American Soccer Analysis does a lot of great things around the “stats” of soccer. There aren’t a lot of stats, but they are finding new ways to quantify what happens on the soccer field.
One of my favorite finds of 2020 is their beautiful graphical looks at expected goals (xG) over the ebbs and flows of a soccer match. Something they call gameflow (g+). I won’t pretend I can explain it, but they have a lovely explainer here.
You are probably familiar with the expected goal (xG) stat. It’s roughly based on where the shot was taken from and some other factors, they (and others) determine how likely the ball is to go into the net. For gameflow they use many other factors including Chance xPG, Shot xPG, Risk xPG, Mistake xPG and more. Seriously, go read it, it’s interesting.
However, even if you don’t want to read it, here are all the beautiful graphs they put out to show all of Sporting Kansas City’s various games (with some early season gaps filled in by other means) over the duration of 2020. Let’s look at them and see if there is anything we can infer.
If this is something that interests you, I’ve been posting them on The Blue Testament’s home page, under fan posts throughout the season. Just scroll down and look to the right on the home page (or on mobile you’ll have to click fanshots at the top of the page).
We’ll go most recent to oldest.
The below chart doesn’t show xG but it shows GameFlow (g+) so that you know, it was 2.41 (SKC) to 0.63 (HOU).
And they don’t have one for the season opener, so this will have to do. Man the Vancouver Whitecaps missed some huge chances.
- Games SKC won and won xG: 7
- Games SKC won but lost xG: 5
- Games SKC drew and won xG: 2
- Games SKC drew but lost xG: 2
- Games SKC lost but won xG: 4
- Games SKC lost and lost xG: 2
The 22 games include the two knock-out games from MLS is Back that you won’t find in the standings.
- Sporting KC are really good at creating chances and not quite as good at finishing them but the numbers are pretty close when you add it all up.
- Sporting have simply won a lot of games.
- xG can be misleading because many of the games where they won xG but lost the game were because they were behind for a while and the other team was bunkering.
- The same is true in reverse where Sporting would get ahead, then not press as much and give up chances but hold on for victories.
- And darn if some of it just isn’t luck.
All in all, I just love looking at beautiful graphs. American Soccer Analysis does a fantastic job on their stats and there is so much more quality to be mined from them. They sometimes do a beautiful xG step chart too, which I wish there was one for of every game.