Welcome to Pitch Points, wherein I round up the latest links of interest in the world of Nashville SC, US Soccer, analytics, and more. If you come across something you’d like me to share, e-mail, social media, or the comments here are the ways to bring it to my attention.
Be still my heart. When the social media strategy is on point:
NSC has been criticized at times (sometimes fairly, often by the “nothing can make me happy” cohort or the “I am a Cincinnati fan on the internet and therefore a deep embarrassment to the FCC brand” cohort), but this is 💯 💯 💯.
Front office dudes speakin’. It’s the time of year where we’re devouring any and all interviews with Nashville SC management, and the Tennessean had a pretty good one last week. There was one newsworthy item in this interview with Ian Ayre:
The team will be away for the large part of that period. They’ll arrive (in Nashville) on Jan. 18 and then pretty soon after, disappear down to Florida. They’ll have two segments there – in Florida for a few weeks, then come back for a week and go back there again.
I speculated/hoped NSC would probably be heading down to the Sunshine State for preseason, and lo, it has come to pass. I’d imagine it won’t be long before we get a full preseason schedule, with those starting to trickle out of various MLS front offices. Plenty more from Ian at the link.
General Manager Mike Jacobs also sat down with the official NSC site for similar types of updates.
Tracking data, machine learning, and formations. Y’all should know by now I love this stuff. Using tracking data and clustering to glean information about tactical choices in a game (including formation shifts between offense and defense). Very cool:
In the first half, the Red team played with a 4-3-3 in defence. The pass map of the Blue team indicates that they tended to attack down the flanks in the first half, creating high-quality chances from crosses, particularly from the right wing. At half time the Red team switched to a 5-man defence, with the wing-backs marking the opposing wingers. As the pass map for the second half indicates, the change in formation appears to have been effective in preventing the Blue team creating chances from their right side, with the focus of their passing switching more towards the centre and left of the pitch.
Lots lots more there.
In other “stats are fun” stuff, this lecture on whether a mathematician could be a Premier League manager turned out to be less interesting that I expected, but interesting nonetheless (H/T Soccer Rabbi).
You learn very quickly that MLS coverage is Lazy Analysis Central. US Soccer Players with a primer for Decision Day 2020…
The reigning champions Seattle knocked LAFC out last season in the Western Conference finals. They end this season hosting expansion side Nashville SC. With no offense intended, Nashville’s build for their first season looks like what we’ve seen from Minnesota and Cincinnati when they made their MLS debuts. It’s hard to think that Seattle will be sweating the three points on Decision Day.
Inter Miami is the other new team, finishing the regular season hosting Columbus in Fort Lauderdale. Miami looks stronger than Nashville, but there’s at least one good reason for MLS putting an expansion team in each conference rather than moving an existing Eastern team to the West.
As you recently read here, Cincinnati and Minnesota took drastically different approaches to their initial build, so “like Minnesota and Cincinnati” is essentially meaningless at this point.
In addition, uh, Miami’s build is slowest/worst of the (non-Minnesota) bunch to date! By a wide margin! (Though IMCF starting to play catch-up). Being linked with a bunch of names and signing none of them is apparently the way to have positive buzz, even when your initial roster (and, uh, technical staff) build has baaaaarely cleared the “abject nightmare” bar.
Perhaps they end up better than Nashville. Maybe it’s even likely that happens. But on this day, “looks stronger than Nashville” is what you write when you haven’t even google-dot-commed the teams’ respective signings.
Etc.: NSC hirin’ a street team. Get your application in! … Various reports out of Mexico have linked NSC with Querétaro striker Aké Loba. I’d keep an eye on him. … MLSSoccer.com’s Matt Doyle on the USMNT’s year in review. … NSC defender Jalil Anibaba hosting a skills camp in Sacramento. … Racin’-related update on the Fairgrounds (nothing substantive re: soccer). … This is really old by now (we regret the error), but NSC play-by-play announcer Jon Freeman on the Belmont Athletics podcast.
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