Monday, July 6, 2009

The Women's Professional Soccer - Power Rankings

And now.... what?

Well, the excitement about a new women's professional soccer league has not only worn off, it has cooled significantly after the league suspended operations for 2012.

There is still hope, though, and the W-League of the United Soccer Leagues and the Women's Premier Soccer League will continue to grow high-level women's soccer.  The WPSL has added its "Elite" league for 2012 as well.  We shall see how things go, but hopefully things can keep moving in the right direction.

April 21, 2010
The second weekend started to show some separation. Not surprisingly, Washington got their first win over the expansion Atlanta Beat. St. Louis found a way to get a result at Chicago. FC Gold Pride took advantage of the traveling team and got a solid result over Sky Blue. The mild surprise of the weekend was the expansion side Philly finding a way to get a tie at Boston.

This weekend, Atlanta continues its road trip - fun way to start off for an expansion side, huh? This time, it is against the California team with Marta... On Sunday, Philadelphia hosts the Freedom, Chicago hosts the women from Jersey and Athletica takes on the Breakers. Put my money on FC Gold Pride and the St. Louis crew. I'm sensing a draw in the Independence match. Can Sky Blue take advantage of a Red Star side that is still looking for some consistency?

Here are the numbers for the week.

No Pvs Team Pts G PPG Pace
1 1 Boston Breakers 4 2 2.00 2
2 2 St. Louis Athletica 4 2 2.00 0
3 3 Sky Blue FC 3 2 1.50 -1
4 7 FC Gold Pride 3 2 1.50 -1
5 5 Philadelphia Independence 2 2 1.00 -1
6 8 Washington Freedom 3 2 1.50 -3
7 4 Atlanta Beat 1 2 0.50 -1
8 6 Chicago Red Stars 1 2 0.50 -2

April 13, 2010

The first weekend of play didn't reveal much we probably couldn't surmise coming into the season. Philly and Atlanta tied at zeros for their first game. St. Louis picked up right where they left off, beating FC Gold Pride at home in convincing fashion and Sky Blue beat Chicago as well. The surprise of the weekend was Boston winning at Washington. Considering how tight last year finished, and the fact that there are now eight teams, is it too soon to worry about dropped points? Probably, but you can't like starting off that way.

So here are the numbers for the week. See below for the theory behind the numbers.

No. Team Pts G PPG Pace
1 Boston Breakers 3 1 3 2
2 St. Louis Athletica 3 1 3 0
3 Sky Blue FC 3 1 3 0
4 Atlanta Beat 1 1 1 0
5 Philadelphia Independence 1 1 1 -1
6 Chicago Red Stars 0 1 0 -1
7 FC Gold Pride 0 1 0 -1
8 Washington Freedom 0 1 0 -3

Looking forward to next week, we have St. Louis at Chicago and Sky Blue at FC Gold Pride on Saturday and Atlanta at Washington and Philadelphia at Boston.

Can Athletica continue their home success on the road? Chicago obviously wants to defend their home turf, so that should be a good battle. Can Sky Blue FC do the same? FC Gold Pride didn't start the season well, but now they are home. Traditionally, coast to coast travelers don't do well.... The Sunday games ought to give us a good barometer of where the expansion teams are relative to the league. These are pretty much the first true-blue expansion teams in women's professional soccer history, so there isn't much of a track record to look at for perspective. I'm looking forward to seeing how they do.

April 3, 2010

Well, it has been quite an interesting off-season. No more LA Sol, but we've seen the addition of the Philadelphia Independence and the return of an original WUSA team, the Atlanta Beat. They join the Washington Freedom and the Boston Breakers as returning teams as we kick off Season Two of the WPS.It will be interesting to see how the new players settle into their new teams and how the league adjusts without the Sol.

August 23, 2009

Congratulations to Sky Blue - what an amazing run to the championship! Especially considering the format - obviously, I wasn't a believer, but they didn't give up and found a way to win all the games.

