2019 By The Numbers: There's A City In My Mind, Come Along

  • Welcome to NYCFC Forums 2.0. Since completing our upgrade I've had a number of people request to make a donation. If you'd like to Donate you may do so via this Paypal link below. Thank you all for the support and your willingness to cobtribute.
Consider becoming a 'donor' member to help support the forums! Click Here To Upgrade

mgarbowski

Senior Member
Elite Donor
Donor
Seasoned Supporter
Jul 16, 2014
11,532
32,615
353
Queens, NY
mgarbowski.com
Well we know where we're going
But we don't know where we've been


I wish I could tell you that the numbers underlying NYCFC's disappointing performance have gotten much better, or clearly signal a better future. I can report that in the limited data available for 2019 the gap between the record and the underlying data has basically gone away, at least by the best single metric we have. That statistic is the Home/Away adjusted xGoal Differential, and in 2019 (with the disclaimer that I'm waiting on the 2 most recent games), NYCFC has the 13th best H/AxGD at -0.4 , sits 13th in the Supporters Shield standings, and has the 11th best PPG (tied with Orlando). That all pretty much matches.

H/A xGD is the best predictor because math and history tells us so, with thanks to Dummy Run:


I'll "borrow" his graph to make it easier to see:
h-a-xGD-chart.png

In sum, this stat does a better job of predicting future results in MLS than any other rival stat, at least until August. Home/Away adjusted xGoals is a tweak to the regular xGoal stat that adjusts the actual xG earned in any given game to reflect effect of home stadium advantage. The ASA team has not written it up that I can find, but I think it acts as a sort of schedule adjustment, especially valuable if some teams have a significant H/A imbalance early in their season. I'm not quite sure why PPG becomes better than all the others in August. It seems consistent with something I expect most advanced stat people would reject, which is the idea that the ability to achieve game results is somewhat unmoored from both average Goal Differential and xGoals, and it simply takes a few months for that tendency to assert itself. If anything, if the theory that divergences between results and xG is a matter of luck is correct, I would expect the relative predictive advantage of xG to increase over time, not decrease.

But in any event, we are still in relatively early days of the 2019 MLS season. where H/A xGD rules (but still is not particularly great - a correlation coefficient that never reaches 0.5 is not particularly strong). Also, at the end of the day, I find lamentations that a team or player's results do not match their performance unconvincing.

Skip to 1:35

There is a romantic appeal to this scene, in which lifelong minor leaguer and occasional major league catcher discusses how little is the difference between mediocrity and greatness. His math works out. It is roughly just one hit a week that separates a .250 hitter from .300, but really, what Crash is asking for is for luck to go his way all the time. Nobody is entitled to get one cheap hit every week, and nobody is entitled to win more soccer games if they cannot score at least one goal on average at home games. Even with the disastrous last 22 games, Torrent still has a higher average xGD that Patrick Vieira did overall, mostly on the strength of his first 6 games, and I don't care. If anything, I think the team overachieved its xGD under Vieira more than that it is underachieveing its performance under Torrent.

With that prologue, let's look at the usual charts and tables:

Screen Shot 2019-04-28 at 10.40.33 PM.png
The playoff line starts at 44 and would be the second lowest playoff line in the East since MLS went to a 34 game schedule. I expect it to be higher, but it is what it is right now. Also, I'm not going to revise this to include H/A xG - despite what I wrote in the opening - because I think the inclusion of a dozen teams swamps any additional accuracy that H/A xGD might have for one team.

Here is what the team needs to do to achieve some fairly optimistic totals:
Screen Shot 2019-04-28 at 6.48.25 PM.png
Finally, line charts:
Screen Shot 2019-04-28 at 6.48.06 PM.png

Yes, I went back to 2016 and 2015 for comps. I figure that is where we are. Either the team recovers and has a season like 2016, with a weak start featuring too many draws followed by a very solid second half, or it has a non-ambiguous disappointing bad season, for which the only exemplar to date is 2015.

