The doormat last year in MLS took about 10 weeks or so to really take shape; as DC United opened the season with 1 win (Real Salt Lake) 1 draw (New York Red Bulls) and 8 losses, Houston twice, Columbus twice, Sporting KC, New York, Philadelphia, and FC Dallas – 4 points in 10 games.
This year the Montreal Impact have played nine games with one win (Philadelphia) three draws (Philadelphia, New York and Chicago) and five losses (Dallas, Houston, Sporting KC twice and Seattle).
So from a “points in the league table standpoint” Montreal sit on 6 points (last).
Looking at Goal Differential it’s already -10. Goal differential correlates to points in the league table at R2 = .79; in other words goal differential is roughly 80% accurate in identifying good teams from bad teams.
A colleague of mine in Europe (John Bilton – with Doncaster Rovers youth program) has a measuring stick he likes to use called “Elite team analysis”.
That analysis works off of Goals Scored. An elite team in that approach is defined as a team that scores 3+ goals in a game on a regular basis. Poor performing teams would then, in my view, translate to teams that have 3+ goals scored against them in games.
This year, with just nine games played, Montreal have had opponents score 3+ goals against them 3 times; so have Chivas USA, Chicago, Houston and Colorado.
Conversely teams that have scored 3+ goals in (three or more games this year) are Sporting KC, FC Dallas, and Seattle. Real Salt Lake lead the league in scoring 3+ goals four times.
So it pretty much holds true using the “elite team” analysis that Montreal is not an “elite team”.
To test the “elite team” qualitative analysis I compared that to my Weekly Possession with Purpose (PWP) Analysis; a quantitative analysis you can read more about here.
Four of the five teams who have had 3+ goals scored against them this year are the bottom four teams in the Week 10 PWP Composite Index.
And four of the top six teams in my PWP Composite Index this year are the same four teams who have scored 3+ goals in a game this year; with Real leading the league with four 3+ goal games.
If interested, you can read my Week 10 PWP analysis and PWP Attacking and Defending Players of the week here.
Bottom line with respect to PWP and Montreal; they have the worst combined possession, passing accuracy, penetration, creation of shots taken, shots on goal and goals scored of any other team in MLS at this time.
That is three separate indicators (two qualitative and one quantitative) that rate team performance three different ways, Goals Scored/Against, Team Possession, passing accuracy, penetration, and shots taken/shots on goal/goals scored (PWP), and “elite team analysis”.
So what about last year?
Last year Montreal were one of the top performing teams in PWP (sixth best against in MLS).
They also finished fifth in the Eastern Conference table with 14 wins, 13 losses and 7 ties for 49 points.
Finally, last year, they scored 3+ goals 6 times while suffering 3+ goals against 6 times.
In looking at the overall PWP Composite Index from last year it correctly identified (100%) the top five teams in both the Eastern and Western Conferences.
What has happened?
Others will know this better than me but Chicago (Frank Klopas’ team last year) finished 17th in the PWP Composite Index and finished 6th, just behind Montreal, in the League table.
In looking at “elite team” status Chicago Fire had five games where the opponent scored 3+ goals against them and 6 games where they scored 3+ goals against their opponents.
Other than that – in reviewing the attacking scheme for Chicago last year, it looked like Klopas offered up more of a direct attacking approach than some others – given the volume of crosses Montreal is offering up this year it appears Klopas brought that style to Montreal.
If that isn’t the system of attack that was used last year; which I don’t think it is based upon overall possession and passing accuracy percentages it may take quite some time and personnel changes to right the ship.
So you know, this year the Passing Accuracy for Montreal averages out at 67%; last year their Passing Accuracy average was 78% – a drop in performance by a full 11%. That’s HUGE, if not inordinately large and usually a lower passing accuracy like that indicates a more direct attacking team style. To confirm, with Chicago last year Klopas’ team average in Passing Accuracy was 71%…
I’m not one to offer up a prognostication that a General Manager or Head Coach gets fired; not my place as an objective analyst.
But the data – and some compelling data to boot, does indicate there are significant team performance issues; both qualitative and quantitative.
Is this type of information relevant to the Owner of Montreal? I don’t know – but perhaps it helps others see a bigger picture on how poorly Montreal is performing both within and outside the League Table, where all results are finally measured…
PS: My thanks to Matthias Kullowatz who correctly reminded me that Points in the League Table and the “Elite Team” analysis are qualitative statistics whereas the PWP Analysis is a quantitative statistical analysis effort.