When my metal hip set off the barrier at Gate 3 Saturday morning I had more on my mind than worrying about that usual nuisance.
I was worried about the Thorns’ recent run of poor form going into a match with the league leaders and that that might lead to yet another loss just like this season’s first meeting or, worse, like last season’s semifinal.
I was worried that the center referee’s penchant for letting rough play go would play into the North Carolina Courage’s physical game and get into the Thorns’ heads as it had in the past.
I was worried that a blowout loss might be lights-out for the Thorns’ 2017 season.
When I walked back out that afternoon I was right about one thing; Koroleva sure did let ’em play. You can argue about whether that’s good or bad. But that’s how she usually calls her games, and she didn’t change that day.
But I was wrong; deliciously, gloriously, wonderfully wrong about everything else.
I wanted to post this just because I thought you readers might be interested in seeing behind the scenes of the glamorous soccer-blogging lifestyle. It’s not just hanging out with the players in trendy nightclubs or hob-nobbing with the wealthy owners.
Sometimes it’s all about the boring, dry stats, baby. Stuff like this:
That’s from the OPTA stats on the Timber’s match against San Jose back in early June.
OPTA has tons of this sort of great stuff; heat maps, player actions, average team position…while I won’t pretend that “stats tell the story” it helps to get a big picture of a team or a player’s actions, successful or otherwise, to get some sort of sense beyond just your feeling “Gee, seems like Kat Reynolds is getting beat a lot” or “Is Chara pushing up more in the second half, or an I just seeing him more there than when he drops deep?”
As you know, I’ve been using Richard Hamje’s “plus-minus” ratings this season to try and give you a sense of what the Thorns are doing on the pitch.
Actually, I keep more notes that I give you here; the basic numerical PMRs are just the Clif’s Notes version, the digested form, if you will.
(I have no idea whether you care about how I do this, but I’ve come this far so bear with me for a moment and I’ll tell you what goes into these little bunches of numbers.