I can't say enough about the determination it took to win all those games under those circumstances.

August 10, 2009

Congratulations to Washington and Sky Blue for being the third and fourth seeds into the inaugural WPS playoffs! Especially for Sky Blue, who had the toughest road to the playoffs of the remaining three teams.

What I find interesting is that the playoffs all happen in a week - this weekend's first round, next Wednesday's Super Semifinal and then the Final the following weekend. That is a lot less of a down period for the LA Sol. Add in their victory over the Breakers on Sunday, and I think they have regained their mojo enough that I think they are no longer in significant danger of losing the final to a more in-form team. So call that me picking the obvious.

Here are the final rankings for the 2009 WPS season. It has been fun getting back into things and I look forward to next season where we have more teams to work with and a better feel for what teams bring to the table

Once again, Boston and New Jersey swapped places. Those teams were neck and neck down the stretch, but a home win by Sky Blue over FCGP combined with Boston's loss to LA on Sunday gives the Jersey Girls (sorry, I'll admit, I'm a Kevin Smith fan) the edge at the end. After all was said and done, it was Sky Blue FC's better home record that put them over the top.

No. Prv Team Pts G PPG Pace
1 1 LA Sol 41 20 2.05 1
2 2 St. Louis Athletica 34 20 1.70 -6
3 3 Washington Freedom 29 20 1.45 -11
4 5 Sky Blue FC 26 20 1.30 -14
5 4 Boston Breakers 25 20 1.25 -15
6 6 Chicago Red Stars 20 20 1.00 -20
7 7 FC Gold Pride 18 20 0.90 -22

So now we're on to the playoffs. As a reminder the format is 4@3, then winner @2, then winner @1. So Washington hosts New Jersey, then St. Louis hosts that winner, and then LA hosts the final.

Sky Blue at Washington. It looks like the Freedom have the upper hand both in terms of recent results and also playing at home. Through the course of the season, the Freedom compiled a 5-2-3 (w-l-t) record, including a recent 3-1 win over Sky Blue on August 8. SBFC only won two road games this past season - over Chicago and Boston. On paper, it looks to be Washington's. The question is whether Sky Blue can continue to show their mettle and beat the Freedom. Unlike last Saturday's game, where Sky Blue FC came into the game on short rest having played on Wednesday, this time New Jersey will be fresh and rested. I'm predicting a Freedom win, but these teams are close enough in competition that anything is possible.

Super Semifinal at St. Louis. Whoever wins the first round game will most likely fall victim to the second best team in the league. Athletica is the only team other than the Sol to have a winning record on the road as well as at home. Even without their star forward, St. Louis is deep enough to overtake either Sky Blue or Washington.

Super Semifinal winner at Los Angeles. If St. Louis is upset in the semis, you can chalk this up to LA before the first whistle. Yes, yes, I know - you still have to play the games. But three games in seven days for the visiting team? We've seen what this does in MLS to teams, and the WPS teams have a lot less experience dealing with short turnarounds (although every team did have to do it more than once this past season).

On the other hand, if St. Louis wins as expected, then I think you'll see one of the best games of the season, although I see LA edging out St. Louis at the final whistle as you will still have St. Louis playing on short rest and the break isn't as long as I originally thought - cutting down the chance that LA would lose a bit of its edge in the time off.

So yes, probably going According To Hoyle for this year's playoffs.

Thanks for joining us this season. Enjoy the playoffs and we'll see you - along with the Atlanta Beat and the Philadelphia Independence - in 2010!

August 4, 2009

And now we know more. Not everything, but we know a lot more. Going into tonight's game, we know that Boston has fallen further behind Washington, but because of where Sky Blue FC is and what that team is facing, the Breakers are most likely to make the playoffs - probably as the four seed.

We do know that as Athletica go into the game tonight against Chicago, they are locked into second place and will host the Super Semifinal on August 19.

