Monday, July 27, 2009

Updated Power Rankings

The power rankings have been fully updated since last weekend's games. We have tweaked the metric to reflect the latest information we've gleaned from the raw data. The metric is normed to reflect the value of each variable in terms of Goals--Goals being the standard, so to speak. So, a home win is equivalent to 4 G, an Away Win equals 9.08 G, and a Draw is worth 1.32 G. Note also that we have switched to TS per Game as the primary measure of Team Strength. We think that this give a more accurate sense of the relative merits of each team week in and week out. The overall number gives us a sense of how much a team has produced offensively over the course of the entire season. The league average is 4.9 TS/GM. We expect the rest of the year to play out with the teams above 4.9 racking up more Ws and Ds than the average, and the teams below 4.9 racking up fewer Ws and Ds. We'll, of course, see what actually happens. --El Lucha and El Chupa

Thursday, July 23, 2009

El Luchador's Line: DC at SJO (Sweet Action!)

Here's the latest line:

SJO +165 DC +135 Tie +225 Over -111 under -125

We think this offers some sweet action on either DC to win or the tie. The Luchametric puts DC at 113 and SJO at a generous 2. That's right-- a mere 2. We are confident that DC will not lose. They score on the road and they draw on the road. We are actually fairly confident that they will score the win this week. Gamblers roll the dice and go for the tie. DC fans, bet your heart with confidence and enjoy the ride.

As always, check with your sources for the latest lines.

El Luchador's Line: NY at COL

Here's the latest line COL -200 NY +485 Tie +260 Over -142 Under even

Luchametric: COL 106 NY -42

That's right, NY is a NEGATIVE 42. They stink people. Fah-get about it. COL to crush them. Even the over is worse than 1 to 1.

As always, check your sources for the most up-to-date lines available.

El Luchador's Line: NE at HOU

Here's the latest line: HOU -181 NE +410 Tie +265 Over -133 Under -105

Luchametric: HOU 165 KC 41

Houston to win, even with their call ups which are considerable. If the US loses tonight in the Gold Cup and the call ups will be back in time for the match, forget it. But the action here is less-than-sweet obviously. HOU fans can wager their heart with confidence, however. As always, check your sources for the most up-to-date lines available.

El Luchador's Line: LA at KC (Sweet Action!)

The headline says it all. We believe this game offers some sweet action. Here's the latest line:

KC +140 LA +160 Tie 220 Over -133 Under -105

The Luchametric has LA at 130 and KC at 81. This is largely due to the number of draws LA has amassed compared to KC. In other categories, they look very similar. However, LA now has Beckham. Love him or hate him (as we do) he adds to an already potent offense. We think for KC to be favored here is nuts. Admittedly, they are not favored by much (probably a nod to homefield, which btw we believe is an embarrasment to the MLS), but still, of all the games through Sunday, we believe this one offers the intelligent wagerer perhaps the sweetest action of the week. LA to win.

As always, check your sources for the most up-to-date lines available.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

El Luchador's Line: TOR at CLB

Columbus 'till I Die! Here emotion may get in the way of objective analysis. We at Nordecke Luchador know no limit to our hatred of the team from the Great White North--land of the ugliest man in rock n' roll (Geddy Lee), quite possibly the most disgusting peasant food ever invented (Poutine) and certainly the worst fans in the MLS. Cretin, CroMagnon, Pederast--any and all will do when refering to the legion of drunken thugs who will descend like locusts on to Crew Stadium. But enough abuse. Here's the skinny.

ColumbusCrew -133 TorontoFC +295 Tie +240 Over 2.5 (-153) Under 2.5 (+110)

The Luchametric has CLB at 107 and TOR at 97. This difference is negligible, currently translating to about 3 pts in the standings, slightly better than CLB actually is over TOR points-wise. CLB is coming off a big win over RSL at home, TOR off of a tie of league-leading HOU at home. Columbus will be missing key players Robbie Rogers (call up) and Scheletto (injury). TOR's call up (Cronin) is negligible but may be slightly missed on the offensive end. The teams have met twice this season and tied both times, and both games were 1-1.

El Luchador thinks that the odds here are probably correct. Although the Crew are without Rogers and Schelotto, Garey and Lenhart have proven they are fully capable of keeping their team moving forward (Allez!). El Luchador says: CLB to win. The action here, however, is not that sweet, and TOR could manage a tie, as they did against Houston. Rosario is always very dangerous. Crew fans, bet your heart. Those looking to make a killing should look elsewhere.

As always, check your sources for the most up-to-date lines available.

