Archive for the ‘Confederations Cup 2009’ Category

Writing for The USA 10 Kit

July 28, 2010 1 comment

As I alluded to yesterday, the folks at The USA 10 Kit are giving me a chance to join them.  I’m really excited about this opportunity and look forward to your continued support.

My first story, What Made Charlie Davies Great?, is up on the site now.  It is a comparison of Davies’ stats from the Confederations Cup and Robbie Findley’s stats from the World Cup.  If you have a chance, please check it out.


MNTs: 2002 vs. 2010

June 27, 2010 Leave a comment

In reading the reactions to the Ghana loss, the discussion commonly returns to the 2002 team, the one that actually advanced out of the Round of 16.  Over the past year, the topic’s been addressed by a variety of sources.  Rather than rehash those articles, I’ll post links to them here for you to peruse at your leisure.

The 2010 World Cup: Good Things from the U.S.

June 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Last summer, the United States made it to the Confederations Cup final.  Now, one year later, the U.S. won its group and advanced to the Round of 16 at the World Cup.  It might be hard to look at the U.S.’s performance: falling short against a team that it could (perhaps should) have beaten as a good sign, but perhaps it was.

Remember that the United States’ performance in the semi-finals and final of the Confederations Cup was other-worldly.  We scored goals 2.4x more frequently than the historical average (based on the rate of shots on goal that actually went into the goal).  And we were one of the most heavily penalized teams in FIFA tournament history.

But in this World Cup, we weren’t scoring with ridiculous frequency.  We played disciplined soccer most of the tournament, avoided too many dangerous plays, and created with a forward who didn’t get much playing time with his club team and others who are relatively new to the international game.  And Gooch and Bocanegra were both coming off injuries, meaning that neither were at 100%.

In short, things did not fall the United States’ way.  And we still (a) got out of the Group Stage and (b) played well against a very talented Ghana team led in part by a keeper who barely plays for his club(s) but is playing out of his mind at the World Cup (he’s rated higher than Tim Howard by the Casterol Index).

U.S. fans are (and should be) very proud of this team.  And particularly excited about its prospects for 2014.  It is a good time for American soccer and I hope that new fans to the Men’s National Team stick around long enough to enjoy it.

The McBride Era — A Look Back

July 11, 2009 1 comment

Ryan’s new post over at The Post, “Brian McBride and the Era of the Target Striker,”  got me curious:  how did the 2002 U.S. team led by Brian McBride up top compare with today’s US team which generally tries to run a similar offense?  In particular, I wanted to know what the statistics would look like if we compared the 2002 U.S. World Cup team and the 2009 Confederations Cup team.  So, I pulled out the FIFA match reports for all our matches in both tournaments, compiled our stats and those of our opponents and put them together.  The results were not quite what I expected:


Read more…

Match Preview: Los Grenadiers (Haiti)

July 11, 2009 1 comment

Today the U.S. takes on Haiti in the final match of the group stage.  Haiti comes into the match with a 1-0 loss to Honduras and a 2-0 victory over Grenada.  Its goal scorers are a pair of 23-year olds:  James Marcelin (midfield) and Fabrice Noel (forward).

Let’s compare Haiti’s stats (as compiled by CONCACAF) with those of the U.S.:

Read more…

U.S. – Haiti: Today’s Referee

July 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Today’s group-stage match between the U.S. and Haiti will be officiated by Costa Rican official Walter Quesada.  The following is based on the stats compiled by

Quesada has only officiated one MNT match:  a 1-2 loss to Trinidad & Tobago on October 15, 2008 in which he issued one yellow card (to the U.S.).  He called 14 fouls on the U.S. and 11 on T&T.  He also officiated the U.S. in qualifying for the 2008 Olympics (a 3-0 victory over Canada: 3 yellows – 1 to the U.S.).  He has never refereed a match with a Haitian national team.

In 38 matches, he has issued 123 Yellow Cards, 11 Red Cards, and 12 Penalty Kicks.  He’s issued red cards in 9 of his 38 matches (23.6%).  He averages 3.24 Yellow Cards per match.

In short, Mr. Quesada appears to be a reasonable official who should not demonstrate any particular bias in the match.

Today’s Scenarios

July 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Tonight the U.S. plays Haiti.  There are a couple interesting scenarios here:

  1. If the U.S. doesn’t lose OR if they lose by only one goal and Honduras beats Grenada, they win the group and face the ‘better’ of Jamaica, Panama or Nicaragua in the quarterfinals.  Otherwise, they’ll face Group A winner Canada.
  2. If Haiti wins by two or more goals OR if they win by one goal AND Honduras doesn’t beat Grenada, they’ll win the group.

For U.S. fans, we’re looking to avoid Jamaica in the quarterfinals.  We’re 5-0-1 against Panama in the last 5 years — with 14 goals for and only 2 goals conceded.  And we’re 2-0-1 against Canada over that same time:  4 goals for and 1 goal against.  But Jamaica gives the U.S. problems.  We’re 1-0-3 against them, with 6 goals for and 4 goals conceded.  our last match against them on April 11, 2006 ended in a 1-1 draw.  (The U.S. hasn’t played Nicaragua in the past 5 years.)

Confederations Cup Shooting

July 4, 2009 Leave a comment

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.

Read more…

Is the U.S. Really Close or Really Lucky?

July 1, 2009 6 comments

Greg Lalas, editor of, wrote recently that “if the U.S. showed anything against Spain in the semifinals, it’s that the time is coming very soon when they no longer merely endure against the superpowers, but actually prevail.”  And Jen Chang recently wrote in his fantastic blog that the U.S. proved in its match against Brazil that the victory over Spain was no fluke.  And while I would like to accept that the U.S. is now a substantially better team than it was even a couple weeks ago, the numbers made me wonder how big a role luck played in our success.

For example, the U.S. shot incredibly well in the last couple matches.  Ridiculously well.  In Stage 2 (the semi-finals and finals), the U.S. scored goals on 67% of its shots on goal and 24% of its total shots.  Those numbers are out of this world.  Spain, no offensive slouch, scored on only 19% of its shots [on goal] and 9% of its shots on goal.  And Brazil?  21% of its shots on goal and 9% of its shots.

In fact, if we look at the top five non-U.S. teams in the Confederations Cup, their statistics are sobering for U.S. fans:  Brazil, Spain, South Africa, Italy, and Egypt combined for 36 goals on 371 shots (150 on goal).  That is a rate of 24% of shots on goal and 9.7% of their total shots.  This is consistent with academic studies that find, on average, 10 shots for each goal scored.  (Pollard, Ensum, and Taylor 2004)

Read more…

Digging into Gooch’s Low Casterol Index — Analysis

June 29, 2009 1 comment

As promised, the point of providing you with all the data behind the scenes was so that we could get into the good stuff.  At the bottom of this post is table similar to the previous ones but this time, we substitute in the player’s rank in the category, rather than the total.

Let’s start by identifying the categories in which Lucio led the other defenders.  To account for error, we’ll identify those categories in which Lucio was either first or second among our sample  and we’ll put in parentheses what Gooch’s rank was in that category.

Read more…