Archive for November, 2011

Quick Grades: MLS Montreal Impact Expansion Draft

Some of this is recounting from Twitterisms–some, you just couldn’t make up:

Seattle Sounders: B+

Fucito, not cruising anywhere...

Good day to you Sounders fans. Two years ago Sebu Le Toux couldn’t quite get on the field for Sigi Schmid’s first team. Off he went to the Philly Union in their expansion draft and nearly captured an improbably MLS MVP award (of far from it, but you get the picture.)

The nameplates of “Mike ‘Tom Cruise’ Fucito,” “O’Brien White,” and “Patrick Ianni” remain firmly screwed into stalls in the home locker room up in Seattle.

Quite a coup for a number of reasons. First, leverage against Mauro Rosales. A little bit easier if you have depth up front to negotiate with Rosales if he’s a “we’d absolutely love to have him back” player instead of a “must-have, no qualms” player.

Second, flexibility with Fredy Montero. Who knows what Fredy thinks of international prospects. OB White, gives you a hold-up guy in his absence.

Sure Seattle lost John Legend, James Riley on the corner in the back and Tyson Wahl, but both were nice complements rather than necessary starters.

Well played Sounders.

San Jose Earthquake: D

Here’s the thing San Jose. You had to know Jesse March would want a marshall in the back that he was comfortable with. He played with Burling at Chivas USA.

Instead, San Jose left Steve Betlashour protected in a fullback-rich draft and Khari Shephenson who was never going to be picked by the likes of Marsch.

Could have kept all your assets San Jose. And you don’t have many.

Portland Timbers: A

Ryan Pore was great insurance so the Timbers could hold on to a host of encouraging players, like Eric Alexander. The Timbers made their play ahead of the curve.


Chivas USA: D-

There needs to be an investigation launched into the sanity of the front office for HDC’s B Team.

I mean this Seinfeld clip doesn’t even do the lunacy justice:

Chivas “lose” two quality youngsters Zarek Valentin (by selection) and Justin Braun (trade for the aforementioned James Riley).

The Clippers have been the running joke in Southern California for some time. Someone just blew them out of the water.

Colorado Rapids: C

Some explanation for the Rapids leaving selection Sanna Nyassi exposed.

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A Very Happy Thanksgiving To You From TSG

A wonderful day to remember–and thank–everyone that cares about you, makes you better, helps you out.

A happy Thanksgiving to you. A few motion pics here that just seemed appropriate for the day and sentiment.





Below is a list of just some great groups that many others are already thankful for. Please support’em.

TSG encourages you to add your charity, ANY charity in the comment section below. Thank you.

» Street Soccer USA

About: Ending homelessness through sports

Social: Twitter, Facebook, More.

Story on TSG.

» Little Feet in conjunction with the American Outlaws

About: Delivering soccer balls and hope all around the globe.

Story on TSG.

» Soccer Without Borders

About: Using soccer as a vehicle for change in the lives of marginalized youth.

Social: Twitter, Facebook

» Soccer For The Cure

About: Support to cure breast cancer

» Grassroots Soccer

About: Vision a world mobilized by soccer to create an AIDS free generation.

» Play Soccer

About: A unique sports-oriented program that empowers youth to lead change in some of the world’s most-underserved communities.

Champion’s League Live: Milan vs. Barca..Rather Zlatan vs. Pep

There are no undercards today, but despite but might be better quality soccer in Arsenal vs. Dortmund on the day, the main drama to watch is in Group H with Barcelona–with only a short bus ride–head to the San Siro, where Zlatan will again face off against his Spanish nemesis Pep Guardiola.

You wanted to follow along yesterday. So here you go today.

Best buds...

Video: The Beckham View From Across The Pond, Sort Of

Dare I say the game is overtaking these lads?

An overseas video on how Beckham–and MLS–are viewed by dare we say xenophobic pundits.

Interesting here that the two ex-players involved in this exchange has interesting backgrounds:

Dion Dublin played some of his best ball at Coventry in partnership with none other than MLS star Darren Huckerby–he featured for about 15 games at Manchester United but over 140 at Aston Villa as well. Ray Stubbs–perhaps the most critical on the broadcast–never played above League Four I believe in England.

Perhaps the most cutting correspondent is Patrick Barclay–a sportswriter, not ex-player.

