With unlimited transfers this season, match ups are more important than ever. The question is how to evaluate match ups, especially if you’re only an aspiring Armchair Analyst and not yet the real thing. The answer? Expected Goals (xG).
What are expected goals (xG)
The idea behind xG is simple. Every shot is awarded a probability of scoring based on the position on the field and the game situation, based on giant databases of shots from years and years of data. Then at the end of the game all the xGs from the individual shots are added up to generate the team’s xG for that game. This metric is a useful measure of the teams overall attacking or defending play, more so than just looking at how many goals a team has scored or allowed. If you’d like to learn more, there’s a nice video by MLS to explain further:
How to use these rankings
The rankings below use the xG metric to rank the match ups each week to help you determine which teams you should try to choose your attackers or defenders from. Each teams score is an average of their xG/g and their opponent’s xG/g separated out into offense/defense and home/away match ups. For example, this week Chicago plays Seattle at home. Chicago’s average home xG/g is 0.98 and Seattle’s away xG/g allowed is 1.20 for an offensive xG score for Week 10 of 1.09 xG. The reverse can be done to calculate their defensive score for this week. The game by game xG numbers are taken from Ben Baer’s weekly xG article, and don’t include the xG from penalty kicks.
The first column is the team in the rankings, the second column is the teams opponent for this week (for double game weeks, both games are included separately), the third column is whether the ranked team is home or away, the fourth column is the the ranked team’s offense score this week (the higher the better), and the ranked teams defensive score (the lower the better). For reference, the average match up on the season has an offensive and defensive xG/xG allowed of 1.21 xG/g. So offensive scores higher than 1.21 and defensive scores lower than 1.20 are better than average match ups.
Week 11 xG Matchup Rankings
|Team||Opponent||Home/Away||Offensive xG||Defense xG against|
|NY Red Bulls||LAG||H||1.67||0.92|
|San Jose Earthquakes||COL||A||0.98||0.96|
|Sporting Kansas City||OCSC||A||0.89||1.2|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC||HOU||A||0.98||1.55|
Week 11 rankings notes
- So for this week, the rankings suggest that:
- Offensively, Toronto (vs. Min), New England, and Portland have the best match ups.
- Defensively, Orlando, New York Red Bulls, and Chicago have the best match ups.
- Importantly, Toronto and Columbus have a double game week this week. The double game week teams are marked with a ** in the table for reference.
- Offensively, Toronto has the best offensive matchup and a slightly below average matchup. Columbus has two slightly above average match ups.
- Defensively, neither team with has great matchups, with Toronto’s schedule being slightly better.