DP Usage Update
NYCFC has never gone a season without at least 1 DP missing 10 or more games. With all 3 DP slots signed before the season started, and none of them injury prone or particularly old, one could hope that streak might end this year. But Jesus Medina has now missed the 2 most recent games per coach's decision and has not played many minutes in the games he has appeared in, averaging only 41 minutes per appearance and 32 minutes over all games.

Draws
The most draws NYCFC has ever had in a season is 9, which it did in both 2016 and 2017. This year there have been 6 ties in the first 9 games. But there is no pace, pattern, or predictability with ties.

A Bit Of History
NYCFC won 1.05 PPG in its first 42 games, then earned 1.82 over the next 81, and now has 1.14 in the most recent 22. So the good times have lasted longer than the bad times to date.
https://citybluesbythenumbers.com/2019/04/29/theres-a-city-in-my-mind-come-along-and-take-that-ride-nycfc-weekly-updates-mls-week-9-april-29-2019/

And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out
 
Last edited:

mgarbowski

Senior Member
Elite Donor
Donor
Seasoned Supporter
Jul 16, 2014
11,532
32,615
353
Queens, NY
mgarbowski.com
East-2019-05-13.png
It's hard to see but that brown line above all others represents both Philadelphia and DC, who have matched each other result-for result at the top for 3 games now. At this point in the season I find the bottom chart more useful for understanding both where everyone is combined with how many games they have played. At the end of next week, NYCFC will have the fewest games played of any team in the East. Right now, only the 2 leaders mentioned above have done better than NYC through 11 games, though Atlanta has a better PPG through 10 games.
2019-05-12 PPG at 11.15.34 PM.png
And also note, that just like that, the East has a better combined PPG than the West, and it's not all Colorado dragging them down. The East now has a slight advantage in the head to head match-up, but where they win the overall PPG is in the middle of the table. The top of the West is doing much better than anybody in the East.

For NYCFC, I don't think many anticipated getting above the blue line so soon after 5 points and no wins in the first 6 games. The how-do-we-get-to table also looks more reasonable, with that elusive 60-something neighborhood looking possible (not probable but possible) for the first time in a while.

2019-05-12 TBD at 11.15.47 PM.png
Finally, another 6 or so games of good underlying data, good form and good results, and I'll consider replacing 2015 in the year-to-year line graphs:
2019-05-12 Graphs at 11.16.05 PM.png
2016 remains an apt comparison, and the lines act as a reminder that after the initial bad start with way too many home draws, NYCFC recovered with 3 straight wins, only to slide back down with 2 points in 4 games that included the RB Wedding and a dispiriting home loss to a weak RSL side. Whether the 2019 edition does anything similar is not necessarily dispositive of anything, but my sense is they end up somewhere in the same mid-50 point neighborhood, however they get there.

"I'm a brand new sky"
 

Gotham Gator

Senior Member
Donor
Feb 9, 2015
9,604
19,632
353
53
Bronxville, NY
Great stuff, as usual.

One concept I am turning over in my mind. We can look at the first third of the season to evaluate how good or bad we are and to project how the last two-thirds will play out. When we do that, our point total probably understates how well we've been playing. This is because we've had an unusual number of ties; we've had 6, which is at least twice as many as all but three other teams in the league (those others have 4).

As we all know, tying games leaves a team with fewer points than if that team had split the same games 50-50 between wins and losses. However, I would posit that a team that ties its first 4 games has performed equally well as a team that won 2 and lost 2.

If we had split our 6 ties between wins and losses, we would have 3 more points for 21 points on 11 games and have a PPG of 1.91. Now, we can't just plug that into the table above to check our standing since other teams have ties that can be eliminated, but if we normalize for the teams in the East - i.e. award each 1.5 points fir a tie instead of 1.0 point, you get the below standings.