This is not take completely antagonist view, but merely to illuminate “credentials.” Whether the critics are right on their review of MLS, the naive approach is one that won’t fly as soccer becomes more and more global.

EPL: Cracking The Code On Premiership Fantasy

Author Devin Pleuler is miles ahead of you when it comes to fantasy “football” preparation…

Wenger's, Le Professeur...but he can't match this.....

It may come as no surprise that in the Fantasy Football competition hosted on the English Premier League’s website, the more a player is worth doesn’t necessarily mean that that player will produce more fantasy points. There are many reasons for this — some obvious, and some not so obvious. Some of the more obvious reasons are things such as injury, suspension and particular players falling out of favor or being constantly rotated (to name a few). While this article provides some small gains by applying some mathematics to this complex system, these gains can be negated by falling behind on the latest club news or even your fellow participant’s sheer luck. While I believe that the transfers that I have made to my fantasy team are very close to optimal, I am guilty of dropping obvious points for these exact reasons.

With the recent release of the blockbuster Moneyball, based on one of my favorite books of all time, it is fitting that we are taking an intimate look at the game’s statistics and trying to determine what stats are good ones, and which ones are misleading.

Perhaps it makes sense to set a goal for this article, since I do not claim to have the mathematical formula that is the holy grail in terms of fantasy football. Instead, we shall aim to create a statistical model that correlates to a player’s total fantasy points much more closely than the player’s fantasy value.

Lastname Team Fantasy Value Fantasy Points Fantasy Points Per Value
Lampard Chelsea 13.0 130 10.0
Fabregas Arsenal 11.7 128 10.9
Gerrard* Liverpool 11.3 88 7.8
Malouda Chelsea 9.7 186 19.2
Kuyt Liverpool 9.7 117 12.1
Van der Vaart Tottenham 8.9 165 18.5
Cahill Everton 8.9 117 13.1
Arshavin Arsenal 8.7 138 15.9
Silva Manchester City 8.6 144 13.3
Young Aston Villa 8.4 160 19.0
Adam Blackpool 6.0 192 32.0

*Gerrard only played in 20 EPL games.


As you can see here, just by listing the top 10 valued midfielders from last year’s competition, you see a very wide array of efficiencies, with Florent Malouda leading the top ten with about 19.2 points per fantasy value unit. However, if we proceed way down to Charlie Adam and his 32 points per fantasy unit value, you begin to realize just how inefficient this player market is.

So, lets do our first regression analysis with fantasy points as the dependant variable and fantasy value as the sole independent variable.



The regression creates a line with an y(Points)-intercept of -26.25 with a slope of 1.65 points per unit value. However, the fit line is not very strong, with R-Squared value around 28%. This is the figure that we are going to look to improve upon by finding better statistics to predict a players expected fantasy point production.

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MLS Protected Lists & Mock Draft

This post by TSG staff

MLS continued it’s full court marketing press by issuing it’s unprotected list just a day after the MLS Cup final.

2012's Jack Jewsbury...

Some fascinating players on the take (for the take?). Here’s a feasible team based upon a balance of “Don’t get blown out” and “Priming for growth.”

Round 1: Zarek Valentin: Chivas, reason please? Not Latino–yes we just wrote that.

Round 2: Mike Fucito: If you’re going to be hucking it over the top, you need someone to chase it down

Round 3: Collen Warner*: Streaking winger; hopefully better than this year’s Sal Zizzo. *That said great trade bait

Round 4: Kyle Nakazawa: Service and steady–maybe sneak him in as a tucked in midfielder or even outside back

Round 5: Michael Boxall: DE! (see RD #8)

Round 6: Chris Birchall, Los Angeles: Starter on a champion? From the British Isle and comfortable playing anywhere? This year’s Jack Jewsbury

Round 7: Eric Alexander: About to realize his potential.

Round 8: Michael Harrington: FENSE!

Round 9: Ross LaBeaux: Highly rated coming out of college. TSG’s sleeper 2010 rookie of the year. Locked behind the dynamic duo. Among LaBeaux, Nakazawa & Birchall–not a bad expansion midfield. And how do you not take a guy whose name means “Beautiful” in French if you’re Montreal. IMPACT!