We also know that Sol is not invulnerable - even with Marta.

What we do know is that there is a good separation of teams, with the New York/New Jersey team the lone possible outlier. LA and St. Louis are clearly Nos. 1 and 2. Boston, Washington and Sky Blue are the middle three and FC Gold Pride and Chicago are the bottom two. Both recent results over the past few weeks and the overall numbers bear this out.
What we don't know are: (A) whether Sky Blue can overcome their coaching carousel to pull off the improbable - or maybe even just be competitive; (B) whether Washington can hold off Boston for the third spot; and (C) whether Boston can overcome recent stumbles to reassert themselves enough to at least be the Four Seed or even overtake the Freedom.

The fun of it is this - any of the three teams fighting for the playoffs can be third, fourth or out.


Here are the raw numbers:

1 1 LA Sol 38 19 2.00 -1
2 2 St. Louis Athletica 30 18 1.67 -6
3 4 Washington Freedom 26 19 1.37 -11
4 3 Boston Breakers 25 19 1.32 -12
5 5 Sky Blue FC 23 18 1.28 -13
6 6 Chicago Red Stars 20 19 1.05 -19
7 7 FC Gold Pride 17 18 0.94 -19

July 27, 2009

With the season winding down, some of this will cover some playoff scenarios in addition to the current rankings. Despite a few stumbles, the LA Sol and St. Louis Athletica were able to hold onto their respective spots at Nos. 1 and 2. We now know that two teams won't make the inaugural playoffs (San Jose and Chicago), but we also know it will be a real fight to the end for the remaining three teams (Washington, Boston and New York) for the final two spots.

Yes, technically, St. Louis hasn't locked up a playoff spot yet, but with only three games remaining - two of which are at home - the chance that they will be caught by all three chasers is a lot closer to none than slim. Four points is a lot of points to make up. Athletica could very well lock up a playoff spot and all but take the second spot with a win over their new-found rivals, Boston, this Saturday.

On the other end of it, Sky Blue FC has the toughest road - only two games left and currently tied with Washington for that last playoff spot. New York catches a break in that they play a team mathematically out (FC Gold Pride) at home, but then play what could be a winner-take-all match in the nation's capitol for their final game.

Boston and Washington currently look to be the strongest to be the 3 and 4 seeds, and they play on Wednesday in Maryland. Not much at stake in that game, huh? The Freedom hold more of their destiny in their hand than any team, especially with two of their three remaining games at home.

What is nice about the way the season is playing out is that each team trying to get into the playoffs has a game (or two) against their rivals for those playoff spots - so they get a chance to take their spoils right there on the field.

As for the rankings, we have a change - with the recent results, Washington has passed Sky Blue FC for the fourth spot. Even though they are tied on points, the Freedom have both a game in hand and a better road record. St. Louis came back to the pack a little with their loss and tie, but not enough to really flirt with being caught by Boston - yet, that is. A win for Boston this weekend could push the Breakers past Athletica in both points per game and Pace. LA isn't going to be caught this season - not until the championship game, anyway.

I still think three weeks off is a LOOONG time between games, and think there is a greater than zero chance that the No. 2 team - Athletica or not - has a good chance of being rested for one week, then taking on a beat-up 3 or 4 team, and then in a good groove to play the No. 1 team. We'll see how it plays out - should be fun!

Okay, so here are the raw rankings. As always, comments are surely welcome!

No. Prv Team Pts G PPG Pace
1 1 LA Sol 38 18 2.11 0
2 2 St. Louis Athletica 27 17 1.59 -6
3 3 Boston Breakers 25 17 1.47 -10
4 5 Washington Freedom 23 17 1.35 -10
5 4 Sky Blue FC 23 18 1.28 -13
6 6 Chicago Red Stars 17 18 0.94 -19
7 7 FC Gold Pride 14 17 0.82 -19

July 20, 2009

Due to some work issues, I wasn't able to do the rankings for this week, but it was notable that you started to have some real pressure on some teams in terms of playoff spots, and you got to see some real desperation.

