Archive for March, 2010

Herculez Gomez: The 2010 Eddie Johnson?

Gomez got a cup of coffee with the USMNT in the 2007 Copa America

Gomez got a cup of coffee with the USMNT in the 2007 Copa America

Two reports this morning on Herculez Gomez who notched another goal over the weekend  in the defenseless, subjectively speaking, Mexican Primera, show that Bob Bradley appears to be taking at least a cursory note of the American striker playing down south.

According to a firsthand account on Goal.com Gomez says:

“With the national team, the opportunities are minimal,” he said. “I have to keep tearing it up here in order to be able to show myself over there.

According to a translation on No Short Corners:

“I have a small possibility of being called,” said Gomez.

Let me diverge here for a second and call on you Robbie Findley, yes you Brian Ching, you Conor Casey and yes even you Charlie Davies. 75 days…who’s going to step-up?

Give it a few more weeks and it will be time for the fifth installment of “With Davies In Repair, Who Strikes?”

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More on Gomez at TSG.

It’s Always In The Numbers

I’ve finally put my finger on why I wasn’t such a huge fan of Soccernomics. I had the wrong expectations of the book.

Number-crunchin'

Beyond the chapter that TSG reader Patrick pointed out on the Champ’s League Final where Edwin Van Der Saar plays a little game strategy with the Chelsea penalty kick-takers, I think one reason I wasn’t enamored is that I wanted more on the in-game play.

What metrics can we put on in-game play, like Billy Beane does with the Athletics, like Daryl Morey does with Houston Rockets, to determine if a player has played a good game or a poor game?

I’m not looking for tendencies, I’m looking for evaluations.

In terms of statistics, we’ve seen a few individual statistics start to creep into the broadcast of the game. The one that pops into mind is showing a player’s “pass completition” when they get subbed out.

I’m not sure how that lone statistic really gives the audience a read on just how that player contributed, or deducted for that matter, from his team’s play.

So in that vain, I’m going to take a shot at some individual statistics that may or may not give you a better idea of how player made an impact on the game:

Goalie:

Traditional: Saves

Saves is a tough one for goalie, a necessary one, but it doesn’t communicate the quality of those saves.

Additional:

Paries: A judgement call here–much like an error in baseball. A parry is a save where it is ruled that the goalie’s was unable to keep possession on the save because of the quality of the shot. Tim Howard would pretty much lead international competition in these.

Service Possession Maintained/Service Possession Lost: Not sure this one works. You tell me. How would we be able credit a player like Pepe Reina who’s service is a weapon. Let’s remove outlets to defenders from this one; so no defender pass completion in the stats.

When a goalie winds up and punts the ball, does his team maintain possession? I like this one also, because if you’re a goalie you are going to start punting it away from someone, like a Robbie Findley, who’s not going to win that reception.

I'm betting these defensive numbers would show that Simon Kjaer (right) is closing in on top defender status...

Defender:

Traditional: N/A

Additional:

Tackles Made/Tackles Failed: Make a tackle and earn possession or disrupt the play? +1. Miss a tackle that concedes an offensive chance? -1. That simple.

Attacks Defended/Attacks Conceded: This likely the best wingfull defensive statistic. A winger possesses the ball and initiates an attack. Initiating the attack is important because it’s putting pressure on the defense. If a defender concedes a shot on goal, a cross or a completed pass still in attack to another offender, then it is a Run Conceded. No dice, Run defended.

Offsides Called/Errant Runs/Errant Runs Scored: Love this one. It’s a team statistic, but much like a penalty in football, you can label the guilty party in this one.

First, the definitions. Offsides Called, again self-explanatory. Errant Runs? This is when an offender, like a Charlie Davies, get behind the defense, another offender finds them with the ball and the defender has to track back and make a play or the goalie does. If the player on the run scores, Errant Run Scored.

The box score for a match might look this might look like this:

OC: 9

ER: 3 (Bornstein (2), Spector)

ERS: 1 (Spector)

Now for an offensive one:

Passes Completed Not Under Duress: I’ve been trying for over 6 months to work this “frustration” into a column. One of my biggest frustrations in game play is when a defender who is not under any sort of duress, makes a simple square or just a check down to the goalie that is imprecise and puts the receiver under duress. I don’t understand how players can’t be more precise at the highest level of soccer. It irks me to no end when a team may create an advantage through quick, precise ball play and the simple first pass is off-the-mark and the chance is gone.