PHI: 24 points, 12 games, 2.00 PPG
DCU: 24 points, 12 games, 2.00 PPG
NYC: 21 points, 11 games, 1.91 PPG
ATL: 18 points, 10 games, 1.8 PPG
CHI: 18 points, 12 games, 1.67 PPG
TOR: 16.5 points, 10 games, 1.65 PPG
MON: 21 points, 13 games, 1.62 PPG
===
NJR: 14 points, 11 games, 1.36 PPG
CLB: 16.5 points, 13 games, 1.27 PPG
ORL: 12.5 points, 11 games, 1.23 PPG
CIN: 12 points, 12 games, 1.00 PPG
NER: 12 points, 13 games, 0.92 PPG

This analysis tends to help us, obviously, but also Chicago too, who look much better than the 1.33 PPG and 7th place spot they have without adjusting for ties.

To be clear, the points that we, Chicago, and others have lost to ties in the first third of the season are not coming back. The average team in the East has 2.4 ties so far, so our figure of 6 ties has cost us 1.8 points compared to the average team. However, there is no reason to expect that we will keep finishing with draws at the same rate over the course of the season, so there is hope that we will get a little improvement along the way.
 

mgarbowski

Senior Member
Elite Donor
Donor
Seasoned Supporter
Jul 16, 2014
11,532
32,615
353
Queens, NY
mgarbowski.com
"Up to par and Katie bars" There were 16 games in MLS this week which meant lots of teams played twice, but NYCFC had the week off. It turned into a case of move forward by standing still. Midweek, the only East conference team to win was Atlanta, who won their fifth straight by shutout, setting a new record. All other Eastern teams either lost or split points (Toronto and DC). Then came the weekend and the trend continued, as East teams drew or lost with two exceptions:
  • The Red Bulls beat Atlanta while down to 10 men for most of the game, a result which was probably for the best, given the location and current position and trends for both teams (setting aside the always preferred draw); and
  • Orlando handily beat Cincinnati, which is not ideal but not particularly troublesome either.
At the top of the Table, Toronto and DC both got just 1 point out of 6, Philadelphia and Montreal both 1 of 3 at home, and Atlanta did the best with a middling 3 of 6. The only teams to improve their PPG were below the playoff line last week on the PPG table (and the Revolution only improved by earning 1 point because their PPG is so low).

Screen Shot 2019-05-21 at 7.43.13 AM.png
NYCFC did not move in position yet its PPG relative to almost everyone else improved. Also, NYC now has played fewer games than everyone in the conference, which is a mixed blessing but definitely an opportunity.

East-2019-05-20.png

NYCFC now controls its own place in the final season standings, which simply means they can guarantee they finish first if they somehow win all their remaining games. That's more than highly unlikely, but also was not true last week or most of the year. The point is that NYCFC received a lot of help this week and now the team has to take advantage of it.

"Don't waste your time, sitting still."
 
Last edited:

canchon

Active Member
Seasoned Supporter
Aug 11, 2015
2,323
7,192
273
43
Brooklyn, NY
RBNJ drew tonight at home. NYCFC now sits with the fewest games played by far and has an opportunity to move up the table by taking points with their games in hand.

Games in hand can be fools gold though. While other teams are grinding out 3 game weeks, NYCFC will have to do this later in the season.
 

mgarbowski

Senior Member
Elite Donor
Donor
Seasoned Supporter
Jul 16, 2014
11,532
32,615
353
Queens, NY
mgarbowski.com
"We're Going To Play Until There's A Winner And A Loser "
In 2017-18, MLS teams averaged 7.7 draws per season. NYCFC now has 7 in its first 12 games in 2019. Ties are statistically weird. They seem to follow no patterns. In 2017 Montreal had 6 draws in the first 14 games and none the rest of the year. in 2016 New England had 7 in the first 10 games and 2 in the last 24 games. Teams with high draw counts sit pretty evenly on both sides of the playoff line. They are certainly not a bar to success: the 2017 MLS Cup featured Toronto with 9 draws against Seattle with 11. The 2015 Rapids finished last with 10 draws and the 2016 Rapids finished second with 13 draws.

