Portland Timbers

Are MLS Eastern Conference Teams weaker than Western Conference Teams?

Are the Western Conference Teams “better” than their counterparts in the East?  

Two different views of empirical data for your consideration; the first showing the Rankings for all MLS Teams Possession with Purpose in the Final Third that also includes influence based upon Points in the League Table:

MLS FINAL THIRD POWER RANKINGS AS OF 8 SEPTEMBER 2013

MLS FINAL THIRD POWER RANKINGS AS OF 8 SEPTEMBER 2013

Observations:

  1. 6 out of the top 10 teams come from the Western Conference.
  2. The bottom five teams remain unchanged from last week to this week with the bottom three feeders being Eastern Conference Teams.
  3. Is there a trend that can be viewed without taking into account Points in the League Table?

Now for a different view (without influence from Points in the League Table…

This one looks strictly at the empirical data of my four primary Possession with Purpose Categories:

  1. Possession with Purpose Entire Pitch Attacking
  2. Possession with Purpose Final Third Attacking
  3. Dispossession with Purpose Entire Pitch Defending
  4. Dispossession with Purpose Final Third Defending

All of these categories take into account the volume and accuracy of passing,  shots, goals, and defensive activities by all teams across the entire pitch as well as specifically within the Final Third.

Here’s the data points in raw form for your consideration (first to worst) with Total Efficiency Points provided beside Total Points in the League Table.

MLS POSSESSION WITH PURPOSE EFFICIENCY RANKINGS AS OF 8 SEPTEMBER 2013
MLS POSSESSION WITH PURPOSE EFFICIENCY RANKINGS AS OF 8 SEPTEMBER 2013

Observations…

  1. Again 6 teams from the Western Conference are in the top ten.
  2. The team with the best combined efficiency rating across all four categories is Seattle; with Real Salt Lake and Sporting behind by less than 4 hundredths of a point.
  3. The top five teams in the first ranking are the same top five teams (in slightly different order) in this Ranking.
  4. It should be noted that the overall correlation of all these combined categories to points in the League Table is .8854 – that is an extremely good correlation.
  5. Also of interest is that the correlation of Goals Scored for Eastern Conference teams to Points in the League Table is .9642.
  6. The correlation of Goals Scored for Western Conference teams to Points in the League Table is .7809.
  7. That means this combined efficiency data for Western Conference Teams has a better relationship in how those teams perform than Eastern Conference Teams and their ‘Goals Scored’ Correlation to Points in the League Table.
  8. An intriguing statistic (based upon my data to date) is that Eastern Conference Teams (when playing the Western Conference Teams) have 25 wins, 20 Draws and 35 Losses.
  9. Could the Eastern Conference Teams reliance on ‘simply scoring goals’ be putting them behind the power curve against teams in the West?
  10. Philadelphia has the best record against Western Conference teams with 16 points while Toronto has just two; both draws against FC Dallas and LA Galaxy.
  11. For me, the statistics seem to point towards the Western Conference being a more tactical/technical conference than teams from the East.
  12. Could this higher level of competition be helping prepare Western Conference Teams to perform better against the East and therefore, give them a slight edge in the Championship game?
  13. I’m sure there may be others who disagree but it seems to me that teams who get points in the Western Conference are doing it based upon an improved efficiency in possession with purpose and not just scoring goals.
  14. It will be interesting to see how this statistical approach bears fruit when evaluating the Premier Leagues in Europe…

All for now – next up my Match Preview as the Timbers look to take three points as they travel to LA and take on Chivas USA…  Hopefully I will be able to offer some insight from one of the local bloggers there in LA; more later…

 

Chris Gluck

Chris Gluck has been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. His background in soccer started in the United Kingdom, where, as an American, he was the General Manager and President of an English Youth Football Club just outside of Thetford, England. He also served as a head coach for U-11/12's, and obtained his English FA Youth C License Certification through Norwich City FC. Upon returning to the U.S., he was an Assistant Coach and eventually a Head Coach within the Ajax Youth Football Club organization, Kent Washington. Chris offers that the highest form of happiness is a life with a certain degree of craziness; and the ''very' highest form of happiness is to find someone to share it with you. Chris is the President/CEO of Possession with Purpose (Soccer Analysis & consulting) and he retains COPYRIGHT on The Possession With Purpose ideas and research published on this site. Any copyright infringement will result in prosecution to the fullest extent possible.

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