Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Columbus Crisis: We Shall Not Be Moved

Ladies and Gentlemen of Crew Soccer Nation: These are the times that try our souls. The summer soldier and sunshine fan will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of city and club; but the fan who stands by the Crew now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

El Luchador has seen a disturbing trend of our brothers and sisters in the struggle turning their backs on our Great Leader. As the results have not been there on the field, there are fans who are now calling for Coach Robert Warzycha to be sacked.

Let me be clear: This is not Buckeye Nation. This is not the French Foreign Legion. We do not call for the head of our commander when we are in the breach. This is the Crew Soccer Nation. We stand together, especially when times are tough.

We are Massive. We support Coach Warzycha, the Polish Rifle, Our Great Leader.

El Luchador condemns, in no uncertain terms, any statements that undermine our unity.

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

Columbus Till I Die!

From the Scioto to the Olentangy, from South Bloomfield to Delaware, from Reynoldsburg to West Jeff.

Till I die.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mark McCullers Takes Cynical Capitalism to New Low

The Luchador returned from a trip to Cuba to attend last night's match versus the Quebecois, and he was confronted with another example of American capitalism run amok.

The economic injustice perpetrated against the Crew faithful last night is unacceptable. Yes, the Crew beat Montreal, and you can read about that elsewhere. Here, you will read the story of Mark McCullers and his merry band of robber barons exploiting the hard working people of Columbus.

It was a record crowd in large part because the Front Office had advertised it as "$1 Draft Night." This was subterfuge.

The Luchador and his entourage made their way to the upper deck, west and went to order a dollar beer. We were happy to see that there was no line. This is what we found:

Sodexo employees enjoy a good laugh about the $9 Bud drafts on "$1 draft night"
 "Wait a minute, we thought Mark McCullers advertised all week that we could get an ice cold Bud for $1?"

That's when we were informed of McCullers' cynical plan. "No,  if you want $1 draft, you have to go downstairs and stand in a Russian bread line and miss most of the game." That's not an exact quote, but the Sodexo employee said something to this effect.

As we stood in line and heard the crowd cheer Oduro's goal in the 6th minute, we watched as unhappy customer's walked off with two Dixie Cups of beer, one by one. A rumor began to spread that in fact there was a strict, two-cup limit. So, when the Luchador and his posse got to the front of the line, El Chupacabra had an idea. "I would like two ice cold Bud drafts, please," he politely asked the Sodexo employee. They accepted his Venezuelan passport as ID, and handed over the suds. El Chupacabra pounded both beers down and ordered two more.

"Sir, SIR!" a security goon stepped in. "You will have to go to the back of the line." Rosa Parks would be ashamed to see that this is the America we now live in.

At the half, we went back down for another two thimbles of American beer. This is what we were confronted with:

The McCullers Militia block hard-working fans from their $1 drafts.  
The Russian bread line was shut down promptly at the half, just when you need some refreshment. This was not $1 Draft Night. This was a crime against humanity.

This is like the Leslie E. Wexner Medical Center offering free testicular cancer screenings and then informing those who show up that they get the free screening only if they raise $1,000 biking to Athens with Lance Armstrong. In fact, this is exactly like that in every way.

We don't complain that beer's are $9 and that if you want to bring your family to the game you will have to chose between those $9 beers and the kids eating well the rest of the week because ticket prices are so outrageous. Just don't dangle the hope in front of us that maybe, just maybe, one night we might be able to get our drink on at a reasonable $1 price, and then crush our dreams with your trickery.

Mark McCullers, we of Crew Soccer Nation do hereby demand that you no longer perpetuate this lie on the good people of Columbus.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Preview: Crew at Montreal

There are several obvious reasons why it is tempting to bet the Crew to beat the Montreal Impact on Canadian soil this Sunday afternoon. The syllogism goes like this: The Quebecois are French. The French always surrender. Ergo, the Impact will lose.

Silly French. Always giving up.
Throw in the facts that the Crew have already beat the Impact 2-0 and are coming off an impressive home win over Fake Salt Lake, Montreal are on a 3-game losing streak, the Crew to win are paying +190 on the international betting markets, and the wager becomes downright irresistible. But resist you must, my dear comrades of Luchametric Nation. Here's why.

ROAD FORM: The Crew are 1-2-3 in their last 6 road games, averaging less than 1 goal per game in that span. The travel to Montreal is grueling, and the squad will be fatigued.

IMPACT HOME FORM: While they have had 2 consecutive disappointing home losses (to KC and Toronto), the Impact have had some recent spectacular home performances against solid clubs, including 4-2 win of Houston on June 23 and 4-1 win over Seattle on June 16.

