Monday, December 15, 2008

Graphs Sure Are Boss

More Than I Promised
I know in Friday’s updated I promised we were done with the season review but I also promised to go over some amazing line graphs. Those are contradicting promises but I’m not perfect ok? All I can do is make two promises and keep one of them.

I promise you will all be professional footballers one day. I also promise you will find this update interesting.

Listen to some bumpin’ music while reading

Graph Time!
While doing my season wrap I knew I wanted to show you ways to look at the season besides just watching videos and writing about overall themes. Yesterday I sat down with excel and started to enter results and dates when I realized there was an easier way to look at it all.

Setting the Table tracks all of the games and is your one stop shop for MLS results set into a single table. They also keep track of the individual team’s season on great line graph. I’m going to defer to their great work instead of plotting everything myself.

Chivas USA
When you view Chivas’ season from a distance you can really feel the injuries and ups and downs of the season. More than any other team, Chivas’ year was composed of dramatic wins that inspired confidence and crushing loses that threw the team into downward spirals.

After their first lose (CLB4, CHV 3) of the season Chivas crumbled into a five game downward spiral. In the loss both Mendoza and Kljestan earned red cards. Without the leaders on the pitch Chivas hurt for the next game and three afterwards.

Over and over, confidence is cited by both players and coaches as the main factor to win in the playoffs. Chivas’ graph yells, “We have no confidence.”

KC Wizards
The road is not your best friend. Kansas City’s graph screams, “Don’t get long stretches of road games.” Kansas City hit a brutal seven game road trip early in the season and the after effects lingered even after the trip was completed. The road decimated Kansas City, shattering confidence and wearing out the older players.

Kansas City’s season was saved through trades that reenergized the team and the emergence of young players who broke into the first team.

If the key to winning the MLS cup is consistency and confidence, Columbus has all that and more. They had very few stumbles and heading into the playoffs they were the most confident, consistent, and dominate of any MLS team. Only New England’s graph looks anywhere close to Columbus’.

If consistency and confidence is all that is required to win, Houston could have well been three time champs. After a bad start they steadily moved ever upwards. They had experience and depth at almost every position and were tested and true. Yet despite increasingly positive results and momentum going into the playoffs they were unable to turn all the positives into a win.

Confidence can also be a killer (as can lots of games).

LA Galaxy

The Galaxy were hurt more than any other team by bad coaching. The huge dip in form (above) was a horrible stretch of loss after loss, not a win in sight. I know I’ve hidden my distaste for Ruud Gullit, but talk about incompetent. You know you are in for a horrible season when your head coach doesn’t deem the draft important enough to attend.

Only Colorado was as horribly coached. The only reason they got close to the playoffs is because they had the talent to start and turn things around once Gary Smith was brought in.

Think About Your Feelings

Lookey there. Those graphs not only show how your team performed over the season, they also show how you felt over the season. All those times your team lost and you felt like shite? Right there on the graph. All those times you thought your team was going to make a run up to the top of the table and abruptly failed? Right there.

How nice to have our emotional swings so neatly laid out for us. Thanks again Setting the Table!

Next Time on Advantage Played
I didn’t fuck around with excel totally in vain. I didn’t come up with some sweet pie graphs which I’ll proudly strut in front of you next time on Advantage Played.

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