Welcome to From The Upper Deck, my blog about RSL and soccer in general. I have a lot of passion for the beautiful game. I am just a fan that likes to sit in the upper deck and take it all in.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Look Forward to 2014

I am back! After taking some time off of writing during the off season I am back and am ready for RSL's 10th season to start. During the course of this week I will be looking back at some end-of-season stats from last year to go along with the ones that I have already completed. But, with the start of the new year, I thought it would be a good time to talk a little about the blog itself and what I am hoping to accomplish with it.

I started From the Upper Deck early in the season last year. I had been very active on Twitter for a long time (@ccb1212) and one of my favorite topics of discussion was RSL.  I wanted some place that I could talk about RSL in more than the 140 characters that Twitter allowed; and thus, From the Upper Deck was born.

It really grew into something much bigger than I ever thought it would. I never thought I would have the opportunity to interview players, or coaches but I have now been fortunate enough to say I have done both. I never thought I would be in the position to hear such wonderful stories about the RSL Family and what it means to people. I am very happy with how those articles turned out and am looking to continue that feature this year. I never thought I would have other fans step up and write articles for my blog as well (thanks Alan and Pat!). I have loved all those things about the blog. But, first and foremost this blog is about stats.

I love stats. I have loved stats since the first time I bought a pack of baseball cards as a kid. The pictures were great and all, but what I loved most about baseball cards were the stats on the back. They fascinated me as a kid. My love of stats continue on to this day. But it took a little bit of time before my love of stats and my new love of soccer came together. I can thank "Dr. Goals" Kenny Deuchar for it all.

Deuchar came to RSL as a much hyped forward in the 2008 season. Everyone thought he was the answer to our scoring woes from the year before. He wasn't. He really struggled that season to put the ball in the back of the net. However, I noticed something that season. The team seemed to play better when he was on the field. Even though he wasn't scoring, the team was. So I sat down and did some math. I figured out how many goals the team scored while Deuchar was on the pitch. Then I went back and figured out how many goals they scored when he was not playing. My hypothesis was correct. The team scored more goals when he played compared to when he didn't. This is how my Minutes per Team Goal (MpTG) stat came into being. MpTG tells how many minutes it takes for the team to score a goal while a player is on the field. The lower the number, the better.

In the statistical analysis that I do, I look at MpTG more than any other stat. In my mind, the most import thing for an attacking player in soccer is for the team to score a goal. But who scores the goal or who gets the assist can be deceiving. It really doesn't matter who scores the goal as long as a goal is scored. Many times the most important part of a play that leads to a goal is something that happens seconds or even minutes before the ball hitting the back of net. Even though a player does not get credit for a goal or an assist does not mean that he did not have a positive effect on the play. MpTG gives credit to all the players on the field when a goal is scored.

What I find most interesting in looking at MpTG is not so much comparing one player to another. It is comparing the player when he is playing compared to when he is not. Let me give you a perfect example from last season: When Javier Morales was on the field, RSL scored a goal every 44 minutes. When he was not on the field, the team scored every 129 minutes. That is an incredible difference and really shows the value that Morales had on the team.

Next I came up with Minutes per Conceded Goal (MpCG) for the defenders. This is pretty much just the opposite of MpTG. It takes a look at how many minutes on average it took for the opposing team to score a goal when a particular defender was on the field. In this case, the higher the number the better.

I look at many other stats as well for my blog. Some more traditional stats like +/- and others that I have built on my own like the COR score. All of these stats tell a story about how a player is playing. While no stat can tell the whole story, they can point out things that people might miss in just watching the game. The main goal of this blog is to bring that information to you. I will post my conclusions but I still try to present the data in a way that lets the reader come to their own conclusions on the data.

I still find stats just as fascinating as that little kid that first looked at the back of a baseball card. I hope that I can share a little of that fascination with you.

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