July 13, 2009

So are we seeing a crack in the Sol armor? Could St. Louis not only be the second best team in the league, but one that has the guns to take LA down for the championship? Athletica's amazing road record points to that possibility. Joan of Arc's ladies have played four fewer home games than the Sol, but their Pace is but a mere -3 behind La's even.

Below what appear more and more to be the top two teams in the league, teams are bunched together tightly. Two points separate the next four teams, with the San Jose club falling behind a little more with each passing week.

We have one of our first best examples of how these rankings wash out statistical anomalies. Technically, the Red Stars are ahead of the Freedom in terms of points, but they have played one more game and have a worse home record than Washington and so you can clearly see how this keeps the Freedom in the Five Spot.

So here are the raw numbers - feel free to share your comments!

No. Prv Team Pts G PPG Pace
1 1 LA Sol 37 17 2.18 0
2 2 St. Louis Athletica 23 14 1.64 -3
3 3 Boston Breakers 18 14 1.29 -10
4 4 Sky Blue FC 18 14 1.29 -10
5 5 Washington Freedom 16 14 1.14 -12
6 6 Chicago Red Stars 17 15 1.13 -14
7 7 FC Gold Pride 12 14 0.86 -14

July 6, 2009 - Power Rankings Returns!

I am very proud to bring back my format for power rankings and apply them to Women's Professional Soccer!

After a four year hiatus, I'll be back on the web with what I consider to be the best objective evaluation of where teams are as the season progresses, this time for the new women's soccer league, WPS.

The idea is to find a way to wash out the statistical anomalies that come along during a season as some teams play more home games than away games or vice versa, and the same for games played. This gives you a more realistic look at where the teams stand at any given moment. This is different than most of the power rankings out there that are either mostly or entirely subjective - and we all know the flaws inherent in that system...

I originally came up with this formula in the early years of MLS, and did this for MLS while writing for 3rdDegree from 1998 through 2005. I also did them for WUSA for a time as a part of my Shannon MacMillan page.

Now, I'll be applying them to WPS, and I'm really looking forward to it.

So here they are - the first week of WPS Power Rankings!

July 6, 2009

No. Prv Team Pts G PPG Pace
LA Sol 37 16 2.31 3
St. Louis Athletica 20 13 1.54 -5
Boston Breakers 18 13 1.38 -7
Sky Blue FC 15 13 1.15 -12
Washington Freedom 16 14 1.14 -12
Chicago Red Stars 14 14 1.00 -14
FC Gold Pride 12 13 0.92 -13

As this is the first week, there aren't previous (Prv) numbers.

The System

The Points Per Game is pretty straightforward.

The Pace is the key, in my opinion. It is an objective standard that takes into account what in most sports - to some degree - is a factor: home field. The Pace refers to winning at home, and tying on the road. So if you win on the road, you get +2. If you tie at home, you get -2. Winning at home or tying on the road is 0.

Analysis - July 6, 2009

What is interesting is that for this current group, things line up pretty straightforward - PPG and The Pace are almost exactly the same in terms of how the teams are ranked. Obviously, the Sol are the cream of the crop. With the unique WPS playoff format, they will certainly be the most rested team once they have to play in the final - assuming they keep their place, with sure seems like a safe assumption at this point. I wonder if they might be TOO rested...

St. Louis and Boston are pretty clearly the next tier of teams, with the rest of the league following them. This will be fun to track these last bit of the season and then see how things play out in the playoffs.

So what do you think? Is this something that you're interested in?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Kevin!

Good to see your putting some time into WPS. Hopefully youe FCD duties will not suffer! :)

I look forward to reading every week!

BTW, what is Dallas' situation looking like for expansion?? Last I heard PHP was asking for too much rent?? It can't be that simple can it??


Mike Amrock