The conventional, and largely correct, wisdom, is that a draw at home is 2 points lost while a draw on the road is a point won. So perhaps the most disheartening fact about NYC's draws to date is that NYC has 4 home ties and 3 away. So why did the Week 13 draw against Chicago seem so disappointing? Part of it is the sheer number of draws to date, combined with a sense that NYC should be better than its record (whether due to the coach or other factors), and the sense that NYCFC had seemed to turn a corner, and drawing with an opponent many think is inferior seems to be a step backwards. But it's also true that winning on the road is tough in MLS and NYCFC came into this game with a 3-game winning streak in Away games. Breaking that with a listless draw beats the alternative.
Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 8.34.26 AM.png
I posted this next paragraph in another thread but think it makes sense to repeat it here.
Despite the draw, and a slight decrease in NYCFC's PPG, it again improved its position relative to a large number of East conference rivals, largely because the East went 0-6-1 against the West this week. In the last 2 weeks the East has 1 win, 11 losses, and 2 draws against the West. NYCFC played none of those games. 10 of them were played in the West, but that's a lot of good results for NYC. Nine more interconference games on tap next week with some more favorable matchups for the East. Meanwhile, NYCFC has a lot of interconference games remaining. So far the team is 1-0-2 against the West (1H2A) with draws against LAFC and Minnesota, and the LAG win. In the remaining games we are home to Seattle, Portland, SKC, Houston and San Jose; Away to Colorado, RSL, Vancouver and Dallas.

Here is the table of examples of what NYC needs to do to reach various point values.
Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 8.44.11 AM.png
Barring another 7-goal loss debacle, NYC's goal differential in 2019 should be significantly higher than 2016, which still seems the best analogue.

Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 8.34.48 AM.png

If you look at every team's point total through the 12 games NYCFC has played, NYC (19) is behind DC and Philadelphia at 23, Atlanta and Montreal at 20. But those team have managed very little with the games they have played beyond 12:

Atlanta 0 points in 1 game
DC 2 points in 3 games
Montreal 1 point in 3 games
Philadelphia 1 point in 2 games

The opportunity is there.
East-2019-05-27.png
 

mgarbowski

Senior Member
Elite Donor
Donor
Seasoned Supporter
Jul 16, 2014
11,532
32,615
353
Queens, NY
mgarbowski.com
I mentioned Philly's schedule in the Week 14 thread and decided to do a quick overall update. Measured by adjusted H/A PPG, the Union have played the easiest schedule in the East, and Cincinnati played the toughest. NYCFC has the next hardest schedule to date. Here's the full East list, ordered by current PPG (which isn't shown) then showing opponents' PPG to Date, followed by future opponents' PPG.

schedulePPG.PNG

ETA: I realized I was carrying Portland as a 0.00 Home PPG, which deflated the future schedule strength of the six teams who play Portland in Portland. I adjusted it to assume Portland earns the league average 1.75 PPG at home and those 6 teams saw their future schedule strength go up by 0.09 to 0.10. They are noted in Green.
 
Last edited:

Gotham Gator

Senior Member
Donor
Feb 9, 2015
9,604
19,632
353
53
Bronxville, NY
What the hell was the Union doing there? BTW, in games not played against Cincinnati (2), Columbus or New England, the Union PPG is 1.18. You have to beat the bad teams. That's more than NYC has done to be fair, but they have had a bit of a cupcake schedule so far.

