Monday Musings: Buddle, Adu, Benny, More…

Got a few things we’re working on for this week, so a backseat today for a true feature:


• Buddle Bavarian bound

Edson Buddle has signed and been officially unveiled by FC Ingolstadt 04. Still awaiting anything on terms.

And it gets worse…or better..depending how you see it.

Word from German reporter Dan Bu is that Freddy Adu has been extended a contract pending working into fitness in the reserves. Wow.

He has not signed on yet. (I’d ask for a pen quickly if I was Adu.)

• World’s best

Messi takes the Ballon D’or–the TSG pick…thankfully. Jose Mourinho takes best manager. Easy.

• Statistically-speaking

Great player, but number of passes completed per game is not his mark of success...

We’ve got to get back to our stats effort here at TSG.

Last week I saw this tweet here.

Xavi “managing 156 completed passes to 112 for Levante in Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Levante.”

Thankfully I told you the score. I actually watched the game as well and despite Barcelona dominating possession Levante were steely in the back and most of those passes went backwards.

And finally, who cares how many passes Xavi completed. Is that a sign of success for a Barcelona team that runs an offense that looks like Plinko on the Prices Right?

The answer is it’s not. To me, the “completed passes” statistic is highly relative obviously to the type of game being played, the type of offense of each team has and the game plan that a team, or player, is asked to execute.

Why should Xavi’s pass count be anything more than a number when the backline finds him in a hole and he looks up, doesn’t see anything, and then dumps the ball back? Barcelona has a highly effective offense because Xavi knows when to take chances with passes and when not to.

Similarly, Michael Bradley was often cheered for the mileage he put in at the World Cup. Through the group stage, he was third in distance covered among all players at the World Cup.

However, to me, that’s not a stat necessarily to be proud of. Soccer, many times, is about the economy of motion. Keeping shape and conserving energy until it’s needed. Just–kidding–ask Dimitar Berbatov….who errs on the side of lots of economy of motion.

Okay, stat rant done till next time. If anyone wants to give us a hand cataloging the stats here, let us know.

• Odds on Feilhaber?

Lyle Yorks, agent for many, including Benny Feilhaber on Twitter Sunday:

“Off to Mexico on a deal..back on Wed on time for Thurs MLS draft..then straight off to Europe for the rest of the transfer window. Big Jan.”

3 to 1 odds that Feilhaber gets inked by Cruz Azul by Wednesday? Takers?

• Specs on mark

Jonathan Spector scoring for West Ham, from his midfield role, again in a 2-0 win over Barnsley in the tournament that used to mean someth…I mean the FA Cup. Can we just settle it that Spector is cut out for someplace other than rightback? Too early?


• On Manchester United

Had a chance to watch most of the Manchester United game yesterday. Funny seeing a gap in between the strikers and the midfield for United.

With Wayne Rooney on the pitch, he drops too deep. Without Rooney, United played some through Giggs, but had Berbatov and Chicharito up top who stayed almost too disciplined in not coming back to receive the ball.

I specifically watched Chicharito who has good off-the-ball runs, but needs to be more active on service up top and bulk up to win that service.

• Just like old times…

Thierry Henry training with Arsenal for the offseason. Better move here than Beckham’s especially if Henry is doing a good job of marketing the MLS product.

More coming…

15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Nicholas on 2011/01/10 at 6:54 AM

    I was reading the West Ham boards and one poster who sounded authoritative on the issue said that Spector didn’t garner any interest from Championship League sides. (Barnsley is Championship, right;-).


  2. On Stats – The consistent praise of Xavi’s pass completion stat has begun to annoy me as well. While I love to watch Xavi play the game, ‘ol chameleon eyes sees things from a field level most looking down from on high with the ability to rewind don’t catch until after multiple viewings.

    However, your point about where most of his passes go is spot on; half of his passes are minor ones back and forth between himself and the defense or between himself and Iniesta. Sure these are passes, and they are complete but to constantly laud him for being able to make a 5-yard pass is going a bit far.

    My high school team had one of the local club coaches watching us and keeping statistics in an effort to try to find the holes in our games. The only stat they were keeping track of was how many times we lost the ball via dribbling or errant passes, or (and more importantly) when we passed into a situation that we shouldn’t have and the receiver lost the ball. A statistic like that attempts to capture the player’s decision making abilities, and this is where Xavi shines. Not forcing the issue when it’s not there and making passes that are prolonging possession so Barca can poke and prod a little more to find their opening.