El Luchador's Line: CHI at SEA

The latest line on this match is as follows:

eattleSounders +105 ChicagoFire +220 Tie +220 Under 2.5 (even) Over 2.5 (-142)

We have to admit, this one makes us nervous. The Luchametric has Chicago at 132, Seattle at 115. The difference is largely due to how many away goals CHI scores, which in the metric are weighted heavier than home goals. Call ups are negligible in this match, although CHI will be without its starting goalkeeper, which could make a big difference. The law of averages says that CHI's record on the road is completely insane, and perhaps will start to look more human in the second half. Expect CHI to have more chances than SEA but also to give up a goal at least. CHI is averaging 12 SHT/GM to SEA's 10, while SEA gives up 5 SOGA per game to CHI's 4.4. Interestingly, SEA gives up only .9 GA/GM while CHI gives up 1.3--and that's with their starting keeper.

SEA and CHI tied 1-1 in Chicago their last game. SEA is coming off playing Chelsea and then beating HOU in a tough match. CHI is coming off two wins on league bottom-feeders N.E. and SJO.

El Luchador says: If CHI continues to score on the road like they've been doing all season, it could be a big +220 win for the wager with EL Cojones Grande. Our hunch, however, is a SEA win or tie. Be careful on this one my brothers and sisters.

As always, check your sources for the most up-to-date lines available.

El Luchador's Line: DAL at RSL

The latest line on this match is as follows:

RealSaltLake -142 FCDallas +335 Tie +240 Over 2.5 (-142) Under 2.5 (even).

We think this is about right. The Luchametric power rankings have DAL at 37.5 and RSL at 78. The other numbers tell us that RSL is very tough at home, and that DAL doesn't win on the road. Neither does DAL score (especially on the road), and they give up a lot of SHT generally as well as goals on the road in particular. Both are near the bottom of the actual standings, but RSL has a positive GD and DAL has a negative GD. Both teams will be without their respective best scorers as both Cooper (DAL) and Beckerman (RSL) are up with the US Men's National Team at the Gold Cup. Dallas will have their starting goalkeeper back from injury, which should help. However, El Luchador strongly thinks that the elevation of Rio Tinto Stadium (4,450 ft) is impacting teams as they come into play RSL. Dallas players will be going from 450ft above sea level to over a mile above sea level.

El Luchador says: take RSL to win. A $142 bet will earn you $100. That's a 70% return on your investment. Do the math.

As always, check your sources for the most up-to-date lines available.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

El Douche-o

By El Chupa

We at El Luchador have decided to weigh in on the Beckham problem. Is he a douche? In our view, yes. Is he good enough for the league to bring him in under special conditions and pay him more than other players in the league who are far more productive? Hardly. Is he worth all the free publicity? Probably. But once a douche, always a douche we says. And we can prove it.

There are a number of issues obviously, from how El Doucho acted on the field and in the locker room with the Galaxy last season, to the MLS' decision to bring him in to help the league in the first place, to the basic question of just how much talent he actually brings to the Galaxy.

Let's take the last question first.

The chart below represents the top 30 offensive players in the MLS in 2008. It includes only those players who scored and who either played a minimum of 1300 minutes or scored a minimum of 5 goals. The Luchametric institute has developed a measure of player production that takes into account goals, assists, shots, shots on goal, the percentage of shots the player puts on goal, and the percentage of SOG the player converts to actual goals. As you can see from the data below, the top scorers not only take more SHT and SOG, they also convert a much higher percentage of their scoring opportunities into actual goals than do average scorers. The Player Production metric thus gives players credit for how many scoring opportunities they create (assists), how many they create and/or are given by their teammates (SHT and SOG), the percentage of SHT they convert to actual SOG or actual quality scoring chances, and the percentage of SOG they convert to actual goals.

Notice that Beckham is ranked 25th, above many scorers and typically above the league averages, but also far below the actual best players in the league such as Donovan, Cooper, Schelotto and others. His number of assists is up at the top, but taken with the other measures it becomes clear that, yes, he's good--but he's not good enough for all of the attention lavished on him by the media. Notice that his Pro/GM is right at the league average, and that his SOG% is below the league average, meaning that when he either creates a shot, or is the recipient of a shot opportunity by one of his teammates, he muffs it more often than does an average scorer in the league. The word for that my friends is Eurotrash.

Monday, July 20, 2009

El Luchador's Power Rankings

By El Chupa

Starting today, El Luchador is pleased to bring you his personal MLS 2009 Power Rankings. They will be on the right above the standings and will be updated weekly.