ETA: The bit about the Union defense is not meant to take away from Lewis's effort. A nice volley is a nice volley.
(responding here to a post from another thread, because I think this is the better place for it)

To be fair, those 3 teams that Philly has feasted upon are currently the last 3 teams (22 through 24) in the Power Rankings. Colorado is next at #21. So, New England has played 5 of 7 games against the bottom 4, and we have played 0 of 7. Now, we have played the #20 team (Orlando) twice with 2 draws, and we've played the #18 team twice, with a draw and a win. That's 6 points in our 4 easiest games, or 1.5/game - about where we are in all our games.

If you split the Power Rankings into quartiles, here is how NYC and PHI break out.

Q'tile - NYC - PHI (games/points)
1 - - - 1/1 - - 3/2
2 - - 4/8 - - 1/0
3 - - 5/9 - - 5/10
4 - - 2/2 - - 6/13
 

mgarbowski

Senior Member
Elite Donor
Donor
Seasoned Supporter
Jul 16, 2014
11,532
32,615
353
Queens, NY
mgarbowski.com
NYCFC is the only team to date with a better PPG Away than at Home (1.71/1.40).* The average Home PPG is 1.75 and Away is 0.99 which is an average difference of 0.76 better at home.

LAFC is tied with NYCFC for best Away PPG at 1.71. Worst Away is SKC at 0.40. LAFC is best at home with 2.75. Worst at Home is Colorado at 0.71.


* Portland has no home games yet
 

dummyrun

Active Member
Elite Donor
Jan 2, 2018
1,110
4,723
233
Brooklyn, NY
I mentioned Philly's schedule in the Week 14 thread and decided to do a quick overall update. Measured by adjusted H/A PPG, the Union have played the easiest schedule in the East, and Cincinnati played the toughest. NYCFC has the next hardest schedule to date. Here's the full East list, ordered by current PPG (which isn't shown) then showing opponents' PPG to Date, followed by future opponents' PPG.

View attachment 9829
You might like this.

 
  • Like
Reactions: mgarbowski and adam

mgarbowski

Senior Member
Elite Donor
Donor
Seasoned Supporter
Jul 16, 2014
11,532
32,615
353
Queens, NY
mgarbowski.com
I'm fully down the rabbit hole of schedule strength. I know I'm long past the point where it really sheds light about anything, but I still enjoy what I'm noticing:
  • The teams with the 4 best Home records to date by PPG are LAFC, Seattle, Houston, and the Galaxy. NYC does not play the first 3 in their stadiums this year (lucky for us), and already beat LAG at LAG.
  • The teams with the 4 best Away records to date are LAFC, NYC, DCU, and LAG. NYC cannot play itself, and has already hosted those other 3.
  • In contrast, NYC still has Away games against the teams with the 3 worst Home records: New England, Cincinnati, and Colorado. NYC also has Home games against the tams with the 3 worst Away records: Columbus, New England, and SKC.
These comprise most of the reasons NYC has one of the easiest schedules left, on paper, as measured by opponent PPG, and as of now.
 

adam

Senior Member
Elite Donor
Donor
Seasoned Supporter
May 30, 2014
7,571
17,842
353
41
LBNY
I'm fully down the rabbit hole of schedule strength. I know I'm long past the point where it really sheds light about anything, but I still enjoy what I'm noticing:
  • The teams with the 4 best Home records to date by PPG are LAFC, Seattle, Houston, and the Galaxy. NYC does not play the first 3 in their stadiums this year (lucky for us), and already beat LAG at LAG.
  • The teams with the 4 best Away records to date are LAFC, NYC, DCU, and LAG. NYC cannot play itself, and has already hosted those other 3.
  • In contrast, NYC still has Away games against the teams with the 3 worst Home records: New England, Cincinnati, and Colorado. NYC also has Home games against the tams with the 3 worst Away records: Columbus, New England, and SKC.
These comprise most of the reasons NYC has one of the easiest schedules left, on paper, as measured by opponent PPG, and as of now.
The Rapids are undefeated at home since Dark Horse MVP Jonah has been starting for them.
 