DUE FOR A WIN: The Impact debut veteran defender Alessandro Nesta in this match, and more importantly he will be paired with his childhood friend and long-time teammate  Marco Di Vaio, who has so far failed to produce a single goal after his much heralded unveiling a month ago. Di Vaio is a dangerous and creative force up top, and a goal spree is long over due.

So, a Crew victory is not a good bet. But, the Luchametric Institute is recommending that followers lay down their money on the over (2.5 goals) at even money.

The Crew reportedly will get an offensive boost with the long-awaited debut of veteran Costa Rican attacker Jairo Arrieta. And they are due for a big goal performance.  

The Crew may very well pull this one off. And Lord knows El Luchador will be praying for a victory to Our Blessed Lady. But, when it comes to the pocket book. Bet the over. Do it.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Glory To Columbus, Here We Go!"

On Saturday, July 1, 2012, the Columbus Crew supporters organized in the northeast corner of Crew Stadium for a ritualistic tribal chant that channeled glory.


The result was a 2-0 victory over Romney-supporting, white-bread gobbling posers of Fake Salt Lake.

Glory to Columbus. Here we go.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

God Save the Queen and Her Fascist Regime

In honour of Her Royal Highness' Diamond Jubilee, El Luchador offers this classic tribute.
"No future, no future ..."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Crew 2-1 Fire, MLS Semifinal, Crew Stadium, 2008

In preparation for their humiliation tonight at Columbus, Chicago Fire fans should watch this video summarizing the historic Crew victory over the Fire in November 2008 as the Crew rolled to their first MLS Cup Championship.

Header from Marshall to tie it at the 2:50 mark on the video and Eddie Gaven to win it at 3:36.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bet Bayern Munich to Beat Chelsea. Do It.

It's hard to resist the overarching narrative, the mythical allure, the psychic pull of Chelsea in the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final this Saturday.

It's left brain-right brain, yin-yang, good-evil, Spock-McCoy.

Any man in the Western Hemisphere with any heart should want England to reconquer Deutschland, for Chelsea to win the trophy that has always eluded them, and for the underdog to prevail at a decent price.

But as much as your heart may cry out to bet Chelsea, El Luchador's pick is Bayern Munich. Bet Bayern to win in regulation, and to lift the cup, here's why:
  • INJURIES: Chelsea is missing captain John Terry, fellow defender Branislav Ivanovich, and midfielder Raul Meireles. Caretaker Coach Roberto Di Matteo even speculated in the media this week that he might have to dip into the reserves to shore up the defence in this the most important game in club history.
  • HOME ADVANTAGE: Bayern host the match in the Allianz Arena where they have been formidable. They have not lost at home in 15 matches in all competitions, and have only one tie in that time frame dating to November 2011.
  • RECENT FORM: Bayern's only loss in 7 matches was last week at Dortmund in what amounted to an exhibition as Bayern focused on the UEFA Final with no chance of overtaking Dortmund for the Bundesliga title. Meanwhile, Chelsea in the last 7 matches are 3-2-2 and are more heavily played with their successful run in the FA Cup.
  • SENTIMENT: The Luchametric Institute has studied betting patterns for the last 20 years through a rigorous scientific instrument, and the numbers clearly show that the world wide betting public favors English teams in international club competitions by a statistically significant factor of 1.25 to 1. The compelling narrative of England once again defeating the German swine and the underdog Chelsea finally winning the UEFA Champions League, the one title they have never won, will combine to artificially distort the odds to make Bayern's payout more attractive.
Bet Bayern to win outright in regulation and as a backup,  bet them to win the title. Do it.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Requiem For Beulah Park

Louimpressme was the last horse to ever win a race in Grove City, Ohio, paying $9.60 in a starter allowance for fillies and mares on May 5, 2012. It was the filly's 4th Birthday, the traditional closing day for Grove City's Beulah Park, coinciding with the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby. Louimpressme stalked the pace, drew off, and pulled away in the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Coco's Mountain. The $2 trifecta paid $184.20.

Kentucky bred Louimpressme wins Beulah's last race.
Built in 1923, Beulah Park was the first thoroughbred race track in Ohio. After 89 years, on May 5th, 2012, Beulah succumbed to the trifecta of Corporate Greed, Casinos, and Corruption. 

Penn National Gaming, an independent human being according to the Supreme Court of the United States of America, purchased Beulah as part of a plot to exploit as much gambling capital as possible from the Buckeye State.

The plan was to colonize Columbus with a casino on the West Side, and to eliminate competition by moving Beulah to Youngstown. With the backing of lackey's cronies, and henchmen, the plan succeeded.

So, on Saturday, May 5, 2012, Louimpressme became the last horse to ever win a race in  Grove City, Ohio.

The home stretch at Beulah Park looks forlorn after the last race.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Here Are the Horses to Bet In the 2012 Kentucky Derby. Do It.

