Thorns FC: Big

It’s been easy to piss and moan about how this season has gone for Thorns FC.  I know.  I have.  I’ve complained about the team’s strange inability to put away the bottom of the table.  Griped about the defensive lapses, the yips and the missed chances.  Bemoaned the lost opportunities, and the blighted hopes.

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Aside: Networking in New England

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This represents the successful passes between players, with the thicker the line, the more passes. x and o represens shots at goal (x for off target/blocked by defender, o for on target) with the lighter colors being Portland’s shots. By pairing this data with the average position during the match, taken from MLS heatmaps, you can start to get a sense of the flow of the team’s play. Here you can see how the introduction of Nagbe dramatically changed the shape of Portland’s place, with comparatively little going down the right side in the second half.

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Six Degrees: Most Valuable

Diego Valeri is making a case for league MVP. So often, it’s the goalscorers who win these awards, the guys with 20+ goals. But I’m partial to the guys who load up on both goals and assists. Guys like Robbie Keane. Like Fabian Espindola. Like El Maestro de Portland. He is a player at the height of his powers. He had the game-winning assist in the All-Star Game. He’s scored in four straight. He’s making it look effortless. Continue reading