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Behind the Numbers: A Look Back at the Vancouver Whitecaps 2019 MLS Season Part II

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MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps dreadful 2019 campaign came to a conclusion on October 6th. Shortly after, we had a look behind the numbers to see just how bad of a season it was. Spoiler alert: it was really bad. At the conclusion of that article I asked what statistics from this past season you were most curious to learn more about. You came up with some excellent suggestions. We now have a bit of a lull in the Caps news, so I thought I would pass along what I found.

One website that I rely on heavily to report statistics is WhoScored.com. Unfortunately, for the past few weeks, the website has been displaying an error when retrieving data.

I tried to wait it out but eventually I had to give up and move on to another source. Luckily, there are some great statistical resources available on Major League Soccer. One of the best, which we use often is AmericanSoccerAnalysis.com (ASA). As a result, the majority of the below statistics come from them. One final note, some of the headings they use can be a bit confusing, so I have also provided a link to their glossary just in case you wanted to know what the various abbreviations meant.

I attempted to organize the information a little bit below, but it didn’t come off as well as I wanted, so I apologize if below is a bit confusing. The first topic you asked me to investigate was corner kicks. I was unable to find information on corner kicks surrendered but I did find information on number taken each year, since their inaugural season in 2011. Below are shots for, shots against (presumably on corner kicks surrendered), goals for and against, and a myriad of ways to interpret that. Again, see the glossary. I could provide some commentary, but I am interested to hear what you think in the comments.

Corner Kicks

Team Season Games Corner Kicks Taken ShtF ShtA GF GA GD xGF xGA xGD GD-xGD Pts xPts
Team Season Games Corner Kicks Taken ShtF ShtA GF GA GD xGF xGA xGD GD-xGD Pts xPts
VAN 2011 34 138 36 69 1 6 -5 1.959 5.942 -3.983 -1.017 28 38.024
VAN 2012 34 129 48 63 5 9 -4 3.123 5.528 -2.405 -1.595 43 41.239
VAN 2013 34 139 51 78 2 1 1 4.37 6.3 -1.93 2.93 48 42.881
VAN 2014 34 162 47 62 4 3 1 2.884 3.645 -0.761 1.761 50 48.373
VAN 2015 34 173 59 60 2 4 -2 3.258 4.589 -1.331 -0.669 53 49.1
VAN 2016 34 159 59 82 8 9 -1 4.867 7.136 -2.268 1.268 39 38.43
VAN 2017 34 166 60 88 4 7 -3 6.474 6.635 -0.162 -2.838 52 42.155
VAN 2018 34 153 55 79 3 5 -2 4.628 4.899 -0.271 -1.729 47 43.933
VAN 2019 34 129 47 116 4 6 -2 2.323 7.328 -5.004 3.004 34 30.775

The next topic you asked me to explore was passing. Unfortunately, because of the WhoScored missing data issue I was unable to identify key passes, and compare them between seasons. However, I was able to explore your other question about passing in the attacking third. Again, thanks to ASA. To clarify, the graph below lists: passes attempted, percentage completed, expected percentage completed, total additional passes completed (per 100) than expected, average distance passes went forward (in yards), and all the same statistics for the opponent. To explain the average distance statistics better, it means what is the average distance, in yards, each pass went in the forward direction. For example, if you had one pass that went forward two yards and one pass that went backwards one yard, your average distance would be +0.5.

Team Passing in Attack

Team Season Games PassF % Comp X % Comp Add Comp Distance Forward Pass Against % Comp Against X % Comp Against Add Comp Against Distance Forward
Team Season Games PassF % Comp X % Comp Add Comp Distance Forward Pass Against % Comp Against X % Comp Against Add Comp Against Distance Forward
VAN 2015 34 3101 0.638 0.66 -2.153 0.666 3669 0.671 0.687 -1.599 -0.8
VAN 2016 34 2945 0.638 0.654 -1.542 -0.235 4032 0.695 0.685 0.995 -0.041
VAN 2017 34 2688 0.596 0.629 -3.275 0.72 4307 0.714 0.697 1.767 -0.709
VAN 2018 34 2959 0.659 0.657 0.24 -0.522 4824 0.733 0.717 1.546 -0.556
VAN 2019 34 2846 0.7 0.7 -0.063 -0.418 5721 0.747 0.716 3.08 -0.585

Again, I am interested to read what you see, but in general, we see that Caps attempted, about, the same number of passes in the attacking third as in previous years. They completed the greatest percentage of passes this season, but that was not any higher than expected. Translation, they completed a lot but many were low risk. The club’s distance passed is about the same in 2019 as in 2018, meaning they moved ‘forward’ about at the same (poor) rate as in 2018. What else do you see?

Finally, I wanted to examine possession, especially in the attacking third, but once again WhoScored.com got in the way of that desire! However, I did find information on goals and expected goals.

Shots and Goals

Team Season Games ShtF ShtA GF GA GD xGF xGA xGD GD-xGD Pts xPts
Team Season Games ShtF ShtA GF GA GD xGF xGA xGD GD-xGD Pts xPts
VAN 2011 34 399 491 35 55 -20 34.896 45.742 -10.846 -9.154 28 38.024
VAN 2012 34 355 434 35 40 -5 29.597 35.274 -5.677 0.677 43 41.239
VAN 2013 34 438 514 53 41 12 37.845 43.039 -5.194 17.194 48 42.881
VAN 2014 34 452 442 41 40 1 39.22 36.237 2.983 -1.983 50 48.373
VAN 2015 34 440 386 45 36 9 39.557 35.446 4.111 4.889 53 49.1
VAN 2016 34 427 511 42 52 -10 36.659 49.942 -13.283 3.283 39 38.43
VAN 2017 34 392 523 49 49 0 41.392 48.463 -7.072 7.072 52 42.155
VAN 2018 34 416 514 53 64 -11 47.375 53.086 -5.711 -5.289 47 43.933
VAN 2019 34 359 681 37 55 -18 31.23 56.609 -25.378 7.378 34 30.775

Overall, 2019 wasn’t bad. Well, it was in the shots statistic. 2019 saw the second least shots for while it saw the highest, by far, number of shots against. The Whitecaps allowed 681 shots in 2019. The second highest was in 2017, with 523. That is almost 150 shots more. YIKES! Despite the shots numbers, the Caps scored better than their expected goals - that’s right, it should have been worse! - and were right on-par with goals against; in fact slightly bettering the expected 56.6 goals compared to the 55 they allowed. But that is how I see it. What about you? What do these statistics say to you?