Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Crew on ABC, MLS Returns to ESPN

Dust off your hardhat and get ready to fire up your Sony Trinitron TV - the Columbus Crew are going to host a nationally televised game on ABC on November 1st, 2020. This will effectively be a send-off for Crew Stadium as the team moves into her new home next year. 

MLS games on terrestrial television are a relatively rare thing. Usually, the only one fans get on ABC is the final, but even those stopped being regular there a decade ago. Only FOX, year in and year out, carry games. Even there, it's rare. Less than a handful each year.

MLS released the remainder of the league schedule yesterday. ESPN finally returns to host a couple of regular-season games for the first time since the summer bubble.

1 - ESPN Oct 11 Seattle / LAFC

2 - ABC Oct 25 LA's

3 - ESPN Oct 28 Portland  LAG

4 - ABC Nov 1 Crew v Philly

Outside of the Disney family of networks, FOX will host one more (along with FS1 having just a couple). Univision and TSN also have a few. All in all, however, MLS has been largely absent from the national TV landscape. No reason has been given, but it's likely due to the log jam of NBA, MLB, and College Football games.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Crew on Top

Columbus exits the 12th week of MLS play on top of MLS. First in Points per Game and 2nd only behind Seattle in Goal Difference per Game.

1.91Seattle Sounders1.45
1.83Orlando City0.75
1.83Toronto FC0.50
1.73FC Dallas0.64
1.67Sporting KC0.42
1.42NYC FC0.08
1.36LA Galaxy-0.09
1.33Montreal Impact-0.17
1.25New England-0.08
1.25Houston Dynamo0.08
1.17NY Red Bulls*-0.42
1.17Real Salt Lake-0.33
0.92Inter Miami-0.33
0.92Atlanta United*-0.42
0.92D.C. United-0.50
0.92San Jose*-1.33

You have to go back about 11 seasons to find a Crew team performing this well after this many games. There is a caveat, however. 9 of the Crew's 12 games have been against pretty terrible teams.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

MLS Player Ratings, update

Here's a positional list of the top players according to my Helltown Player Rating System*. This system uses traditional stats ("box score") and mixes them with playing time and team position on the overall true table. Basically, if you are filling the box score and playing a lot on a good team? You'll do well here. This system was created to help me get to the better players fast without wasting my time endlessly sorting tables. It works!

Anyway, here we go. As of last night (September 18).


Player ScorePlayer Name(TEAM)
10.00Gyasi ZardesCLB
9.82Raúl RuidíazSEA
9.25Kacper PrzybyłkoPHI
9.10Jordan MorrisSEA
8.56Diego RossiLAF


Player ScorePlayer Name(TEAM)
9.26Alejandro PozueloTFC
8.66Cristian RoldanSEA
8.25Darlington NagbeCLB
8.25Brenden AaronsonPHI
8.24Alejandro BedoyaPHI
7.97Ján GregušMIN
7.95Nicolás LodeiroSEA
7.91Jamiro MonteiroPHI
7.64Sebastian LletgetLAG


Player ScorePlayer Name(TEAM)
8.83Jonathan MensahCLB
8.29Kelvin LeerdamSEA
7.80Graham ZusiSKC
7.78Omar GonzalezTFC
7.72Harrison AffulCLB
7.67Reto ZieglerFCD
7.59Ray GaddisPHI
7.55Anton TinnerholmNYC
7.44Mark McKenziePHI


Player ScorePlayer Name(TEAM)
8.56Stefan FreiSEA
8.05Andre BlakePHI
7.72Pedro GalleseORL
7.39Quentin WestbergTFC
7.22David BinghamLAG

*SINCE 2011, the oldest and longest-running player rating system in MLS

Friday, September 18, 2020

MLS not being televised

Major League Soccer has had two schedule releases post "MLS is Back" bubble tournament and none of the games have been picked up by the ESPN channels on TV. 

All MLS games are available on ESPN+ and in local markets, but the curious absence on MLS on the sports leader and longtime partner is an odd one. 

One reason might be that MLS fulfilled its commitment to ESPN during the bubble, where most games were broadcast. That seems a little bit harsh on ESPN if that were the case. Did they just want to move on to focus on the NBA, MLB and NFL? 

Another part of the equation might be that ESPN recently picked up the US rights to the Bundesliga. It starts soon and features a normally MLS broadcast booth in Derek Rae and Taylor Twellman.

ESPN+ viewership numbers are normally not made publically available but one can put together pieces of evidence to deduce that they don't pull more than four digits (free games live on both YouTube and Twitter show viewership).

After the release of the September MLS schedule, I combed it once again for games on the ESPN family of networks and saw nothing. Univision has a couple games, so does FS1, but that's it.

MLS has a problem here. They have lost whatever they had of the national gaze (in regards to sports). They were always a sort of add on in general nationwide sports conversation, but now you won't hear a single peep about them on national sports shows. Hell, even on my Twitter feed, heavy with soccer and MLS, I don't see a whole lot.

Was ESPN upset with how the MLS Bubble ratings went? I think it's possible. They always tell fans to "vote with your feet." I think ESPN just did that with MLS.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

MLS Team of the Year (so far)

Teams in MLS are finally reaching 10 games, so it's a good time to update my Helltown Player ratings. The full list can be found HERE.

Incidentally, this is the 10th year since the creation of my player ratings.

The team in visual form:

Monday, September 7, 2020

A Top Pedro Santos Performance

Last night the Columbus Crew worked over Cincinnati by a 3-0 scoreline. In it, we saw great performances from most of the team, but one, in particular, stands out: Pedro Santos.

His WhoScored rating of 8.99 makes it his second performance in the top 1% of all 3,672 Crew player ratings since 2013 (as far back as their and Opta MLS ratings go).

Here is a look at the number of times a player has performed in the top 1% off all performances.

Top 1%Name
8Justin Meram
7Federico Higuain
7Kei Kamara
3Gyasi Zardes
2Pedro Santos
2Ola Kamara
2Ethan Finlay
1Aaron Schoenfeld
1Chad Marshall
1Kekuta Manneh
1Lucas Zelerayan
1Youness Mokhtar
1Zack Steffen

Notable for Santos because this puts him one of only seven players in 8 seasons to fall in the top 1% two times or more. For some, this might stand in contrast to how they feel about his play. There have been some really rough games for him, but the top-level that he can play at is also near the top of Major League Soccer and he's doing it at 32 years of age.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Quick Crew Player Grades

With such a jumpy season it's hard to get a handle on how well players are doing. So, I decided to put together a quick cheat sheet - a high-level look at things.

Below is a table that has total touches and average WhoScored rating. 

If a player has the ball a lot and keeps a good score? GREAT!

If a player has the ball a lot and has a bad score? BAD!

A+Lucas Zelarayan3437.64
A+Josh Williams2067.37
AGyasi Zardes2357.24
AJonathan Me7297.13
AYouness Mok1767.03
BHarrison Af5956.86
BMilton Vale4176.85
BPedro Santo3886.84
BAndrew Tarb1426.84
CDerrick Eti2386.76
CVito Wormgo936.74
CLuis Díaz1766.73
CHéctor Jimé2156.71
DFatai Alash206.29
DAidan Morri256.23
DFanendo Adi416.09
DEmmanuel Bo526.08
FAboubacar K3316.55
FSebastian B1956.47
FChris Cadde1736.24

Zelarayan is as advertised. Josh Williams is playing at a good level this year as well.

Aboubacar is not having a season to remember thus far and Chris Cadden doesn't appear to be a great fit right now. I don't think he wanted to leave Scotland.