Nashville SC: Taking mini-stock with some stats

Be back soon, pls.

Things are going pretty well in Nashville this USL season – not perfectly by any stretch, but pretty well. There are still a couple items of interest in terms of the squad’s potential struggles.

First, the defensive fate with Ken Tribbett unavailable. Here’s a chart of Nashville SC’s defensive performances (as evaluated by the Pure Power system) over the course of the season. The red dots are the four games in which Tribbett, a centerback, has been unavailable.

Positive numbers are bad (more scoring for the opponent), negatives are good:

Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 9.00.40 AM.png

Nashville SC has had seven below-average defensive performances this season (one of which – the 1-0 loss to Saint Louis FC in the second game of the year – is practically average, and was actually better than average until STLFC’s recent struggles). Four of those have come without Tribbett in the lineup – red dots on the graph.

Breaking it down even further, two of the negative games with him in the lineup – that hump in the middle of May – include a 5-1 win over Swope Park, with the lone Swope goal coming with the game already decided (Nashville SC led 4-0 in the 60th minute), and probably the lone truly bad defensive game with Tribbett available: a 1-1 draw at home against Charlotte Independence.

It’s clear that Tribbett’s availability has been a major key to the success of this team. Given that he hasn’t played in more than a month with a calf injury, hopefully his return to full health is nigh. Nashville SC also signed a loan deal with San Jose Earthquakes CB Jimmy Ockford yesterday, so maybe a different reinforcement can help shore up the D.

Here’s another interesting topic (and one I’ve discussed in the past): Nashville SC’s quality of performance is pretty variable based upon the number of days of rest the team gets.

Take a look at the performances (again by Pure Power, this time the full game score, not just the defense) as broken down by number of days between games – league games only:

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The majority of games have come with seven days between (this makes sense: teams generally play Saturdays). However, with midweek games, US Open Cup gaps, etc., there have been six other lengths between consecutive league games: as few as three days, s many as 15.

Nashville’s best games have come on long rest – a pretty positive indicator for tomorrow’s Memphis game, which will be the first 11-day gap of the year – and they’ve been reasonably good on short rest, too. What’s odd is that the team seems to struggle with seven-day gaps. That’s probably not a good thing, given that’s going to be the most common window!

Five out of the team’s six below-average performances have come on seven days’ rest, while they’ve had five above-average outings in that same cohort. In all other games, they’ve had seven above-average and just one below-average game as scored by Pure Power. There are other confounding factors here, but it does seem like there’s some form of inefficiency to the standard game-week preparation when there’s the typical seven-day period to prepare.

Here’s the last one (I shared it on Twitter earlier this morning), and it’s less specific to Nashville SC. The Eastern Conference’s Pure Power as compared to Table Power ratings:

Screen Shot 2019-07-14 at 10.png

There’s actually a very nice straight line there (the R2 value is .858), and teams aren’t particularly far from the line of best fit in any individual case – I know the logo shapes make it tough to tell precisely, but Charlotte, Indy, and Ottawa are basically right on the line.

The teams above the line are over-achieving on the table (you know, the thing that actually counts at the end of the year) in comparison to how they’ve been performing on the field in terms of goals for/against (adjusted for strength of opposition). The teams below the line are slightly underachieving. To put it another – likely more accurate – way, the teams above have gotten a bit of good luck in the results compared to their overall performances, whereas those below have suffered a bit of bad luck.

In the second half of the season, look for Pittsburgh and Memphis (among others) to get slightly better results if their performances remain consistent, while Tampa and Birmingham seem to be among those most primed for a bit of a slide.

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