As the Home Guard prepare to take on Mexico this week, we're going to look at some of the early-season stats for these U.S. men's national soccer team hopefuls.
This is the last U.S. national team game before head coach Jurgen Klinsmann names his preliminary 30-man World Cup roster. After this game, Klinsmann's evaluations of a player's form will come from games in Major League Soccer.
Soccer is a notoriously stat-starved sport. If you look at a "box score" for a soccer match, you see relatively rare events like goals and assists along with more mundane factoids like the match attendance, red and yellow cards, the number of corner kicks taken and substitutions.
Recently, several soccer news outlets have beefed up their stat reporting, but the raw data doesn't tell you much and the various attempts at graphical representation (heat maps, passing charts, etc) don't tell you much about the data that goes into those images.
MLSsoccer.com is one soccer news outlet that does a good job of coding and reporting raw numbers for basic but important indicators of a player's performance in offensive, defensive and possession phases of the game.
For the analytical enjoyment of B/R readers, the following statistics will be recorded and reported for the Home Guard.
- SC%: The percentage of shots that become goals. View this as a player's shooting percentage.
- S/90: The number of shots a player takes per 90 minutes played. This is an indicator of how active an attacking player is.
- Def/90: The number of defensive plays a player makes per 90 minutes played. Defensive plays include tackles won, shots blocked, crosses blocked, passes intercepted, clearances and recoveries. This is measure of defensive activity, not defensive efficacy.
Possession and distribution:
- Pass%: The percentage of player's passes that are successfully completed. This may not be a true indicator of a player's passing ability as some players attempt more difficult passes than others.
- Cross%: The percentage of a player's crosses that are "successful." Only a few positions on the field get involved in this activity, so it as much an indicator of how active a player is in the wide areas as it is in how effective that player is. (N/A means a player has not attempted a cross.)
- Tch/TO: The number of touches a player takes, on average, before turning the ball over. The higher the number, the fewer turnovers the player makes relative to his position on the field (which determines how many times he touches the ball).
More stats will be added as the counts increase with relatively rare events like goals and assists.
Players are divided into the three traditional tactical lines—defense, midfield and forward—keeping in mind that modern soccer formations combine some of these in novel ways so that it is somewhat of a judgment call whether or not a player is a defender, midfielder or defender.
Possession and distribution stats will be reported for all three positions, but offensive stats will not be reported for defenders nor will defensive stats be reported for forwards. Midfielders, of course, will have all three stat areas reported.
All raw data from MLSsoccer.com's Chalkboard.