Greetings Luchametric Nation. Your comrade in the struggle is headed to the hinterlands south of the Ohio River this Saturday for the annual Dionysian rite of spring that is the Kentucky Derby. Mint Juleps for all the ladies.

The more learned among you will surely be asking one critical question: On which horses will the informed and skilled Luchador be placing his hard-won soccer wagering proceeds.

Here are my quick picks for the 2012 Kentucky Derby. For detailed analysis, see the complete Luchametric report at our proprietary affiliates by exclusive membership, upon referral.

Creative Cause 8: Winner of the G2 San Filipe at Santa Anita, this western shipper is ridden by the skilled Joel Rosario and has worked well recently over the Churchill dirt track. He has an impressive distance dirt pedigree and has never finished more than 1 length behind in his 8 career starts. The Mike Harrington-trained colt of Giant's Causeway drew the comfortable No. 8 post and is one of only 3 horse in the field to have hit the 100 Beyer figure (the others being favorite Bodemeister and 15-1 Daddy Nose Best.)
Bodemeister 6: The sentimental Bob Baffert heart attack angle will bet this horse to a disappointing price. However, you must include Bodemeister in all big tickets because of his top speed figures, winning record, impressive physical appearance, excellent Churchill recent workouts and the training style and track record of Baffert. Not to mention Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith on board. Plus, the depressed odds will be countered by the 2-year-old curse (no horse in more than 100 years has won the derby not having raced as a 2 year old.).
Take Charge Indy 3: Two of the last 7 derby winners have come off of wins in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, and these were Big Brown (2008) and Barbaro (2006). Take Charge Indy won this year's Florida Derby in decisive fashion against the likes of Union Rags and El Padrino. And his form has improved with each successive outing. Although he drew a difficult  inside 3 post, at least he's not on the rail, and he is under Hall of Fame Jockey Calvin Borel who won the 2010 Derby on 20-1 long shot Super Saver.    

Brothers and Sisters in the struggle for economic equality through responsible wagering: Here is the Luchador's officially sanctioned betting advice for the 2012 Kentucky Derby:  Bet 3 individual win place show bets on Bodemeister, Take Charge Indy and Creative Cause. Then bet a boxed trifecta including these three horses.

If you can afford if, do a back-up bet as follows: Trifecta 3,6,8/3,6,8/1,3,4,5,6,8,10,11,15,16,19

And keep in mind, The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Crew v Vancouver: Bet the Under

The Nordecke Luchador endorses Obama for President of the United States tonight at Crew Stadium.

With visiting Canadians in town from the Western Conference, El Luchador views it as an opportunity to make a political statement in front of our socialist brothers and sisters from north of the border.

The over-under on Romney-Obama stands at  55 Obama -110. Bet the over. Do it.

As far as the Crew v Vancouver today. Go Crew! But bet the under. Here's why: Vancouver has a 0 goal differential with only an average total of 2 goals scored per game by both sides in 7 matches, and they're on the road. While Columbus does have a a slightly higher 2.5 goals per game in just 6 matches played, they are playing in the wet cold against a solid side and the Crew have injuries and a virus going about with keeper Gruenebaum under the weather and Hesmer still out. They will play a conservative, defensive minded style. To top it off, this is the time of year when the Crew traditionally go on their annual goal fast.

Bet the under (2.5) and hope for it to end either 1-0, 0-0 or 1-1. Go Crew!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sporting KC and Home Field Advantage in Soccer: A Luchametric Quickie


Last night Sporting KC got its first home goal and its first home win, beating a surging San Jose club at Livestrong Sporting Park 1-0. We had predicted a SJO win, what with their lead-leading 1.54 Goals For per Game average going into the match, and their excellent recent form: 4 wins and a draw in their last 5 matches.  But KC looked better than we've seen them all year and prevailed in what we thought was a tight match.  In thinking about what we had missed in our analysis of the match, we realized that we had forgotten the most fundamental truth about professional soccer and about wagering on professional soccer: the 50/25/25 rule.

What's that you say? The facts are that in top leagues across the globe, including the EPL and the MLS, all things being equal, the home team will win 50% of the time, the away team 25% of the time, and the teams will draw 25% of the time.  That this is so is just part of the deep fabric of the game, decreed by the soccer gods long ago.  There have been various reasons put forth for this phenomenon, to travel demands on players, familiarity with the pitch, to the energy of the home crowd supporting the home team.  But we'll save any in-depth discussion of home field advantage for another post.

Here's the quickie.  Going into last night's match, KC had played 12 games, 11 of them on the road. In a normal season, half of those 12 games would have been at home, where (again, all things being equal) they would have won a full 50% of those matches (let's call it 6 home games just to make our back-of-a-napkin analysis easy).

Applying the 50/25/25 rule, KC's point total from 6 home games and 6 road games would be 10.5 pts from the home matches (3 wins and 1.5 draws) plus 6 pts from the road matches (1.5 road wins, 1.5 road draws) for a total of 16.5 pts total, not the 10 they were sitting on going into last night's match.

The point is that playing on the road for 11 games to open the season has distorted KC's record considerably, by about 34% or more.  This means they are a considerably better club than they've been given credit for.

Playing on the road in any league is tough, resulting in fewer chances created, more chances allowed, more mental mistakes, etc. KC has more home games left in their schedule than any other club.  Their PTS/GM will inevitably go up.  They will beat clubs at home that are substantially higher than them in the standings.  The only caveat to the 50/25/25 rule is that if two teams are not equal in strength, then the percentages get adjusted to the point that with two very uneven teams, the numbers change to 65/17/17 or even higher.

Our claim is that KC probably belongs in the middle of the pack, not down at the bottom with the likes of New England, who have no excuses.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Aston Villa FC, Birmingham City FC, Alex McLeish, Al Lerner: Nordecke Luchador Weighs In

By The Luchametric Staff

The  Daily Mirror is a tabloid, a rag, if you will. Let's face it. It's shite by NYTimes standards. But this report caught our eye.  If you haven't yet heard, the Scottish PL had some serious football related violence go on over the last season--including the threat of bombings and the actual realization of pitch invasions, including the on-pitch, during-the-game assault of Celtic manager Neil Lennon. So let's be clear: our view is that such violence, stemming as it does from sectarianism, alcoholism, economic stagnation, and a host of other factors, is perhaps explainable by historians--but utterly unacceptable.

So to see the reemergence of attitudes in the EPL reminiscent of the dark, dark days of the Hillsborough disaster and the latest season of idiocy in Scotland has forced us to weigh in.

By every measure, from news reports, to the podcasts we follow, to our own gaze along the sidelines week in and week out, Alex McLeish is a stand-up man, a mensch--the kind of guy you hope marries your sister. He's had success on the pitch in the SPL and the EPL. Yeah, his teams have twice been relegated, but no one can deny that he has a proven record (two SPL Championships, promotion  to the EPL, FA Cup) of doing well with the clubs he's been handed. Most importantly, he's a decent, upstanding, successful, professional, human being.

Last season (2011-2012), unfortunately, his team went down again. And in spite of that failure, he's been hired by the American owner of Birmingham City's cross-town rivals Aston Villa to get the Villains back to the top third of English football and back into the Europa Cup (could Villa possibly get to the Champions League?)  And now he's getting death threats from both Villa fans and Blues fans.

Really?  Freaking death threats? Bullshit.

And here's where this post comes from: we root for Villa. We have Cleveland ties that run deep; we love football; and although we have our preferences among the bigger clubs, we reserve a special place for Villa in our soccer sancta sanctorum.  We understand the passion Birmingham and Villa fans must be feeling, but the vilification of McCleish is utterly dispicable.

No team scored fewer goals per game in the EPl in 2010-2011 than did the Blues.  And we are disappointed in Lerner's decision--we think Villa could have done better.  But the current reaction by "fans" of both clubs is disgusting. You know what? As US supporters of Villa we welcome Mr. McCleish and wish him our best.  Those "supporters" who've lost perspective on a game and a MAN need to step back and reevaluate their priorities.

Sir Alex, we salute you:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

USA vs Guadeloupe: Tactical Analysis


According to our favorite scholarly source, Guadeloupe is "an archipelago located in the Leeward Islands, in the Lesser Antilles, with a land area of 1,628 square kilometres (629 sq. mi) and a population of 400,000."  

Contrastingly, the USA, "at 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) and with over 308 million people [is] the third or fourth largest country by total area, and the third largest both by land area and population," in the entire world.

And yet the US managed only a minimal 1-0 win at home in an important tournament. 

Let's be perfectly clear.  The US looked very good overall and much better than the previous three matches (including the Spain friendly)........against Guadeloupe. And at times, the US even looked excellent...........against Guadeloupe, an archipelago located in the Leeward Islands with a land area of only 629 square miles and a population of only 400,000 compared to a country (US) with 3.9 million youth players in a country of 308 million total.

So what gives? 

As a good friend recently remarked, when a team (USMNT) comes out flat and gives up early goals game after game across two major tournaments (World Cup and Gold Cup), the coach has to shoulder a considerable amount of blame. Further, one would not be too off base to blame that coach's tactics.  In short, given the fact that the USMNT has come out flat in two games in the current Gold Cup, repeating a pattern that goes back to the early goals given up in last summer's World Cup, it would not be too off base to question whether Bob Bradley really knows WTF he's doing in both choosing and lining up his starting XI.  Here's what we've seen over the last four games (against Spain, Canada, Panama and tonight against Guadeloupe) to suggest that Bradley, in fact, might be making unwise tactical decisions.

The US is not playing negative football. Which is great. But our high line and our attack-minded approach has left us vulnerable at the back.  As our favorite scholarly source explains, "A high defensive line allows teams to pin opposition teams into their own territory and apply pressure when chasing for a goal, however, it leaves the attacking team vulnerable to counter attacks by quick opposition players."

That last sentence explains much of what has ailed the US over the last four games, including last night's win over Guadeloupe.  Bradley's 4-4-2 requires both Dempsey and Donovan to pinch in and play as attacking central midfielders rather than as wingers.  The US gets its width from the two fullbacks.  In this system, Altidore and either Aguduelo or Wondolowski play as strikers, and both Dempsey and Donovan press forward from either flank, looking to create and shoot from central positions but generally arriving from the outside.  Neither player hugs the sideline, for example, or tries to get behind the opposing fullbacks.  Bradley plays as a type of box-to-box midfielder (although whether such a position still exists in the modern games is subject to some debate), with Jones as the true holding midfielder.  The point being that in the US 4-4-2, Bradley will press forward when he can and Jones will hold back (generally speaking).  Finally, both fullbacks, Bocanegra and Cherundelo, for example, push high up the field. providing support to the attacking four of Dempsey, Donovan, Agudeuelo and Altidore (although through three Gold Cup matches, Donovan has typically stayed deeper than Dempsey, while the latter has often started from deep but has then looked to get forward, mostly on the left but frequently switching sides with Donovan).  To see how the US shape changed as the Panama game went on, click here.

The end result is that the US typically has 6-7 players in the attack phase when they are in possession, which has been fairly frequent in the three Gold Cup matches (I can't find any time-of-possession data thanks to the continued lame statistical coverage of the US soccer media). This is inspiring and shows how much confidence Bradley has in the quality of the US side. But it must be pointed out that Bradley's approach leaves only 3 outfield players (plus Howard in goal) to defend.  And what every team over the last three games has shown (Spain just tore us apart from every angle possible) is that you can get behind our two fullbacks and create havoc.  Panama did it and won, and Guadeloupe and Canada each created quality chances.

Tactically speaking then, pressing our fullbacks high up the pitch combined with coming out mentally flat has left us vulnerable, with the end result being two shaky wins and one loss.

If one wants to fault Bradley for his tactics, you'd have to begin with the fact that the US system thus far has been too attack-minded, leaving us vulnerable.  The "mistake" is thus a result of either too much confidence in the quality of the US side relative to its opponents, and/or a failure to get them mentally ready for the opposition--probably both.  The key vulnerability is pressing our outside defensive backs too high up the pitch.  Jamaica and Mexico will kill us if it continues.

Against Guadeloupe the US created an incredible number of quality chances (19 shots and 10 shots on goal). They muffed some of those chances and others were stopped  by a quality goalkeeper in fine form who had a great night.  Regarding the latter--stuff happens.  Regarding the former--the US has run out of excuses.  If you think riding the bench in Europe means you can throw your jock strap out on the pitch and win against highly-motivated quality athletes in the most important tournament in CONCACAF, you're fooling yourself.  Dempsey and Howard start week in and week out in a arguably the best league in the world.  But the rest of the US squad aren't exactly locked into their respective European clubs' starting XIs.  Donovan plays in the MLS and hasn't done jack in three Gold Cup starts, although last night he was more of a factor than just on free kicks and corners. Dempsey has been stellar throughout the tournament but missed two gimmes last night.  

The point is that if Bradley is going to attack, he needs to get his players' respective and collective heads straight from the start. Respect  your opponent and come out and win the first 20 minutes--and win them hard.  I do not see the US quality as being so far above Panama, Mexico, Jamaica and other countries that they can play without a sense of passion and purpose for a full 90 minutes and be assured of a positive result.  In the next stages of the tournament, Bradley needs to consider dropping the two fullbacks back or even going to a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-5-1.  Whatever the case, something has to change if the US hopes to advance to the final.  Panama showed that we are vulnerable physically and tactically.  We may have more skill and experience then the other teams (save Mexico), but it's clearly not enough if we hope to maintain our dominance of CONCACAF.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bet the Under and the Draw. Do It.

Once again this season, a great betting angle is to look for the draw and the under in MLS as the teams go through a mid-season slump accompanied by the international call-ups. Every MLS match yesterday was under 2.5 goals, meaning if you had laid down U.S. dollars in legal international betting markets on a 6-game under parlay, you would have made at least 40 to 1.

5 of the last 9 MLS games have been draws.

The reasons for this are simple. Landon Donavon and other goal scorers are on call-up. Teams have higher injuries, and the mid-season stagnation is setting in for certain clubs. Fewer goals means more under bets come in, and more draws are likely.

El Luchador will be looking closely at this week's matches and making recommendations on good value under and draw bets in the coming days.

First up is our own Columbus Crew at home versus the dreaded teetotaling polygamists of Real Salt Lake. This one is NOT a lock, but we will have analysis by 1/2 hour before kickoff once the odds are posted.

As the Luchametric Institute for Predictive Sciences has instructed the Faithful for years, the soccer draw is the highest value bet in the world because people don't like to bet it. You collect from all the suckers who bet one of the teams to win because they couldn't bear them losing.

Bet the draw. Do it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mark McCullers' Jack-Booted Thugs Export Their Brutality to Jefferson Memorial

Former Crew Stadium Security Officers apparently have landed jobs with the U.S. Park Service Police.

As El Luchador has previously reported, the goons who staff security at Crew Stadium look for reasons to throw people out and otherwise interfere with our God-given inalienable rights to public drunkenness.

El Luchador has now learned that this same approach to suppressing freedom has been exported to the U.S. Park Service, who this week arrested several friends of the Luchametric Institute for doing nothing other than dancing at the Jefferson Memorial, ironically a place enshrined to celebrate the value of freedom of expression.

Watch the incredible footage here:

To join the Jefferson Dance Party planned for this Saturday at the memorial in Washington, click here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Joseph S. Blatter

I Hate England For Her Greatness

Friday, May 20, 2011

Luchametric MLS Power Rankings: May 20, 2011

We've updated the Power Rankings for the first time this season.  We love a single table, but because there are so many differences among the teams in terms of how many actual games they've played, even a single table distorts their relative strengths, making things rather confusing.  Points per game gives you a bit of a better sense of who is playing well, but our statistical measure, which takes in a number of weighted variables, provides an even better measure of the differences (in our opinion). 

RSL is on top, which is as it should be.  At 2.29 Points per game they are playing extremely well by any of the traditional measures used to rank teams (Points and PPG). Notice that the Z-score for the LM indicates that a Big Four has emerged this season, at least to this point, with RSL, New York, Dallas and Los Angeles all at 1.0 standard deviations or higher  above the mean. Notice also that four clubs (Toronto, San Jose, Vancouver and K.C.) are as bad compared to the rest of the league as the top four are better. 
Hmmmmmm, perhaps the parity that used to characterize the league is finally gone. We'll see.  In any case, Crew fans can take comfort in the fact that our measure puts them above where they are in the single table, reflecting how disciplined and organized they've been thus far (except at San Jose).  Now if we could only start scoring some goals...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Five Plus Things We Learned about the Crew Last Night Against FC Dallas


The Crew definitely looked different last night when  they lined up against Dallas. has the Crew in a 4-2-3-1 while FSC called it a 4-4-1-1 (they actually called it a 4-4-2 but showed Ekpo lying deep in a 4-4-1-1.  I think on attack the shape was more of a 4-2-3-1 but when Dallas had the ball and maintained possession, which was seldom, there were two lines of 4 defending. So, on attack 4-2-3-1 and without possession 4-4-1-1.

Gone also were both Crew fullbacks pushing up the wings on the attack.  There was occasional overlap to be sure, which is always expected from the outside backs in the modern game, but the sort of sustained attacks Crew fans saw from Hejduk and Padullo in previous seasons were simply not there. Which is fine.  I thought the Crew looked organized in the defensive phase and I would much rather see us playing back than getting caught too far up the pitch and giving up goals.

 What We Learned

Ekpo is no Schellotto - It's perhaps not fair to compare the two, but if Warzycha is going to put Ekpo in the hole as the Regista, the Italian term for playmaker, then he needs to create and make plays.  He didn't do that last night. Perhaps he'll grow into the position, but goals will be few and far in between until he does so.  Gaven did more for CLB in the middle of the park than Ekpo, who frequently drifted to the left, made mistakes resulting in loss of possession, and was generally ineffective.

Gaven Will Come Inside - Eddie was our best player on attack, frequently darting in to the middle to create for others as well as make himself available for passes.  His goal in injury time was excellent.  Without his presence in the lineup we would have been woeful on offense.  We would probably not be too far off to label him a sort of Interiores, a winger who moves into a central position in the attack phase.

Mendoza is Columbus' Adebayor: Without the Quality - Mendoza was lucky to stay on the pitch as long as he did. His work rate was awful and contributed virtually nothing to the Crew's effort.  Cunningham replaced him  in the 61st minute and was much better at finding space and initiating attacks.  It's unfortunate that the latter is a bit long in the tooth to be starting every match, as Mendoza did not impress in the least. Even his penalty strike was awful.

Trade Rogers - If the rumors are correct, the Crew are shopping Rogers and Rogers would like out.  Well, given the fact he is yet to break out, his value is probably as high as it's going to go and now is the time to get something for him.  He has loads of skills but he, like Ekpo, was ineffective.  He strikes us as a true winger who doesn't look to cut inside in a more inside forward role. Which is fine, but his service was terrible, his passing terrible, his first touch horrible.  Watching the Crew in attack in the first half made us wonder whether a 4-3-3 was warranted.  We weren't really getting anything from our wide play, so why not go to a shape that sacrifices the flanks for a tighter more focused attack?  If West Ham can field a 4-3-3 against Man U, which they are doing as I write this, then certainly the Crew could do so on occasion, especially if our back four continue to play well (see below).

Rusmir Will See Red - We like Rusmir alot. He pushed forward in attack and was dangerous when he did so. He was also tough when the Crew didn't have the ball.  He and Burns bossed Dallas' midfield in the first 45 minutes.  It looks like he will play the sort of role Michael Bradley plays for the USMNT: a true box-to-box midfielder who is dynamic on offense and tough on defense.  Nice.  He's obviously very emotional, and the only reason he was subbed was that his yellow at the end of the first half meant RW couldn't risk the Crew going down to 10 men tied 0-0 at home when Dallas' Jackson's second boneheaded tackle within 5 minutes gave them an excellent chance to pick up all three points. 

Our Back Four are Better than Last Year - Hejduk and Padula will always be loved by Crew Fans, but our back four looked better than I've seen in recent years.  James and Marshall were tough in the middle and our fullbacks, although perhaps lacking the wide runs Crew fans are used to seeing from our fullbacks, made virtually no mistakes.  Our defense kept its shape and made good decisions and weren't ever really broken down by Dallas.  They also showed great pace when Dallas threatened on the break.

Bottom line: the demise of the Crew has been widely exaggerated.  I don't see us scoring a lot of goals, but I do see a lot of tight games, a lot of draws, a lot of 1-0, 1-1 results.  I certainly have hopes we can make the playoffs.  If the suits upstairs can make a move and get more quality up top, a true #10 Regista for example, allowing Ekpo to go back out to the wing, we could make a run come fall. We'll see.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November EPL Power Rankings: The Big Three

We've at long last found time to gather the data and crunch the numbers, and although the rankings might raise a few eyebrows, some of the more interesting tidbits can only be found by drilling down a bit deeper into the actual numbers themselves.  First things first, however.

The Rankings

The Big Four is no more. This year, according to our metric, it's the big three and then the rest of the crowd.  Chelsea, Man U and Arsenal  are top of the table, and are all 1.5 or higher in the Z-score for the LM.  Below them are Man City, Everton, Newcastle (yes, Newcastle) and Bolton (yes, Bolton). one could throw Spurs in with this group group, but at .12 STDEVs they don't quite fit in with this second tier of teams.  We root for Spurs in Europe, and think they are clearly a quality squad, but we also think playing in two major competitions (EPL and Champions League) is taking its toll. Whatever the case, the drop off from the top three suggests that the EPL is really comprised of about five sets of clubs, the elite (Chelsea, Man U, Arsenal), the good (Everton, Newcastle, maybe Bolton [we'll see]), the above average (Spurs, Sunderland, Liverpool), the below average (West Brom, Fulham, Villa, Blackburn, Blackpool, Birmingham, Wigan, Stoke), and the dregs (Wolves and West Ham).

Now, although we obviously love numbers, we're not slaves to them.  It's hard to accept Bolton as being better than Spurs. But they're tied in the table, at least on points without considering any tie breakers, and we have them slightly better in our rankings. Bolton is a bit of an odd bird, however, as although they're scoring goals at a respectable clip (above average in virtually every offensive stat we track), they are also a bit leaky (below average in virtually every defensive stat we track).  But on the road they've have been doing exceptionally well, drawing or winning a whopping 84% of their away matches.  You can't argue with those results. But they've only won 33% of their home matches, below the league average at the moment of 43% and well below the historical average number of home wins which is generally around 50%.  Whatever the explanation, Bolton is certainly a solid side, at least through 12 fixtures.

A Bit Deeper

Here are a number of observations from a bit deeper in the data:

Chelsea has only given up a total of 5 Goals Against, which is best in the league. However, they're giving up Shots Against and Shots on Goal Against at a fairly normal rate: 10.92 SHTA/GM and 4.08 SOGA/GM; the league averages right now are 12.2 and 4.26.  This means that the percentage of goals scored against them relative to the number SOGs they give up is a very low 10%.  The league average right now is 31%, which is around the historical average for the league and world football generally. In other words, the average team in the EPL gives up one goal for every three shots on goal it allows.  Chelsea gives up one goal for every TEN shots on goal it allows.  The next time someone you know disses either Petr Cech or Chelsea's back four, punch them in the mouth.

