Daily news roundups

News roundup: Jones the problem?, Puppies the problem?, AC Milan sold, and more

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Philadelphia Union

A detailed look at tonight’s 7PM game against NYCFC.

Back to beating the stats drum, the Audi Player Index, much like xG, is a stat that tells something, but withholds the components or calculations. As such, it is impossible to know what it is actually measuring or how. If it is at all accurate, though, maybe Derrick Jones is a problem, not a solution. According to the stat, he’s been one of the absolute worst starting midfielders in the league this year. I’d love to compare it to how Carroll and Creavalle performed at the position last year, but hey, that data’s not available either. Let’s move on before I write another 1,500 words on this.

Reading between the lines, Giliano Wijnaldum has been a failed signing.

Poor decisions, not puppies, are to blame for Union’s struggles. The Union may be struggling, but the headline writers are still bringing their A game.


The Union Academy’s string of incredible results finally came to a halt as they lost 2-0 to Tigres UANL in the Generation adidas Cup. You can watch the full game here.

Brendan Burke’s weekly conference call for BSFC.


All the storylines for this weekend’s games, including the mounting pressure on the Union to just win a game.

A good article on how many successful MLS teams are using “verticality” to enhance their attacks.

Dominic Oduro talks about life as the most traded man.

In the weekly Power Rankings roundup, the Union are down to 21st, just barely staying ahead of Minnesota.

Around the globe

The USL has launched a “television network” that will allow USL games to air on local TV in 17 markets, including Bethlehem.

It looks like there will be a second Women’s mini-tournament, with the USWNT set to host Brazil, Japan, and Australia this Summer.

More on the Dortmund bombing, where the investigation is ongoing. Marc Bartra is out 4 weeks as a result of the attack.

Silvio Berlusconi has sold AC Milan to a Chinese-led consortium.

Lyon fans went on to the pitch after visiting Besiktas fans rained projectiles and firecrackers down on them. Lyon got the last laugh though, as Besiktas’ keeper made a terrible error and allowed a late winner.

A Club Tijuana reserve player was arrested in possession of meth. Lots and lots of meth.

Highlight of the day

Anderlecht gets a late equalizer against Manchester United. That’s not the highlight. Mourinho’s face is.


  1. Back to beating the stats drum, the Audi Player Index, much like xG, is a stat that tells something, but withholds the components or calculations.
    Hmmm…. I vaguely recall a story from the preseason that talked about the Player Index being a more open stat this year. I may have to go looking for that now.
    Let’s move on before I write another 1,500 words on this.
    I’d read it.

    • Here we go – found it. From the March 3rd news roundup: http://www.mlssoccer.com/post/2017/03/02/audi-player-index-whats-new-2017-and-who-could-stand-out-friday
      The Audi Player Index is back for the 2017 season and not without some improvements. Forty different component scores have been revised after extensive testing, which have helped to equalize the points across all positions with fewer points awarded for goals.

      Another key change is the added component of factoring in game states. Match-winning and match-equalizing goals will now be awarded more points than goals that don’t have that effect on matches.

      Also, the points awarded for specific actions are available for all to see. Each player has a full breakdown of their points in every Matchcenter.

      And, sure enough, if you go to the Matchcenter, one of the tabs across the top is “Audi Index.” This, for example, is last week’s vs Portland: https://matchcenter.mlssoccer.com/matchcenter/2017-04-08-philadelphia-union-vs-portland-timbers/audi-index
      If we go to the “full list view” instead of the dumb graphic they show, we can see that Medunjanin was the highest-scoring player for either team, with a score of 586. We can see that Andre Blake was the lowest-scoring player, at -245. (Letting in three goals does that, I guess.)
      If we click on a player’s name, we can see the breakdown. For example, Medunjanin’s assist was worth 238 points. His 24 successful passes in his own half are worth a total of 72 points. His one interception is worth 30 points. And so on. He lost points for things such as unsuccessful corners, fouls committed, yellow card received, unsuccessful passes, and more.
      Now, all that said… they STILL still aren’t consistent with what an event is worth. Medunjanin lost 75 points for his yellow card, but Blake lost 80 points for his. Diego Valeri’s assist is worth the same as Medunjanin’s, so there’s some consistency there it seems.
      So, it seems some of the data is there. And maybe there’s a reason Blake’s yellow is more costly than Medunjanin’s, that could be figured out through some reverse engineering. And to answer Pete’s question below, it does seem to be based on Opta stats, given this statement on the page: “Audi Player Index scores are subject to change based on final analytics received from OPTA.”