canchon

Active Member
Seasoned Supporter
Aug 11, 2015
2,323
7,192
273
43
Brooklyn, NY
I haven’t done the math, but I think NYCFC must have the best away PPG in the league. They’ve also had only 5 home games compared to most teams that have had 8. If they convert these home game points in hand, will be right there at the top of the EC.
 

mgarbowski

Senior Member
Elite Donor
Donor
Seasoned Supporter
Jul 16, 2014
11,532
32,615
353
Queens, NY
mgarbowski.com
Man Looks In The Abyss
"We all see what we want to see. Coffey looks and he sees Russians. He sees hate and fear. You have to look with better eyes than that."

Twice as many Draws as Wins.
Haven't lost since March

Only 1 Home Win.
Took 11 of the most recent 15 possible Away points.

Draws with Orlando, Columbus and Chicago, each below the playoff line.
Wins over DC, the Galaxy, and Montreal, each over the playoff line.

In the last few games Domé has reverted to mindless tinkering.
In the last few games Domé has shown some intelligent and bold tactical flexibility.

We're really relying too much on low-percentage wonder goals.
Players are stepping up and creating something out of nothing when the team needs it.

It has been a frustrating 10 months to be a NYCFC fan. After Domé Torrent took over and won 5 of his first 6 games as coach, the club went into a tailspin, winning just 3 of the next 19 regular season games across 2 years. Then when things seemed to start to turn around, with a W-W-T-W-W sequence, the club goes and draws twice against struggling Chicago and Columbus.

But the tepid upswing has to be measured against a schedule that gave NYCFC 6 Away games in its next 9 just as it started to play better. In a league where teams collectively are currently earning 0.63 more points per game at Home than Away, you cannot expect to compile Away points too consistently. As it is, NYCFC is the only team with a better road PPG than at home, largely due to this scheduling quirk.

If you expect certainty to come soon, there's even more frustration on the horizon. The next 4 games are at Home, so one would expect that to answer some questions. If NYC piles up some wins, all is well. If not, abandon hope. Right? Except NYCFC will be probably missing the following players on international duty for some or all of those games: Johnson, Callens, Chanot, Ofori, Matarrita, and Parks. Plus Matarrita's backup Ben Sweat was hurt Saturday and his status is uncertain. On top of that, the schedule is not at all evenly spaced, with a game this week, followed by a 3-week layoff (excluding a US Open Cup against USL side NC FC), and then 3 games in 8 days, so there will be both rust and fatigue, with limited rotation options due to the missing players. All of that means any stumbles by the team come with a pre-packaged excuse. On the other side, a win over Seattle during this stretch would likely come while they are without key contributors Lodeiro and Ruidiaz, so if you want to dismiss some NYCFC success you have that as fodder. And a win in the US Open Cup can be dismissed as against a lower league opponent.

It took a while to sort out but the competition this year is coming into focus and seems to be spread out: Atlanta, DC, Red Bulls, and Philadelphia, with no single, or even pair of teams standing out. Can Toronto climb into this group with a healthy Jozy?

East-2019-06-04.png

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 7.38.23 AM.png

How many more draws is it reasonable to project at this point. The record is 18 by a bad Chicago Fire side in 2014. They also had 8 after just 13 games.
Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 7.36.43 AM.png
I'm not too concerned at being below the blue line right now because of the schedule. NYCFC has a chance to compile points and improve it's PPG against easier games starting now. Whether it does, well, ...
Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 7.36.06 AM.png
For the record, I look at NYCFC and expect the same thing I did at the start of the season. I think the team will finish with 52-29 points, probably have a first round Home playoff game, but not advance beyond that round. Even if they play Away in the 4-5 game they have a decent chance of winning that. But absent a major acquisition in the summer window they are a longshot to win the East, and even moreso, the MLS Cup. It's possible, but very unlikely. In the end, they seem to be the same level team we have seen starting in 2016.



"-- At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.
-- I think I understand Lou."
 
Last edited: