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The Daily Dirt May 7, 2018: ANALYTICS SPECIAL EDITION

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A by the numbers look at Atlanta United’s season so far

2009 World Science Festival's Opening Gala Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Ah, math and stats. The thing that everyone loves to look at when it comes to soccer because it truly reveals the true truth of the game. Data can tell us so much - like that Josef Martinez is good actually and let us ask questions like could he do it against Andrew Shue* and Alexi Lalas like Stern John had to? If Neil deGrasse Tyson were a soccer commentator would he just go around ruining everything fun for everybody with his knowledge of so called astrophysics (wait, there’s a movie that does things that aren’t publishable in the journal Nature? SHOW ME YOUR DATA SANDRA BULLOCK)? Without further commentary that will lead Georgia Tech to rescind my Master of Science, let’s dust off the ole TI-82 again and look into the numbers that make the Five Stripes so special so far in 2018.

22 and 18 - how many goals and assists Miguel Almiron is on pace to record this year. This is super impressive and if he continues his pace, and isn’t sold, would be an all time great MLS season and win him a unanimous MVP award. While that’s great and all, Rob brought up an interesting point that the numbers don’t illustrate:

If you are a visual learner and need a picture to go along with the stat Rob is subtweeting, Atlanta’s analytics guru has this wonderful illustration:

My word Miggy, you were everywhere against Chicago, please never leave us.

26 - The number of goals that Josef Martinez is on track to score in 2018. As we discussed earlier in the year, 2017 was not a great year for Josef away from home. He seems to have turned that around a bit in 2018, albeit with a limited sample size - in four games he has two goals with both coming in Atlanta’s most recent away games. While .5 goals a game isn’t nearly what he’s averaging at home, every single MLS team in the league would take a striker who scores 8.5 goals on the year away from home. Does anyone actually doubt that a fully healthy Josef can reach this number or even surpass it?

37 - The number of goals allowed Atlanta is on pace to record in 2018. This comes after the team allowed just 39 goals in 2017 and, incidentally, is the number that Toronto let in last season.

3 - The number of away wins Atlanta has in 2018, which represents a 3 game winning streak away from home.

4 - The number of away wins Atlanta had in 2017, which is just one more than the number the team has with just four matches played away from MBS in 2018.

56% - The percentage of Atlanta’s 23 goals scored by Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez. This probably isn’t terrible, but don’t think too deeply about what that means when Almiron is sold for $300 million over the summer or you will be starring in your own episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia titled ‘The gang does analytics.’

10 - The number of goals Atlanta United has allowed in 9 games in 2018.

6 - The number of goals Atlanta United has allowed in its 8 game unbeaten streak.

75% - Atlanta’s winning percentage on the road in 2018. It’s totally sustainable and the team will definitely get 38 points on the road this year.

81 - The number of points Atlanta United is on track to score.

5 - The number of home games Atlanta has played this year.

4 - The number of away games Atlanta has played this year.

3, 5, 4, 1, 2, 4, 3, 3 - The number of wins in un-sequential order that Atlanta’s opponents have in 2018.

73 - Atlanta’s magic number to win the Supporters’ Shield in 2018 according to this Twitter account, which is the new best thing on the internets:

11 - The longest unbeaten streak Toronto FC had in 2017.

So what does this tell us - is it as simple as there are just “lies, damn lies, and statistics” as great mathematician Mark Twain once said? Maybe Atlanta United is just a flat track bully or perhaps statistics are just a cudgel that can be used to fit whatever narrative someone wants to assert. That usually isn’t the case and stats can be really helpful and informative. But it begs the question, can Atlanta United simply just not be mathematically explained? Perhaps this is just a fun post and I’m saying this here in case the jokes are going over someone’s head before anyone decides to overreact and @ me.

Dilly Dilly, have a great day!

*Andrew Shue did not actually play against Stern John actually in fact, actually.