Somehow in college I was accidentally enrolled in a class called "Intro to College Math". It was horrifying. To this day I still don't understand how it was actually a course taught at an university, but still. It was some kind of hybrid between Algebra I, Algebra II, and basic common sense rolled into one for 18-22 year olds. I nearly lost my $#*! when my peers were stumped by the "If you have a 3 liter jug and a 5 liter jug, how do you measure 4 liters?" I'm serious. We spent 2 entire class periods on this.
Naturally that course stood out to me because of how torturous it was to sit through and I now regret my decision to stay in the class for an easy "A" when I clearly should've dropped it for a more challenging class. I blame my lazy youthful indiscretion on that one. But that led me to think about a new series here on BigDSoccer if I noticed a trend that I thought was interesting. Usually I run with some Chalkboard analysis to scout FC Dallas' next opponent but sometimes there's nothing really there and I hope to use this to share some random findings (related to stats/numbers) that I come across. So here's to the first "Intro to Soccer Math". Hope you guys enjoy it. Cheers.
Winless on the Road
The Colorado Rapids roll into Frisco on a 7 game road winless streak that includes 5 losses and 2 draws. Their last road win was way back in April (4/12) against Toronto FC, so this bodes well for Dallas as both teams enter this match really needing the 3 points in their fight to enter the playoffs.
(Coincidentally, this 7 game road winless streak also includes a 3-2 loss to the Hoops back on 6/7, which ended Dallas' own winless streak of 8 matches.)
Both teams are even in terms of games played, so this is a huge match up for both clubs as this would give Dallas a 6 point cushion or allow the Rapids to catch FCD in the points race.
May I Have Another Cross?
When I look at a team on any kind of streak, I try to look for some kind of discernible pattern to explain their current trend (besides goals scored). First I look at shots, then shots on goal, possession, home/away, etc. Numbers and stats don't tell the whole story about a team, but there's usually some kind of indicator to help make sense of the situation. In this case, I found Colorado's crossing frequency to have some kind of direct tie with their results. Here are my findings from their past 8 matches:
*CA - Crosses Against. % - Percentage of successful crosses.
In their only 2 wins during the past 8 games, the Rapids crossed the ball fewer times than their opponent. In their 5 losses, they crossed the ball more than their opponent 4 out of 5 times. If I had more time I would have loved to research their entire season, but 8 games should be enough of a sample size for an indicator of how Dallas should approach this game - invite them to cross the ball.
Matt Hedges, Stephen Keel, Zach Loyd have the aerial skills to hang with most of not all strikers in the league. On top of that, it was Dallas' inability to win defensive scrambles consistently throughout the year that's been their undoing in terms of goals allowed. So best for the fullbacks to back off just a little and invite the crosses in, rather than risking having someone like Vicente Sanchez beating you on the dribble and forcing the backline to scramble and cover. It is risky to just openly invite someone to whip in crosses into your own penalty area, but the stats are in favor of it and it'll be a calculated risk worth exploring.