      • Adam Schorr says:

        God, that system is a mess. I would not rely on it for anything. That’s a terrible system all around. But also, if they’re giving the numbers game by game on the site, why can’t they give us the aggregate numbers on the site somewhere? Why can’t I find a sortable (or even better, downloadable) table with all of these stats somewhere?
        But like, you look at Blake, and you realize just how silly this system is. He lost 275 for the conceding a PK. He lost 35 as a result of the foul. He lost 80 for the yellow card for the foul. And he lost 75 for allowing the PK, which, remember, PKs are successful 79% of the time on average. So he lost 465 points for one mistake. If he had just gotten out of the way and let Mattocks dribble it into the net, or if he was just beaten (aka if he had just missed on his desperation challenge), he would have lost…75 points. And if he wins the challenge, he would have gotten something like 50 points (not sure exactly in this system). Does that seem at all even remotely reasonable? Of course not. The difference between fouling and failing completely was almost 400 points.
        Meanwhile, Fabinho, whose fault it was entirely for the goal, got -25 for an Aerial Duel lost on the play. So Fabinho screws up, gets -25. Blake, in a disadvantageous position, can’t cover for Fabinho’s mistake and gets -465. In what universe does that make any sense?
        Still, thanks for pointing out that some of this data does exist. The API score itself is useless, but the component data is useful.

    • (Can somebody with The Power approve my post that’s pending moderation? 🙂 )

    • Old Soccer Coach. says:

      I’d read it, also, Adam.

  2. Audi Player Index…. Is that generated by OPTA at all? Or is it just a bunch of BS?

    • Adam Schorr says:

      Why do you say “or”? It’s generated by OPTA *and* a bunch of BS. Basically the only thing OPTA makes available are composite stats without releasing either the component stats or the formula, so what we’re left with is “somebody or some group of people mashed some vague numbers together in some vague way to get some other vague number”. That ain’t useful.

      • Good point, although I don’t think OPTA’s numbers are bad, they’re just “for sale” so civilians don’t have access. I just don’t know where the API comes from. Does MLS put it together?

      • Adam Schorr says:

        No, it’s entirely OPTA-based. Their logo is all over the API site on the MLS site.

  3. http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/thegoalkeeper/Philadelphia-Union-Earnie-Stewart-pressure-Jim-Curtin-not-fair.html
    I personally like this stance on Curtin. Yes, the team and Curtin’s decisions are incredibly frustrating and it’s tough to watch at times, but I really am encouraged by periods of play that the Union have had in different matches this season.
    I like Jim. I am willing to give him a longer leash because he is young and inexperienced. I want to see growth from him and am willing to go through rough periods along the way. I feel the same way about playing young players. I know this isn’t the case for a lot of people and I respect people who’re spending their hard earned money want to see as high a quality of product as possible.
    I appreciate the journey (positives and negatives) because it’s going to make lifting that first trophy even sweeter whenever that day comes.

    • Adam Schorr says:

      Fire Earnie. The only conclusion to be taken from that is that Earnie is delusional, incompetent, and flat-out stupid. Sadly, the only conclusion to be taken from pretty much all of Earnie’s moves has been the same. Time to go back to the drawing board.

    • Key quote: “And we ask of a club – I myself ask Jim – to do certain things. Because this is our direction, this is who we are, and this is who we want to be for the future.”
      First, there is always more going on than we see. (That’s a good thing.) We don’t know the details behind the “things” referenced by Stewart.
      With that, I assume one of two general scenarios:
      (1) He’s saying supportive things publically, but there really is a short leash.
      (2) There is agreement that the organization is willing to wait for the entire organization to mature over time as Curtin and the academy grow together.
      The very serious challenge with the second scenario is that fans want to see trajectory toward the beautiful game and results on the pitch… a sustained 90 minutes of this… week to week… progress… improvement… show me… quickly.

  4. Life’s not fair Simba.
    Look at it another way, it’s been entirely fair in Curtin’s favor that he got this shot to begin with. No other (zero) team in MLS would have hired Curtin 3 years ago (was Chivas gone then? Ok). He has is into his fourth season here, that’s a body of work that maybe some D1 NCAA program or NASL/USL side or maybe an MLS expansion team looking for an asst would appreciate. And the experience he’s gotten is very fair to his CV.
    But, the time has come the walrus said, to talk of firing the manager…or something like that.

  5. Tonight’s starting 11: Elliot replaces Gooch. Alberg slides Bedoya to the 8, which displaces Jones. The left side stays as-is.

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