Tuesday, October 20, 2009

MLS Power Rankings Updated: Dallas Gets into the Top Eight; Chivas and Kissing Maradona

By El Chupacabra
The MLS Power Rankings have been fully updated through last weekend's games. There hasn't been much movement, although the Crew's loss has narrowed the gap between The black and gold and the rest of the league. Also, Dallas have won four in a row and our Recent Form variable in the metric has vaulted them into the top eight over the other teams stuck at 39 PTS in the standings.

Interestingly, Chivas has 45 PTS in the standings but the Luchametric puts them behind both SEA and CHI, teams with fewer points. This is due to the fact that CVS has fewer ties and more losses than both CHI and SEA. More wins and draws equals more points, but the losses hurt CVS in our metric. We are currently working on an article on the history of why leagues give wins three points and draws one when some soccer statisticians weight draws more heavily. Look for our analysis in a week or so.

Regardless, CVS's position in the standings raises an interesting question: should a team adjust its style such that they are willing to trade draws for losses and wins over the course of an entire season? In other words, does going for the win at the risk of losing pay off over the long haul compared to playing more conservatively and settling for draws? CVS's late rise into top eight perhaps suggests that trading a few draws for losses on the chance that you'll cop a win at some point might be the way to go. We'll look at the numbers and get back to you. But our short take is this.

If you play four games, and you tie three and lose one, you end up with three points. But if you play four games and are willing to risk a loss to gain a win, and you end up thus losing two, drawing one, BUT winning one, you'll end up with four points. Further, even if you risk a draw for a win and fail, losing three and winning only one, you still end up with three points. In short, three draws and one loss is worth just as much as three losses and one win, BUT it's worth LESS than two losses, a tie, and a win. So why not just damn the torpedoes and risk falling on your own sword, at least you'll go out nobly, at least in El Chupa's view.

To sum once again, if playing for the win increases your losses but also increases your wins, within certain parameters (say, you're gamble pays off such that you earn one win for every two draws that turn into losses) it might help more than playing for the tie--which we know is like kissing your sister. Of course, a loss is like kissing Maradona, so be careful O my brothers and sisters.

But we'll crunch the numbers and get back to you.

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