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TSG’s USA vs. Ghana Preview: Michael vs. Goliath

USA v. Ghana. Round III. For whom the bell tolls....

USA v. Ghana. Round III. For whom the bell tolls…. (Design by Brent Diskin)

We’ve arrived.

The World Cup.

In true theatrical fashion, the US embarks on its Brazilian journey this coming Monday in Natal against their long-time nemesis Ghana.

A four year cycle marked by coaching turnover galore, Olympic failure, the fall-rise-and-fall again of Stu Holden. The departure of The American One, Landon Donovan. A win in Azteca. A draw in Azteca. A Brian Straus sea-changing article. Snow jobs, in Colorado and by the coach. The promising, now sloven facade of Tim Chandler. The recruitment of Julian Green.

The culmination is now.

Transition.

The oft-forgotten third phase of the game.

Transition. What both teams do, how they react the moment a turnover occurs.

Transition. Where a team shows its drilling, its schooling; where individual players show their speed-of-game thought, their decision-making under fire.

Transition. One incorrect move in attack–a poor read, a poor run–kills what could be the most opportune chance. One missed angle in pursuit, one momentary lapse and they’re dancing, disrespectfully, at your corner flag.

reyna

 

Previous matches in this series have seen the aggressor in transition and their mercilessness rewarded.

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Ben Has Made It To Brazil! Ben Has Made It To Brazil

World Cup Bracketology and Prediction-ology!

TSG is happy to announce the official World Cup Bracket Challenge of bald eagles everywhere: The Shin Guardian’s Bald Eagles of Victory. Get stuck in.

How did USSF miss the domain grab for supereagles.us ... c;mon Fed, sleep at the wheel! Sleep at the wheel!

Any reason to use this picture is a good one.

Prizes to be announced soon. Unfortunately none of them will be as good as an eagle with Michael Bradley as its head. Literally nothing is that good. Nothing.

Something else to tickle your predictive skills abilities later today.

The Wide World of World Cup Wagers

March Madness is one of the greatest sporting spectacles this great land has to offer, and there is no finer place to take it in than Vegas. People are betting on everything. Winners, losers, halftime scores, overs and unders. It’s pretty ridiculous. I was in Vegas this year to donate my money to the casino, I mean watch basketball and bet on some games, and while I stood at the sports book wondering how I didn’t win a billion dollars from Warren Buffet (oh, Syracuse, that’s why!) and if Virginia could cover, I stumbled upon a betting sheet for the World Cup, that had precisely two options for betting.

blondeeee

The Golden Standard. Or The Platinum Blonde Standard?

The first was who would win it all, and the second was who would win each respective group. Seemed straightforward enough, but it made me think, what if I wanted to bet on the World Cup with but not on those two things? What if I could bet on more fitting things, like who would be the first US player to get a card or if Brek Shea would have the worst hair at the World Cup? Those are some things I want to bet on. It seems there should be a broader selection of things to wager my hard earned dollars on, so I thought of a few good ones, similar to all current football betting options at william hill. I’m sure there are other great ideas out there too.

I think the best thing to wager upon would be who has the best hairstyle, both as an individual and team, like the Olympic ski jumping where you are trying to win a medal in each. I think the gold standard here has to be Romania in 1998. Literally.

Certainly Mario Balotelli would be a favorite, as would Brek Shea, if he could have mohawked his hair right onto the roster. So many good options though, with Ronaldo, Neymar, and Reus. Will you take the fro of Fellaini or the braids of Sagna?

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Can “Fancy Stats” Predict the World Cup Group Stage?

Home team advantage?

Home team advantage?

- ALEX OLSHANSKY sets the World Cup odds stage.

Predicting the outcome of soccer matches, and World Cup matches in particular, with any confidence is an exercise for the foolhardy.  One fateful bounce, wonder strike, mistake, penalty, or offside call can change a nation’s entire trajectory.  But, what fun would this event be if we could not dissect and over-dissect all the matchups and possible outcomes?  We have rounded up some of the best regarded international soccer rating systems and played out W-L-D probabilities for every match of the group stage.  Let us meet our contenders:

Elo: Originally devised as a method to rank world chess players, it is one of the most robust international soccer rating systems.

SPI: Developed for ESPN by famed political prognosticator Nate Silver.  Get used to seeing their ratings thrown around a lot during ESPN’s World Cup coverage.

Oddsportal: An aggregator of 10+ online betting house odds.  Reflects the opinion of the betting public.

And…

One way to decide it...

One way to decide it…

 

EA Sports FIFA Video Game: Ok, so using video game player ratings is not a statistically rigorous method, but this still seems a step up from Paul the Octopus.

The Predictions

(Note: all figures represent approximate expected points)

Ranking Biases

Group A

Group A

Group B

Group B

Group C

Group C

Group D

Group D

Group E

Group E

Group F

Group F

Group G

Group G

Group H

Group H

Each one of the four rankings (EA Sports, Elo, SPI, Oddsportal) have relative biases.

In many instances, these biases follow along geographic lines (see table below).

For example, many of the online betting houses are based in Europe, so there is a noticeable bias against lesser known international sides from North/Central America and Asia.

Similarly, EA Sports player ratings are noticeably biased towards players and teams that feature in the major European leagues.  In SPI’s case there is a favorable bias to South American sides which is likely due to the heavy weight they placed on CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying matches (as far as I am aware the raw SPI ratings I used do not take into account continental bias for the event taking place in Brazil, which might be a plausible explanation).

By Region...

By Region…

John Oliver On FIFA & The World Cup

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