Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Crew vs. Analysis

"Crew Communications" put up a little story a couple weeks ago about the team picking back up a system called Match Analysis. It has fancy software names and systems like: Mambo Studio software, Tango Online and Tango ToGo!. I'm not here to mock it though. After getting past the fact that the Crew didn't have a system last year, let's talk about the one they are picking back up.

It is a very good thing that the Crew have something like this to use. Just as long as they have the folks in place that can digest it AND have people able to communicate it with the right folks - effectively.

Looking at one of the sample reports Match Analysis has I can see both good and bad data. The most important thing the Crew can do is determine what data is important and ignore the rest.

One of the sayings I learnt early in manufacturing is "don't trust your eyes, trust the data." Yes, it is true. Your eyes will fail you more than nowt. However, now that I've been doing it for a number of years, I've had to add, "but it depends on who is looking."

Analytical systems in sports have an important place, but should only serve as one tool in a box of many used to build success.

In recent years I've seen analysis tools over used and trusted too much (in sports). Pat Shurmur's Cleveland Browns team comes to mind this year. I've also seen the Houston Rockets in the NBA use it effectively then abuse it. Baseball invented the damned things and they still can't figure out how to use analysis systems correctly.

A little preachy here today but it is for good reason. I saw very little out of the Crew last year as far as tactical changes to start a game to get out in front of individual teams or opposing players. Most of the changes each game were in personnel starting only.

Sticking to your game plan and forcing the opposing team to react requires superior talent. Not a lot of teams in Major League Soccer boast that amount of talent... ergo, I says to you; therein lives an advantage. What I'm hoping is to see the Crew using this Match Analysis data in effective ways.

One interesting note is that the Crew has had this system in the past. Just not last year. According to the Match Analysis site; it is claimed that a mountain of US Open Cup winners using it. I can see it useful on unfamiliar USL or NASL teams (or for them).

The Crew fell out very early in that competition last year (the year they dropped the system) to a Richmond Kickers team. A team that belongs to a league that streams games online and makes available all their stats.

No fancy system needed for that.

I was at the game the Kickers / Crew game. The Crew didn't lose because they had less talent. They lost because they had no idea who they were playing.

That is just plain lazy, and systems can't replace lazy.

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