    That kind of stat is also insanely hard to calculate without rewatching the same game over and over (though we have some NFL coaches who are pretty good at digesting game tapes) and making a determination about the pass’s efficacy well after the game has ended.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/10 at 10:42 AM

      That is sort of the beauty. In theory, football is a very simple game, and he makes it look easy. Yes, I *agree* with your main point regarding short, sharp passes, many sideways and backwards, and not penetrating (skewing the stats). But that is more a product of teams sitting deep and conceding the space in front – you have to go from side to side, and sometimes backwards to try and work an opening. Anyways, receiving the ball to feet in a congested area, and knowing where you’re going to play the ball before you get it, is easier said than done, especially considering how quickly the game is played…


      • I would agree. I meant to include that these 5-yard passes are simple, yet there are a lot of players that fail to see and utilize them, or fail to complete them at a % level that they should given their talent and pay-grade.

        I wish I had time to look up the CL states for when they played in Copenhagen. FC Copenhagen didn’t sit back nearly as much as other teams did/do and it would be interesting to see his stats in that game for comparison, especially if we could get the depth of information about direction of the pass.


  3. Posted by Chas on 2011/01/10 at 8:47 AM

    What kind of an agent has a Twitter page which tweets where he’s going???? Kind of unprofessional, to say the least . . .


    • Posted by Dave on 2011/01/10 at 8:25 PM

      I could be wrong, correct me if I am, but:
      Unless this agent represents Facundo Coria, he’s not making a deal to put a player in Mexico’s present Clausura: the period to register players ended December 30, except Pachuca got an extension because of their participation in the Club World Cup; Coria was registered by Pachuca’s deadline, but not in time to play Sunday. Don’t know if Coria’s contract terms are all worked out or not.
      As to Cruz Azul, they already have their limit of 5 foreign players for the Clausura, all 5 played Saturday against Estudiantes.
      The rules are available at Femexfut’s website, along with a report on each match of player rosters, bench, subs, goals, cards, etc. (Ext after a player’s name on the roster means extranjero=foreigner).
      Page 6 of the rules for the 5 foreign players rule, article 29 on page 16 for the deadline to register players for Clausura 2011, the extension for Pachuca has been reported widely enough in Mexican media.


  4. Posted by Iggystar on 2011/01/10 at 9:20 AM

    Anyone watching the MLS Combine games?


  5. Posted by John on 2011/01/10 at 1:45 PM

    If Adu doesn’t sign this contract the general question needs to be asked… “Do you still want to play football at all?”


    • Posted by Iggystar on 2011/01/10 at 6:35 PM

      Hopefully Buddle can talk some sense into him. TSG commented that Clint Mathis would be a good mentor for Adu but Buddle might be better because at one time I could remember Buddle being frustratingly lazy… ugh I wish he wasn’t 21 so I would be better served in not caring.


  6. Posted by dth on 2011/01/10 at 6:43 PM

    Robbie Findley with Nottingham Forest. (7th in Championship, 2 pts off of playoff spot)
    Edson Buddle with FC Ingolstadt (all of 12 pts in the first half of the 2. Bundesliga. 12! 12!)

    Age apparently is more than just a number.


  7. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/10 at 7:44 PM

    sir cross, do you consider a halfback a defender or a midfielder and secondly, would you consider john terry a fullback or a halfback?


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/11 at 6:54 AM

      You’re comparing “definitions” from different eras, and it doesn’t crossfoot quite as easily as that, and perhaps confuses things.

      My advice to you would be to read Jonathan Wilson’s ‘Inverting the Pyramid’…


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/01/11 at 7:23 AM

        maybe i should have just asked if you consider a halfback a defender or a midfielder and kept terry out of it. i understand that there has been an evolution of formations over the years. you do consider a centre half to be the same thing as a centre-back, right?


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/11 at 7:33 AM

          I guess I would use a centre-half and centre-back interchangeably, (I don’t really use the former), but I would definitely interpret them as being the same (even though it is technically incorrect).

          I believe the ‘traditional’ numbering system harks back to that era…


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