7 June 2018

By Martin Buckley

In late May Alliance Council requested a meeting with Adrian Hanauer and Garth Lagerwey to represent the angst from our fellow Alliance members and to question, listen, learn and be informed.

Our goal was to meet and build our own personal thoughts on where our beloved Sounders were headed – and whether Garth was the right person for the GM role. As an informed Alliance Council – we can then talk to our fellow fans and give as much detail as possible about our personal thoughts. Read the much more emotional and less data loaded recap here.

The data drove the questions that we asked of Adrian and Garth.

  • We are used to winning. Does the club believe in winning trophies of all kinds?
  • Goals win games. How does the club plan to bring firepower to score goals?
  • We hear stories about talent not getting signed or retained. Is there a systemic issue regarding player acquisition?
  • 2018 seems like we are cursed with injuries. Why is this?

From my view in the stadium – it’s been a horrible year as a fan. Injuries, losses, Open Cup woes. If you read Twitter, Facebook, Reddit or delve into the comments on Sounder At Heart – one could immerse oneself in the collective grief and misery of the fan base. Anecdotes however, do not make for a productive meeting – so I spent a good amount of time pulling stats from MLS and seeing for myself “how bad it really is”. Was the sky falling?

If you don’t like data – look away now.

A note on the data – I used the raw information from MLS – https://www.mlssoccer.com/stats – and a whole lot of Excel and PowerBI to make some observations. It’s not Opta, it’s not professional, there may be errors. Apologies if you find something. (If Opta want to send me a subscription – I’d be happy).

First off I took the range of 2014 – 2018 for data. 2014 was a standout year – for goals, points and bringing home some silver. The key metrics I captured included: goals, shots on goal, assists, game outcome, role of scorers. Here is the data:

So a few observations as a fan:

  • 2014 really was an exceptional year across all metrics.
  • 2015-2017 saw a trend of improvement across all metrics.
  • Goals scored and shots on goal from forwards decreased – midfield picked up a lot of the slack.
  • 2018 – at 11 games into a 34 game schedule – looks pretty grim.

Looking at the top scorers who are forwards for each season (over 8 goals/season):

  • 2014: Oba, Clint, Barrett: 39 goals (of 42 from forwards, 64 total)
  • 2015: Oba, Clint: 25 goals (of 31 goals from forwards, 44 total)
  • 2016: Jordan, Clint: 20 goals (of 20 goals from forwards, 43 total)
  • 2017: Clint, Bruin: 23 goals (of 26 goals from forwards, 51 total)

Make your own conclusions about 2014 to 2017. I see a team that is doing “the right thing” – with goals being scored. I am sure there are more nuanced conversations using specific player data per game.

2018 continues to stand out with a lack of goals. I don’t think the data needs calling out – we have supported through this for 11 games.

The final data looked at the cumulative points over the 34 game season.

The bad: a linear trend leaves us with 32 points. Urg.

The good: as we recover from injuries, hopefully make some signings – it gets better.

If we have a final 23 games like the final 23 games of 2017 (regular season, not the playoffs) we close with 51 points. That’s playoffs.