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Confederations Cup Shooting

As you know, we are using a system to identify specific places on the field, so that we can roughly compare shots based on the location from which they were taken and their results.  The explanation for the system and individual players’ stats are here.

The purpose of this post is to look at our shots from the Confederations Cup matches Italy through Spain (the Brazil stats are still not available).


Let’s start with Distance:  from nearest to furthest.  Note that a shot may be both high and wide, but for our purposes high shots went over the goal.  A shot that was wide, no matter how high, is marked wide.

Inside the Goal Box:

  • 5 shots (2 in first half)
  • 1 goal; 2 high; 2 wide
  • 2 shots from GG (right in front of goal): one high and one wide.

Inside the Penalty Area:

  • 15 shots (7 in first half)
  • 4 goals; 3 high; 2 wide
  • 2 shots blocked; 3 saved
  • 6 shots standing in PG (in front of goal)

Outside the Penalty Area

  • 22 shots (8 in first half)
  • 1 goal; 3 high; 7 wide
  • 5 blocked; 6 saved

And now, let’s look at Angles:

Directly in front of goal:

  • 19 shots (5 in first half)
  • 5 goals; 4 high; 3 wide
  • 4 blocked; 3 saved

Wide and along goal line:

  • 3 shots (1 in first half)
  • 1 goal; 1 high; 1 wide

Within sidelines of goal box but not in directly in front of goal:

  • 11 shots (4 in first half)
  • 0 goals; 2 high; 4 wide
  • 2 blocked; 3 saved

Within sidelines of penalty area but not within sidelines of goal box:

  • 8 shots (6 in first half)
  • 0 goals; 1 high; 3 wide
  • 1 blocked; 3 saved

Outside of sidelines of penalty area:

  • 1 shot (1 in first half)
  • 1 wide

And let’s end with a broad look at shots by half:

In the first half:

  • 17 shots
  • 3 goals; 0 high; 6 wide
  • 2 blocked; 6 saved
  • 2 in goal box (12%); 7 in penalty area (41%); 8 outside penalty area (47%)

In the second half:

  • 25 shots
  • 3 goals; 8 high; 6 wide
  • 5 blocked; 3 saved
  • 3 in goal box (12%); 8 in penalty area (32%); 14 outside penalty area (56%)


Now what’s interesting is that although we took more shots in second halves of matches, those shots were statistically worse.  For example, let’s group those shots taken from inside the penalty area and within the sidelines of the goal box.  I think it’s fair to say these are relatively good places from which to shoot.  In the first halves of matches, we took 5 shots from this area, made 2 goals, 0 went high; 2 went wide, and 1 was saved.  So, 3/5 of the shots were on goal.  (Note, one of the three is Donovan’s penalty kick.)  But in the second halves of matches, we took 11 shots from this area, made 3 goals; 5 went high; 2 went wide, 1 was blocked and none were saved.  Assuming that the blocked shot would’ve been on target, that is 4/11 shots on goal.

And in the second-half of U.S. performances in the two group-stage matches it lost:  10 shots; 0 goals; 7 high; 1 wide; 1 blocked; 1 saved.  Of those shots four were taken within the penalty box: 2 in the goal box and 2 in the penalty box.  All 4 shots went high.

In other words, in the second half of matches, the U.S. took shots more frequently from outside the penalty area.  And in group-stage matches that it would lose, the U.S. sent every single shot within the penalty box high — and only forced the keeper to make one save.

Compare that with Spain’s performance in the second half against the U.S.:  Spain took 18 shots; 0 goals; 1 high; 3 wide; 7 blocked; 7 saved.  10 of the 18 were taken from inside the penalty area.  And 4/8 shots taken from outside the area required saves.  In one match that it was losing, Spain put pressure on the goal:  14/18 shots required action by the defense.  Only 2/10 of the U.S.’s shots in similar situations required defense action.

If the U.S. wants to truly be a top team, it needs to learn to apply pressure in the second half particularly in matches that it is losing.  That’s what the great teams do and what the U.S. will need to start doing if it hopes to be a consistent tournament performer.  As Spain demonstrated, sometimes you can take all the great shots in the world and the defense just holds out.  But it is reasonable to assume that Spain’s strategy for overcoming second-half deficits is going to produce positive results far more often than the U.S.’s strategy will.

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