After reviewing all of this OPTA analysis on the MLS website, and given how often times the Rapids seemingly are a different team game to game, I wanted to see if there was any way to predict or assess how it is Colorado earns 3 versus heading home with nothing.
There are few common tendencies with any Rapids loss, draw or victory. IN fact, in some cases, the results are counter-intuitive from what I would have expected.
1) Passing Rate Success in the Middle-of-the-Pitch and Results
Using basis OPTA chalkboard stats, I was able to calculate for every game the passing success rate within the middle-of-the-field. This was intriguing to me, because I wanted to better understand why teams such as San Jose, Portland and Kansas City seem to give this team fits, and others, do not (FC Dallas). SJ and KC specifically, are known for their pressing style of play, and has caused the Rapids to earn 2 out of a total of 21 possible points. Think about even getting 9 out of 21....think where the Rapids would be with 7 more points.
So I assumed, that the pressing style of play would result in lower passing accuracy/success rate, and predict more often than not, a poor result. But as you can see below, there is little to no correlation. You would expect, that for losses, the success rate to be in the lower right side of the graph, while for wins, the success rate in the upper left. But in the case, the trend line is horizontal, indicating little to no correlation.
2) Possession and Results
One of the hallmarks of the Pareja era has been to move from the Gary Smith "Clog & Hoof" style of play to a more aggressive, attacking and possession oriented style. Given that, you would think that Pareja's system and coaching would yield results, in which when the Rapids played their style of game, they win, and when the other team dictated the style, they lose. Now, granted, some of this may be skewed when teams take leads and sit back in the second hallf, and this analysis did not cover that variable into this. And, I want to break this down further, trying to look at only possession statistics during the first 1/2. But not sure this data is available on the MLS website.
However, in general, possession has an inverse relationship with the Rapids results. A couple of thoughts on this. I have often questioned, prior to the arrival of Gabby Torres and Sanches, whether the team has the personnel to play a possession style of soccer, given Brown, Buddle and Harris are not known for their footwork. Brown is all pace, and attacks on a direct line. If you note, he almost never breaks defenders down horizontally, but instead, muscles his way forward. Buddle and Harris are both more known for physicality in the box or their ability to use an aerial game to attach the box.
So I have questioned whether trying to use possession, and creating opportunities in the way say, an Arsenal or Real Salt Lake would work. How much of Colorado's possession is mostly defensive, or holding possession, versus a possession with an attacking purpose in mind.
This is further supported by showing little to no relationship between passing and shots-on-net.
3) Shots on Net
The one relationship where there seems to be a correlation is Shots-on-Net to actual results. However, without more analysis, understanding what causes Colorado to put more shots on net and create more chances, this is a mystery. Possession is not the key. A few areas I could speculate:
A) % of offensive on each side of the field - is there a correlation between how evenly the team allocates its offense between the left and right side of the field vs. when they seem to focus on one approach of attack (for example - see the 10-9-2013 San Jose loss)
B) Do the Rapids do best when overlapping wings up the side, versus attacking through the middle of the pitch?
C) Is the Rapids success predicated not on possession, but in reality, this team is built to play a more counter-attacking style (see the most recent Seattle game as an example). Set-pieces and quick counter-attacking or quick long-ball movement, utilizing the speed of Torres and Brown.
First of all, statistics applied to soccer has and is still a black box. There are so many variables into how a team scores, and some of those are difficult to measure. They are difficult to measure either because the data is not readily available, such as:
a) The number of possessions longer than 2 or 3 touches?
b) The number of meters per touch (i,e, - a team that plays long-ball has more meters per touch than a team that plays tiki-taka style soccer
Other data is more difficult to get, if ever. For example, vision, creativity, positioning etc... all of those are factors that may be the difference. But that data is currently difficult to measure, and is more subjective.
Secondly, the Rapids in particular are a tough team to analyze this year. Not only are there so many new faces, but there has been such inconsistency in the line-up due to injuries and mid-season replacements, unlike more established teams, in some cases, you really are analyzing apples to oranges, even if the statistic is the same.