The rankings are based on a metric developed by El Luchador's oppressed worker El Chupacabra, in conjunction with the close empirical observation of El Lucha himself. The metric includes a proprietary combination of weighted statistical variables including: goals, wins, losses, draws, shots, shots on goal, shots on goal against, goals against and even corner kicks taken. As well, the metric takes into account goals, wins and draws at home versus goals, wins, and draws away. The raw number gives one a sense of the overall point production of the team across an entire season. The "per game" number gives one a sense of the average power or potential for point production a team brings to each match.

The metric is a work in progress and will be updated as El Chupa and El Lucha continue to wrestle with the murky and alchemical world of soccer statistics. Tune in regularly for updates and analysis, including game predictions and the handicapping of games as a service to those who enjoy responsible wagering on US and world soccer, wherever such wagering is legal.

The metric is designed to provide the fan and wager with a more in-depth understanding of the relative merits of each team. The standings tell us how well each team has fared relative to the others, but the metric, in conjunction with the statistics El Chupa maintains as part of his work at the Luchametric Institute, tell us more about WHY each team has fared as it has. The basic standings only allow us a broad, general grok of the true merits of each team. As we all know, the best team doesn't always win, or even draw. The metric, however, gives us more information, allowing us to draw concrete and quantifiable conclusions about what the points standings DON'T tell us about how good each teams is relative to the other. Look for handicapped previews of this weekend's games later in the week.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Of Dirty Boots and Hooligans

El Luchador and his comrade, El Chupacabra, continue to pore over MLS statistics at our Advanced Institute for Luchametric Studies. The goal is to develop statistical tools that are soccer-specific which will aid in our understanding and enjoyment of the beautiful game. We also hope to assist those who chose to wager on world futball--in jurisdictions where such activity is legal – to make better-informed bets.

We offer our latest finding because it confirms something many of us have suspected, and because when taken in total with other knowledge and statistics, could form the basis of more productive wagers.

Which team in MLS can fairly be given the title of Major League Soccer’s Biggest Bunch of Hacks?

The dirty thugs of Real Salt Lake!

As the table below details, Salt Lake has consistently racked up the greatest number of Infraction Points (a measure of both yellow cards and red cards [IP=YC +(2*RC)]) over the last two and half seasons. Chivas is a close second, and as we shall see, a team whose play is perhaps the most troubling.

The table below represents complete data from 2007 and 2008 along with the projected total number of IPs each team will generate by the end of 2009 based on a 30 game season.




2009 Projected

Three Year Total

Salt Lake





Chivas USA





Kansas City










New York






























Los Angeles





New England










San Jose





Note the big drop off in the total number of cards issued in the league in 2008 as compared to 2007. One wonders what happened. Better officiating? Better players? More ladies on the team buses before and after games? Who knows? An in-depth analysis is forthcoming.

Do Reds and Yellows lead to more goals against or to fewer points in the standings? In other words, do the teams who commit the greatest number of heinous fouls suffer as a result? A preliminary analysis suggests that on average, hacks are a weak indicator of a team's overall place in the standings, and that dirty play doesn''t necessarily add up to losses.

In 2008, the average number of IPs was 67, and the average number of PTS per team was 41. As the chart below indicates, the teams with the most points in 2008 were right around the league average or below in terms of IPs, although one team (the hooligans of Chivas) LEAD the league in IPs AND managed to produce 43 PTS, or one PT above the league average. Notice also that four teams with a greater than average number of IPs generated more PTS than three teams with less-than-average number of IPs. This means that hacking (or bad officiating, depending on the game and the ref) doesn't necessarily result in more losses.

The chart above shows that as hacks went up, teams were on both sides of the league average in terms of number of PTS generated. In short, there is no direct correlation indicating that if you foul more than the other team, your chances of winning go down. In some cases yes, in some no.

The data from 2007 is a bit stranger. Again the average number of PTS was 41 but the average number of IPs was 112. Notice that three of the four teams with the greatest number of PTS had fewer IPs than the league average, but one of those teams (again, the hooligans of Chivas) had 131 IPs, or a substantially higher number of IPs than the league average. This again suggests that dirty play doesn't necessarily result in enough cards and free kicks to hurt a team in the long run. Should you foul in the Penalty Area? Of course not. We're talking about general trends across an entire season.

The bottom line: they may make the beautiful game ugly, but as long as teams like Chivas can play dirty and still earn PTS, they have little incentive to alter their style of play. So hack away you dirty thugs! But remember the wisdom of Kahn: revenge is a dish best served cold.