How’s It Going? – An Assessment of Louisville City’s 2021 Season To-Date
Updated: Jun 24, 2021
With June nearly over and the 2021 season in full gear, I felt that it was time that we step back and take a quick look at how the season has unraveled thus far and what some of the numbers are telling us we might be heading.
Currently, Louisville City is in first place in the Central division (based on goal differential) and has a 97% chance of making the playoffs according to FiveThirtyEight and a 12% to win it all (only second to Phoenix Rising). Not too shabby! It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows getting to this point. For your reference, I will list out all the matches so far and assign them descriptive names in the style of Friends episodes (just to spice things up):
LOUvSD – 2-1 Win – The One Where Landon Donovan Was Sent Off
LOUvIND – 1-2 Loss – The One Where We Dominated In Everything But Scoring
Between injuries and losing a coach, you can’t be too upset with where we are sitting as a whole. Yes, there are viable complaints about some of the matches where points were dropped but mistakes will happen. All in all, many teams would love to be in our position.
Now, let’s look at some of the numbers. For this, I have pulled data from American Soccer Analysis. If you like soccer and numbers, then you will love it as much as I do. If you want to play with the data I used below, it’s all yours. It's not a deep assessment but rather a quick review of some general team stats.
First, we will look at expected goals (xG) and expected points (xPts). For those unfamiliar, xG is essentially the number of goals one should expect based on various on-field factors such as passes and positioning. It’s basically assigning a number to the “eye-test”. You can go here for a more thorough explanation. xPts, meanwhile, is essentially taking xG to the next level and determining how many points a team would get based on the play. Here is a little primer on that.
For the sake of comparison, I have the 2021 data lined up against the 2017 and 2018 LouCity data. We won championships in those seasons so what better years to measure against.
From an “Expected” perspective, we are sitting pretty. Both the xG and xPts are trending above the 2017 and 2018 levels! The squad has been dangerous and creating serious chances. The downside to this is when you compare it to the reality; actual goals and points.
Both goals and points are trending below the 2017/2018 levels (although not dramatically). So what gives? Why the discrepancies? The team has not been clinical enough in front of the net. Many of you didn’t need a chart to tell you that. The chances are there. They are creating opportunities but they are not finding the net like they should (according to the xG measure that is).
Speaking of goals, let’s look at average goals for and average goals against.
In these visuals, you obviously want to be in the bottom right; scoring lots and letting little in. Compared to the rest of the 2021 field, Morados is one of the best on a game-by-game basis. 1.8 goals for per game and only 0.9 goals against. Measuring up against tougher competition, I’ve pulled in the teams with the highest points totals from the previous season as well as LouCity’s past seasons. In this context, the goals for is ok but the goals against is fantastic. Only last year’s team was better. How does that old saying go? “Defense wins championships”? The expected charts provide an interesting comparison on where we theoretically could be based on chances. The xGF and xGA are by no means perfect so take them with a grain of salt.
Goals are clearly more important than shots but it's still interesting to see how the team compares both to the current 2021 competition as well as some of the historic teams mentioned above.
There isn't a correlation between shots for and against but this does showcase the limiting LouCity defense and the potent offense.
Looking at shots to goals, City is getting off some of the most shots in the league and is in the upper tier of goals as well. As long as the goals come, shot counts shouldn't really matter but you would like to see a better return on that shot count, however, it is on par with the rest of the league (as seen with the proximity to the trend line).
All the previous data is great and all but points are where the money is at.
Here you are seeing the average number of points earned for each outing. While the season is still somewhat young, Louisville is looking to be one of the best in 2021 with 16 points in eight matches. Compared to the best of the past, there is a little catching up to do but still not a bad spot to be in.
So, what’s the takeaway here? Based on the first handful of matches, LouCity is doing well. While neither side of the ball has been perfect, they are one of the better teams this season on both offense and defense. This brief glimpse into the team’s performance seems to support FiveThirtyEight’s confidence in City’s ability to get the job done and secure another playoff berth. With that said, there is still a long way to go. Anything can happen. LouCity has won three straight and enters the next LIPAFC installment with all sorts of momentum. Its big wins like these that are needed to maintain their status as a great team and keep on track for not only for the playoffs but for another championship.