By Tony Edwards - San Jose, CA (July 26, 2012) US Soccer Players -- Thursday, and Tony looks at a classic MLS club, wonders how statistical data powered an expansion draft, and salutes an underappreciated American in the EPL.
Which American club has FIFA.com chosen to include in their ‘Classic Clubs’ series?
Bethlehem Steel? The Cosmos? The St. Louis Steamers? DC United, which, according to FIFA play in their “spiritual home” of RFK Stadium. Even in the age of the Pacific Northwest as the vanguard of Major League Soccer, I don't think there's much of an argument that the League's first dynasty is worth honoring. Still, headings like 'birth of an institution' and 'making of a legend' put too much stress on the past. It's been years since DC United was the club that best represented Major League Soccer, and that should be taken as a challenge. Nobody wants to be classic rock when the scene has moved on.
Which MLS coach told Soccernomics co-author Simon Kuper that his franchise was using statistical data to guide their expansion draft?
Seattle’s Sigi Schmid according to an interview Kuper gave to the Optasportspro website. According to Kuper, Schmid said Seattle used statistical analysis to give them insight into how to build the team.
"He felt that was the difference between Seattle and the other clubs in their expansion draft - they were able to use the data to guide their draft and select better players,” Kuper said.
Fair enough, but what does that really mean? For years, scouting in MLS was the job of over-burdened assistants. The College Cup and the MLS Combine were ways for MLS personnel to see players at a central location without having to absorb the cost of a true scouting department. MLS still isn't in the same league as the scouting done by most professional teams. Crediting statistical analysis is fine, but for many in MLS simply seeing potential players in person isn't a given.
A little more than halfway through the season, how is MLS attendance holding up?
According to Soccer America, the League is averaging 18.736, which would set a per-game record. However, with summer ending and attendance lower than expected in a few cities already, plus some teams being out of the playoff hunt, holding on to that number would be an achievement.
In the Premiership era, what three active or former US National Team Players have led their clubs in total appearances in the EPL?
The easy one is Brad Friedel for Blackburn Rovers, with 261 appearances. That Clint Dempsey has the record for Fulham with 184 is a credit to his underrated durability (Dempsey also leads Fulham in goals in the EPL with 49). The third American? Marcus Hahnemann with 76 appearances for Reading. Data comes from 20 Years of the English Premier League e-book.
How many season-ticket holders did Chivas USA have in 2008?
According to research prepared for Portland’s entry into Major League Soccer and released by Portland Online, Chivas USA had 837 season-ticket holders in 2008. Kansas City reported 467 season ticket holders in 2007, but that number had jumped to more than 1500 in 2008. With a new name and a new stadium, things have changed for that once troubled club.
Now, while it might not be entirely fair to look at four-year-old numbers, this gives anyone interested in the League solid data to study. Interestingly, these numbers were done before the Sounders entered the League, but in 2007, Toronto had the League’s highest average merchandise spend, at an amazingly low $4.03 per person. That's not going to buy a fan much of anything in the team store.
Tony Edwards is a soccer writer from the Bay Area.