Round 10: Thomas Heinemann: Need someone up top for Fucito to run off. Since Fucito is taken, can’t take O’Brien White (note: We wouldn’t be surprised if O’Brien White is grabbed by the Impact instead of Fucito). Plus he’d scare the crap out of people on the streets of Montreal.

Avoided a keeper–think we can pick up one–Marcus Hahnemann?–somewhere else.

Can you imagine Fucito and Heinemann rolling down the street by the way. Tom Cruise and the guy from the Geico commercial–please tell me there’s a billboard in there for Montreal.

Bogey: Michael Stephens. The Galaxy are a good team and you’d be inclined to consider Stephens, but if teams aren’t worried about you and you still are challenged with game speed?

Others in contention: Paolo Cardoza, Baggio Husidic, Kosuke Kimura (injury ruled him out)

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Eastbound & Up: MLS Men That Could Thrive In Serie A

Eric Giardini takes a look at where some MLS players might fit in Serie A

Beckham, no surprise, leads the list...

With the end of the MLS playoffs and the beginning of the January transfer window upon us sooner than we realize, this seems as good a time as any to put together a list of current MLS players I think could play, and even flourish, with a move to Serie A. The summer window saw the move of ex-MLSer Michael Bradley and, while I don’t foresee any others following him in the winter, most of the fun of this time of year is prognosticating and making crazy claims in the event that one sticks.

The question was posed to me who I thought could play in Serie A and to be honest I never really had thought about it before. So I thought and thought (and thought) and these are some of the names I came up with. Please keep in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive list as my knowledge of MLS and its players is embarrassingly low – especially in comparison to others who write for TSG, both proper and in the comments.

I’ve divided players according to groups: The Shoo-ins (no brainers), The Potentials (could very well work), and The Wild Cards (have no idea but it’s fun to toss around in your head). For each player there will be a team and a brief description on why it could work.

The Shoo-ins

David Beckham, LA Galaxy to Inter Milan

Even the most ardent Beckham naysayer has to admit that he’s having far and away his best season in America. Bruce Arena seems to have finally found Beckham’s role in the side by giving Beckham the freedom to patrol the midfield basically as he pleases while a second center midfielder (usually in Juninho) provides defensive cover. His 13 assists show that his ability to distribute is still there – especially given the forwards, aside from Landon Donovan, he’s had to work with.

Inter are having a disastrous year. They’re currently languishing near the bottom of Serie A and are already on their second manager. Shockingly, Claudio Ranieri can’t seem figure out the combination in his lineup that will unlock the potential of the squad and continues to live up to his “Tinkerman” nickname. Inter are lacking that player in the midfield that can play distributor alongside Wesley Sneijder. Where Sneijder is able to work the field much in the same manner as a point guard in basketball, Beckham, even in his advanced age, can still hit the pinpoint 40 yard cross field pass which would bring a different wrinkle to the Inter attack. Additionally, by bringing Beckham to the black and blue half of Milan, he brings buzz back to the club. Nobody is discussing Inter in any sort of positive light these days and this move at least gets the club back into the world soccer conversation. Finally, Beckham is comfortable in the Milan. He had a relatively successful time at AC Milan before a freak Achilles injury in March 2010 ended the rest of his loan spell.

Del Piero...westbound...

TRADE: Thierry Henry, NY Red Bulls to Juventus in exchange for Alessandro Del Piero

Fun fact: Thierry Henry already played for the Turin club early in his career and it can best be labeled as a bit of a failure. Playing largely out of position on the wing, he only managed to score 3 goals in 16 appearances before moving to North London. The rest, as they say, is history. Now could be the perfect time for a second-go-round in Italy for Henry. His game has matured over the past 11 years and his best position on the field is more clearly defined now than it was in 1999. It also gives Henry one last chance to capture silverware in the only league that he has played in that he has yet to claim.

In October, Juventus went public and said that it would not be bringing back the face of the club, Alessandro Del Piero, next year when his contract expires. Club president Andrea Agnelli basically said the only reason they gave Del Piero a one-year contract last summer was purely ceremonial as they moved into the new Juventus Stadium. Even at 36, Del Piero still has life in those legs. With the Red Bulls having trouble selling tickets, why not bring one of the most beloved, if not the most, Italian players of this generation to New York/New Jersey. It is almost too perfect.

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