MLS – Just Past the Quartermark, Beckham, Goals

Posted on by Peter C


Here in the US we like to break things into large portions. Halves in football, thirds in hockey, quarters in basketball(eighth’s only count in pizza). Which leads me to this; time to look a deeper at some of this season’s numbers as this week the MLS season has passed the quarter mark. At this point in the season, you usually have a grasp of what hot teams are for real or which wunderkind will have staying power.

A few thoughts:
Fabulous Fredy and the flying Sounders have settled down. After winning their first three games and not allowing a goal, Seattle has won 1, drawn 2 and lost 2. Houston got off to it’s normal slow start. They now seem to be settling in with Stuart Holden filling the shoes of traded Dwayne de Rosario. TFC is pretty much in the same position as it was last year. With the departure of Coach Carver, can they avoid last year’s fall out of the playoffs by season’s end? And then there’s Chivas USA. With bubble gum and baling wire, Preki has guided the club to the top of the table with as many as seven starters missing significant time. He did the same fine job last year, finishing 2nd in the west with many players out with injuries.

Points after 61 Games
  08   09
Pts GP   Pts GP
 Chivas USA  11   9     22   9 
 Seattle  0   0     14   8 
 DC United  9   10     14   9 
 Toronto FC  14   9     13   9 
 Chicago  16   8     12   8 
 Colorado  12   9     11   7 
 Houston  10   9     11   7 
 Kansas City  11   8     11   9 
 Real Salt Lake  8   9     10   8 
 Los Angeles  11   8     9   8 
 New England  19   10     9   7 
 NY Red Bull  12   7     8   9 
 Columbus  19   9     8   8 
 San Jose  7   8     5   8 
 Dallas  12   9     4   8 

The Beckham effect:

With MLS attendance worries, seven clubs are down over 20% after a like number of games, the league is down only 5%. Of course, the sonic boom in Seattle(sorry, I just had to do it) is keeping the overall number reasonably respectable in this difficult economy. Discussions of this type normally gravitate to factors such as the overall economy, weather and competing sporting events. I figured I take a look at the ‘Beckham effect’. People can argue over whether ‘Goldenballs’ adventure in the US was good or bad for MLS, but a couple of things are irrefutable; more folks in more places are talking about MLS, for better or worse, and he put fans in the seats. See the chart below that illustrates the ‘Becks effect’ from last year, when he played in 25 games for the Galaxy vs this season.

The LA numbers are for its four home games. I’ve excluded Seattle from the road games as there’s nothing in ’08 to compare to and because it’s apparent that Seattle would have sold out the LA game regardless.

Beckham Effect
  2008 2009 +/-
Colorado  18,713   12,180   -6,533   -34.91% 
RSL  25,571   16,155   -9,416   -36.82% 
SJ  32,972   15,862   -17,110   -51.89% 
Total  77,256   44,197   -33,059   -42.79% 
LA Galaxy  97,827   79,045   -18,782   -19.20% 

Goals and Home Field advantage:

I read a piece somewhere(sorry but I forgot where) that was bemoaning the lack of goals this season. Goal scoring is indeed down by around 7%. Last year at this point of the season the goals per game average was 2.8, this year it’s 2.61. In absolute terms, it translates to 12 fewer goals in 61 games.

Goals Scored excluding Draws
  Home Wins   Away Wins
 2008   31   79   19   2.55   0.61     18   38   11   2.11   0.61 
 2009   29   61   14   2.10   0.48     10   21   7   2.10   0.70 
WG-Winning Game Goals
LG-Losing Game Goals
WGA-Winning Game Goal Average
LGA-Losing Game Goal Average
Through 61 games – 12 draws in ’08 – 22 draws in ’09

What can we learn from the table above? So far this year, whether you win at home or on the road, you’re scoring the same amount of goals. Losers on the other hand are scoring more when losing at home than on the road.

Does it say something about league play that there have been 22 draws this season, over a third of all games, versus just 12 in 2008?


On Tuesday, the flu-delayed 2nd leg of the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League will determine the champion, who will play in the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup against the other Confederation champions. Atlante has the adantage by virtue of a 1st leg 2-0 road win in Mexico City. They host Cruz Azul for the return and final leg.
Would love to be talking about an MLS team in this discussion next year. The Galaxy in 2000 were the last MLS team to make the finals, which they won.

I really like this tournament but am disturbed by the fact that the finalists had a miserable time in the recently completed Clausura. Both Cruz Azul and Atlante finished last in their respective groups. Have we ever seen a Copa Lib or UEFA Champions League final where the contestants had equally poor seasons?

The Puerto Rico Islanders are one game away from qualifying for the 2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League. On May 15, they play in the semifinals of the CFU Champions’ Cup. A win in the semifinals will put the Islanders in the next Champions league.

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