You think Arsenal has a goalkeeping problem? Duh. But here's some numbers worth throwing around: Arsenal gives up only 2.58 SOGA/GM.  That's the fewest Shots on Goal Against per Game in the league.  And they are only giving up .92 GA/GM, which is well below the league average of 1.31.  But they're ratio of GA to SOGA is .35 (the league average is .32). In other words, when teams manage to put a shot on goal, it goes in 35% of the time.  So even though they give up fewer shots on goal than the rest of the league, which accounts for their low GA/GM, if you do manage to create a chance, your odds of it going in are actually better than average--because their goalies blow.

Incidentally, Arsenal also leads the league in the ratio of G/SOG at 53%.  This suggests that they are very efficient and are also good at creating quality chances rather than mere dribblers that roll to the feet of the keeper.  Put a true, world-class keeper in the net and they'd be top of the table.

Finally, what ails Spurs?  Given the number of Shots and Shots on Goal they've managed to create, their Expected Goals For is 19.  The number of goals they've actually scored is a mere 14.  In other words, if they scored goals at the league average rate for every chance they managed to create, they would have 5 more goals than they've actually scored--and goals, boys and girls, equal points in the table.  This suggests that the number of true quality chances they create is actually quite low compared to other clubs. One culprit? How about Crouch? Yeah, he's nine feet tall, so it's much easier to put the ball on top of his head, but perhaps all those headers aren't nearly as dangerous as Harry Redknapp wants to believe. I'd build a franchise around van der Vaart, who wouldn't? But clearly, Spurs is much less dangerous on the attack--at least in the EPL--than you'd expect.  The numbers, and the dearth of points, don't lie.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Luchametric EPL Power Rankings Updated: Chelsea is a Beast

After a long hiatus, we're finally back with our EPL Power Rankings.  The top of the rankings look much like the actual standings--the real insights are a bit further down table. We'll get to those in a second.

First, we'd be remiss not to point out just how dominant Chelsea, in fact, is.  They obviously won't end up with 106 points when all is said and done, but our rankings indicate there is some real separation between Chelsea and even the top clubs.  Currently, they enjoy a 1.45 advantage over the next closest club (Man U) in the Z-score.  Over the last three seasons in the EPL, a difference of 1.0 has indicated a strong difference in relative strength between any two clubs.  Chelsea are averaging over 3 Goals For per game (the league average is 1.34; Man U and Arsenal are both at 2.29 ), and they have given up only 2 Goals Against in seven matches.  They also are scoring 44% of the time when they put a shot on goal.  The league average is currently 29% (historically in the EPL, a SOG results in a goal about 20% of the time). That's a huge advantage over other clubs and a measure of both the quality of chances Chelsea are creating and how efficient they are--that is, they don't need nearly as many chances as other clubs in order to put the ball in the net (how many strikers would have converted the chance Drogba did against Arsenal last Sunday?).  You can look at all the numbers here.  The bottom line is that we think the gap between Chelsea and the rest of the league, including that between Chelsea and the top clubs, is much greater than it was last year. If they can maintain this level of play  for another 7 or so fixtures, we honestly don't think anyone will be able to come close to them this year in the Premiership.

Down table we'd point out just a few things.  First, we've got Blackpool just south of mid-table, and we think that's where they belong.  But their LM tells us that their 10 points, although certainly a big surprise, are not a fluke--as their win at Anfield proved.  On Saturday the Seasiders looked great and played organized and attack-minded football.  And they're overall production thus far has them out of the relegation zone--where most pundits, including us, put them at the start of the season.  Given the fact they've played five out of their first seven games on the road suggests that barring injury they have a good chance of sticking.

We've also got Everton well out of the relegation zone, suggesting that results finally might start coming for the Toffees and soon.  Last year they started slowly and then steadily climbed the table.  Their rate of overall production suggests this year could be similar.  The results haven't been there, but they've been playing decent football.

Newcastle is slightly better than they look in the official standings.  And we think they, too, will start to move up closer to where they belong--mid-table and out of danger of dropping.  West Brom we'll continue to monitor.  They're 6th in the standings and 7th in our rankings, suggesting that their points are no fluke.  However, everyone in the preseason had them dropping, and it will be interesting to see how they do over the next five or so fixtures.  Perhaps one of the stories in the league this year is going to be the resilience of the newly promoted.  We'll see.

Finally, Wolves are going down. Go put money on it.  But what about Liverpool?  We're not about to predict that the Reds will be in a relegation fight come March and April, nor do we think they won't move up table.  However, make no mistake about it, they have played horribly over the first 7 games, suggesting that they're lucky to have the points they do and not that they've been unlucky.  In other words, the numbers make it clear that the dearth of points for the Scousers are no fluke--the production, the effort, just hasn't been there, and the Reds are exactly where they should be in the table--on the bottom.