A couple of weeks ago, I counted the scoring chances for the Vancouver Whitecaps - Montreal Impact opener at BC Place. I asked for your input and you delivered. Thank you all.
There was wide consensus was that the definition of a scoring chance was too subjective: I said a scoring chance was "a clear-cut individual opportunity to score a goal in a situation where, had the shot gone in, it would not have been considered 'spectacular'," which is highly subjective. I agree with this criticism. However, I haven't been able to come up with any objective way of counting chances that wouldn't leave out a lot of good opportunities or add a lot of bad ones.
I'm indebted to Chris Withers for brainstorming with me on the matter, and particularly his providing the definition of a "big chance" as used by soccer statistics mavens Opta: "A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range."
So, like my own definition, subjective as balls.
The best way for scoring chances to be a useful and meaningful measurement rather than interesting trivia is for multiple people to compile them. If I award the Whitecaps four chances in one game, somebody awards them five, and somebody else awards them three, we get a clearer picture than if I just award them four. So if any of you think I'm insane and want to show me how wrong I am, please, be my guest!
Anyway, onto Chivas USA - Vancouver Whitecaps on March 17, which was a dreadful game that looks dreadful even in table form.
|Time||Team||CF||CC||Home Players||Away Players||Notes|
|41st minute: VAN out 1 in 18|
|First half: chances CHV 3, VAN 2|
|62nd minute: CHV out 22 in 17|
|62nd minute: CHV out 14 in 58|
|71st minute: VAN out 37 in 3|
|74th minute: CHV out 6 in 21|
|82nd minute: VAN out 20 in 26|
|Second half: chances CHV 1, VAN 2|
|Final: chances CHV 4, VAN 4|
The chance count was low: eight combined versus fifteen combined the previous week against Montreal. Both Vancouver and Chivas were active trying to cross the ball, but neither had any success. While Brad Knighton did great work against the Chivas attack from the beginning of the second half until Jay DeMerit's goal, it was mostly by playing sweeper keeper and grabbing potential chances rather than stopping actual ones.
The early game went distinctly Chivas's way and I don't think the 3-2 advantage in the first half does the Goats justice. Chivas's chances were better: while Sebastien Le Toux and Davide Chiumiento both had very good opportunities at close range the failed to get a shot off, while Casey Townsend forced the Save of the Week out of Joe Cannon and Ryan Smith had two opportunities every bit as good as the ones the Whitecaps got.
It's fascinating that Chivas substituted Smith and Townsend off relatively early. Paul Dolan approved on the Sportsnet broadcast, saying neither had done much, but we can see a) that between them they accounted for three of Chivas's four chances, including their two best ones, and b) after those two came out, Chivas didn't produce a damned thing.
The Whitecaps had several near-chances around the hour mark, although only one opportunity worthy of writing down, and then Jay DeMerit headed in his goal and went bananas. From that point on, the Whitecaps bunkered like hell: Jordan Harvey and Floyd Franks came on and offense, except on counters, stopped. I bet the Goats had 80% of the possession from DeMerit's goal until the final whistle.
Didn't do them much good, as we can see. This was a case of a team without many attacking resources that was unable to break down a disciplined eleven-man defense. Their one opportunity late was barely a chance; a low cross from Zemanski that Minda rather adroitly got a head to. He was in a good position but a poor situation: having to crouch to head the ball and rather neatly marked by Martin Bonjour (who wound up deflecting the header out of play). I've seen forwards in that position explode into the ball and get goals, but it was the weakest chance of the game.
The game was a dud and once Vancouver got the lead their passivity worked wonders. I'm not sure they could pull that against a better team, but for one week it basically did the job.