Thursday, April 29, 2010

Crew at Seattle Preview: A Test of Both Teams


This weekend's fixture between the Crew and Seattle is a tough test for both clubs.  Seattle badly needs three points.  They've only earned 8 PTS over 6 games thus far and are 2-2-2 on the season.  With a full 20% of the season elapsed for the Sounders, they need to step it up or kiss their playoff hopes and its revenue goodbye. Currently, Seattle is at 1.33 PPG. This would get them to 40 PTS for the season, which historically for the MLS has been the cut-off point for getting into the playoffs.  However, our metric is slightly more dour for Sounders fans.  Our current projection is for Seattle to top off at 34 PTS for the season, given their current rate of projection.  Regardless of which measure you prefer, the Green Wave can't afford to drop anymore points at home.

Meanwhile, the Crew have earned a semi-massive 7 PTS in three games, and at 2-1-0 would appear to be the favorite.  Alas, things are not that simple.

It's certainly true that of the the three opponents both teams have faced (TOR, DAL and RSL), the Crew are 2-1-0 with 7 PTS earned while Seattle is 0-2-1 with two PTS earned.  And the Crew are averaging 1.67 GF/GM to Seattle's 1.17.  And thanks to His Royal Majesty King Funk, AKA Billy Jack, AKA William Hesmer, the Crew is giving up only .67 GA compared to Seattle's 1.17.

Overall, however, Seattle has faced a tougher schedule, and one must be careful in assuming that the Crew's numbers are a true indication of their performance.  Seattle's six opponents have averaged 1.2 PPG or -.48 on the LM.  The Crew have faced three opponents who have earned an average of .92 PPG or -1.09 on the LM.  And as we've indicated in an earlier post, the Crew's defense is suspect.

Note also that the table above tells us that the Crew give up more SHTA and SOGA per game than the Sounders, while the number of SHT and SOG each team produces per game are relatively the same.  And both teams are producing less than the league average number of SOG per game.  The Crew does have an advantage in our measure of Quality Shots on Goal, however, suggesting that they need fewer chances to capitalize.  And the Sounders have given up 1 more goal than expected (EGA in the table above) given how many chances opponents have produced against them.

To sum: here's hoping Hesmer keeps up his excellent work, that the Crew's attack gets production from more than just Big Willy Schelotto (who may not even play), and that the Sounders "struggles" (hey, they're currently fourth in the league in the single table) continue.  Unfortunately, this one looks headed for a low-scoring draw.  Take the under at -114 (1.88) if you really feel the need to put some money down on this one.  Or throw the dice on the Crew at +200 (3.00) if you think the Black and Gold's attack is finally going to break through and do some damage.  But honestly? I'd avoid it like the plague.

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