Now I have a rather lengthy definition to take care of it for me. Look out Carlos Bocanegra and you too Jonathan Bornstein, you’re under my microscope.

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Real Madrid versus Atletico Madrid

Real Madrid fans welcoming their crosstown rivals

The last time Atletico won a local derby against their city rivals was back in 1999. They’re a successful club with a glorious past but will always remain in the shadow of their bigger and richer neighbor.

I ended up getting my tickets from an online agency not unlike stubhub but the prices were a lot cheaper. I found them through the Real Madrid site so figured that this was as official as I was going to get. I paid 186 euros for two tickets (there were no two seats together but my friend was a row behind me and 2 seats over) that were located in the northwest corner, perpendicular to the goal line about half way up. Decent seats and a decent price considering it had been sold out for a long time (at least I was happy with it).

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TSG Man on the Scene: Battle at the Bernabéu

Shaun made it into today’s gigantenormous Real Madrid- Atletico Madrid clash at the Bernabéu. Los Blancos came away with a 3-2 win courtesy of TSG Euro-music man Gonzalo Higuain with the game winner.

Hopefully we’ll get a column soon for Shaun; for now, a picture that makes a statement. (Attendance: 84,000)

Amazing....

Wrap: MLS Observations of a Novice, More…

We’ve got a roundtable coming up this week on MLS, but I thought I would kick it off myself today with some observations that I have from opening weekend in MLS.

A chilly but fun night at Kezar...

To qualify, I’ve only been to a few MLS games and probably only outright watched a few more before I started writing this publication. Probably the best experience I had at a game was when the Dynamo played the Earthquake in an exhibition game at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district on, even by SF standards, a cold and foggy night. MLS, you put a team at Kezar permanently and I won’t miss a home game. Scout’s honor.

Actually went with the Die Hipster Brewing guys to that one, and I do remember Brian Ching looking so thoroughly disinterested in playing that night that he got a second yellow early and walked right off the field into the warm locker-room.

That said, and perhaps this will be interesting for you guys or not, I thought I would offer some of my two cents, so you can correct me below or back-up my contentions:

• The MLS doesn’t need another “Beckham”

Beckham looked on at HDC Saturday, another "Beckham" isn't needed...

If you look at the amount of quality soccermen from overseas playing or thinking of playing in MLS–according to reports–you can really see an influx of players who played outside of North America start to gain a little steam post Beckham experiment.

Whether you see Beckham’s MLS time as a success or failure for the product or business, you can’t dispute that the England national certainly added legitimacy with his pedigree of Manchester United and Real Madrid.

After Beckham (January 2007) arrived then did an assortment of others Jaun Pablo Angel (Aston Villa, August 2007), Freddie Ljudberg (West Ham (year hiatus) October 2008), Ryan Smith (Crystal Palace, 2010). Add to this sampling of players, rumors of Thierry Henry and Raul among others..

MLS doesn’t need another “David Beckham,” a press-driving player, it needs to continue to get quality players from overseas that want to play in the United States before they exit their prime. Think of this way, while Beckham lifted numbers, what player can match Beckham’s magnitude with the casual fan to attract fans (hint: not Henry or Raul), maybe a Messi, Rooney or Ronaldo and that’s about it and none of them are obviously coming.

• There is a noticeable increase in production value and advertising in 2010.

Production-wise:

With apologies to this comment by Johnny F, opening saw quite a bit more camera angles in the two games we watched (SJE/RSL and LAG/NER) this weekend. (Johnny we have not heard back yet on our email to FSC on the camera issue.)

Lots of camera angles and lots of attempts by FSC to pick out contributing parts of the game (like Gooch and David Beckham sharing a luxury box at HDC).

Further two of TSG’s suggestions for ESPN for soccer coverage, we’re picked up by Fox (admittedly with lower production value than we had hoped): A Landon Donovan cribs feature (it couldn’t have been drier) and a “telestrator” which featured the two broadcasters moving around checkers on magnetic board. Splurge for the full telestrator Fox!

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Fired Up: Cue the USMNT Redemption Tour

75 days until the Yanks try and tame Three Lions.

Voting for the Don’t Tread Challenge is coming soon….last chance this week to get your entry in!

180 (as I write this) days and counting.

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