G = Home goals against per game
    AGA:G = Away goals against per game

    East:

    Tm
    HGRAGRTGRTAGR
    NYR2.82.22.502.47
    SKC1.52.01.571.57
    NER0.60.70.650.65
    HOU0.20.30.270.27
    MON9.00.61.231.35


    West:

    Tm
    HGAAGRTGRTAGR
    POR2.80.61.331.18
    RSL1.70.61.001.00
    LAG2.50.61.151.15
    SEA2.00.30.560.65
    COL2.00.41.151.15


    Observations:
    • Montreal only had one goal scored against them by an Eastern playoff team in 5 games. This gave them an absurdly high HGR value. Unfortunately for them, though, they had to play on the road in the knockout round.
    • Houston was all-around bad against Eastern playoff teams. Enough so that even though they were home, it is a little surprising that they made it past Montreal.
    • The East had two teams with <1 HGR, meaning that they were outscored at home against playoff teams.
    • The lowest Western team with regards to HGR, RSL, would be middle of the road in the East.
    • This seems to imply that the West has much more home field advantage at play, and gives some weight to why Seattle won their knockout round game.
    • Another possible interpretation, though, is that NYR and SKC are just much better teams than the rest of their playoff competitors.
    My expectations and guesses for the second legs, based on these tables:
    • NYR should win their leg against HOU, and thus put them through.
    • SKC should be worried, because though NER were outscored in their road matches against playoff teams, they actually did better in them than in their home matches. My best guess here is that either NER ties the game putting them through, or it goes into AET, and possibly PKs.
    • SEA should be worried, because they are going to a team which has a HGR of 2.8, are trailing in the series by a goal, and they also have the worst AGR of all teams, at 0.3 (yes they are slightly worse than HOU on the road, but not hugely so).
    • RSL and LAG I think will go to AET. I think RSL wins the game by one, and it goes into AET, and then PKs.
     
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  23. POdinCowtown

    POdinCowtown Member+

    Jan 15, 2002
    Columbus
    For what it's worth the Crew would be 5-0-1 in that format, losing a match at TFC they led in the 88th minute.
     
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  24. Knave

    Knave Member+

    May 25, 1999
    Shoot ... I checked everything twice too!

    In any case, it just changes the decimals, not the overall picture.
     
  25. POdinCowtown

    POdinCowtown Member+

    Jan 15, 2002
    Columbus
    Agreed. Early in the year we Crew fans thought our 3-0 victory at Chivas on opening day and 3-0 victory over DC in Cbus meant we were a good team. Later we realized what it really meant.
     
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