Is this the worst U.S. Men’s National Team for a decade?

After a strong run of form including friendly wins against Germany and the Netherlands, the United States Men’s National Team came fourth in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and must now beat Mexico in October to go to the Confederations Cup. This is not what most American fans expected of their team; much of the ethos of American soccer is built on the idea of continuous improvement. But have things actually gone downhill? I decided to look at some numbers from the last three World Cups. Specifically, I wanted to see if the United States had a better squad in the…
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Does a varied attack produce more shots?

Recently Sam Gregory, a writer for Sportsnet in Canada, published a blog at OptaPro that examined the relationship between shots and variation in attack. I want to say first of all that I have a lot of respect for Sam. If and when I expand this business, Sam is exactly the sort of promising young analyst I’ll want to hire. He has a great understanding of both soccer and statistics. In this case, however, we differ markedly in how we’d take on the topic in question. Sam’s approach was to use a linear regression, where he was estimating this equation:…
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Are players more expensive these days?

In every transfer window, fans around the world ooh and aah about the high price of players, especially in the Premier League. Fees and wages seem astronomical, and a few pundits always try to compare them to prices from the past. They’re usually making comparisons that would drive an economist mad. Inflation is word we see in a lot of these analyses. But what is inflation? It’s the rate of change of a price for something specific and well defined: a fresh Granny Smith apple, an hour of work by an experienced janitor in Manhattan, or a matinee ticket to…
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