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The Daily Dirt May 3, 2018: Time for some Game State Theory

A TDD special investigation

MLS: D.C. United at Atlanta United FC John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Centre half, football, pro/rel - soccer commentators are great at talking in jargon that flavor the culture and analysis of the game. What’s better is that new words and terms are constantly joining the lexicon - xG, Chuck Blazer, and zone 14 are no doubt terms that fans are now extremely familiar with. A new word is joining these informative and colorful phrases. If Merriam-Webster’s put out a soccer word of the year, the front runner for 2018 would be the mighty, the amorphous, the cudgel shaped - “GAME STATE.” You may be familiar with the term, it is used to explain everything from why Josef Martinez isn’t actually good and only scores easy hat tricks to unidentified tactics, trends, or game events that pundits don’t identify, analyze, or explain but attribute to the outcome of a match.

Broadly speaking, “game state” refers to uh, what’s happening in the game and how that influences what happens in a match. A player being sent off, a team leading, a team trailing, a penalty being awarded - all of these help shape the game. The issue with this is that nothing happens in a vacuum - a penalty is awarded because of a chain of events in a game, a red card is shown due to a specific circumstance. Josef Martinez has several hat tricks in matches where Atlanta has been up a man, is that because he is bad otherwise or because Atlanta’s attack is so good that defenses play poorly against the team and are forced into making fouls that they otherwise wouldn’t? Does the phrase “game state” explain that? No. It’s a meaningless buzzword that stands in for more difficult analysis that might not fit a narrative as well as vapid jargon does that people use when they want to sound like they’re speaking about something with authority when they are really just giving a hot take.

Maybe next year we can get xDN to get added to the lexicon of soccer things that make no sense and enable lazy, decontextualized takes to seem like they have meaning, but for now we can bask in the warm glow of hot takes backed by game state.

Anyway, onto the Dirt...


Our long, national nightmare is over - Lee Nguyen is again free to terrorize MLS defenses as the New England Revolution traded the midfielder to LAFC for some fake money. LA made the trade despite Nguyen not being a defensive midfielder and being 31 years old but is going to provide them with more attacking depth. He may see time sooner rather than later with Marco Urena undergoing face surgery.

Meanwhile, Brian Schmetzer gave a very ‘dad is mad that you didn’t take out the trash and mouthed off to mom about it’ speech during his meeting with the press today.

Speaking of fake money, after spending years forcing fans to watch a bad MLS team play bad soccer in a bad stadium, DC United has found a new and innovative way to take advantage of fans. They’ve announced the creation of Fan Allocation Money which totally isn’t a scam intended to tank the secondary ticket market as the team opens its new stadium.


Mo Salah is on the way to the Champions League final, but his impact is being felt off the field as well. The New York Times has a story on his role breaking down cultural barriers in England.

FIFA wants to hold a mini-World Cup every two years. The tournament would be the final stage of the Nations League money grab that the organization is hoping to cash in on that was reported on last week. $25 billion will sure get a lot of attention for what seems like an idea that will just further diminish the ever expanding and ever lower quality World Cup.

Canadian Women’s National Team goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe tried out for and won a roster spot on Calgary Foothills FC. Then the league told her she couldn’t play because there are no women allowed in the Premier Development League. CBC has the rest of the story.


Nothing boring about this...

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