Time for a math lesson. 192 sq. ft. is the area of a soccer goal (8’ x 24’). New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner is 6’3”. Without extending his arms or jumping, that means he can cover an arc with an area of 61.36 sq. ft. (π6.252/2). Therefore, from directly in front of goal and with Turner standing on his line, a striker only has 68% of the total goal area to shoot at with any reasonable expectation of success.
However, most shots are not taken from directly in front of goal and with the keeper on his line. Unless they are penalty kicks, that is…
From the penalty spot, a striker has 36.9° of arc (2atan(12/36)) to shoot at. To fully cover that arc, Turner would have to come 17’3” off his line (36-6.25(36/12)). From either corner of the goal area, that arc reduces to 21.8° (45-atan(6/14)). That leaves Turner with a width to cover of just 9’8” (2√(2(182))sin(21.8/2)). And from either corner of the penalty area it drops to a puny 10.3° (45-atan(18/26)) and a coverage width of 13’9” (2√(2(542))sin(10.3/2)). And that doesn’t take into account all the other defenders trying to get in the way.*
All of which is to say: finishing isn’t easy. But it’s not necessarily too hard either. Another measure of difficulty is the dreaded xG stat. There are various ways of computing this one (which I am not even going to attempt to imitate), but MLS’ own Ben Baer has it at 2.53 for Atlanta United last night. Which was the story of this game. Atlanta created numerous good goalscoring chances but failed to convert.
The positive side of all this is that seasons have a habit of regressing to the mean. Simply put, we can expect that Atlanta’s goalscoring will at some point move closer to its xG stat. Even now, the Five Stripes are scoring at a rate faster than all but 2 other teams (New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo, who would still be in that position even without their lopsided wins against us) and have a per-game goal differential better than everyone except Sporting KC and NYRB. For some more detail on this, check Ben Baer’s article a couple of weeks ago which shows Atlanta with a league-high xG and 3rd best xGA, and actual scoring very close to those numbers.
Yes, it’s been frustrating of late, but there is no need for panic.
I’ve fried my brain with numbers, but I have to keep going. Here are the Dirty South Soccer Staff Player Ratings:
Man of the Match goes to Jeff Larentowicz. It doesn’t really show in the stats, but he was a rock in defense on Wednesday. Special Mention goes to Josef Martinez, who was the Josef we’ve grown to know and love.
GK: Brad Guzan – 6.5. Brad had 5 saves on the evening, a performance marred only by the penalty kick goal and the ensuing yellow card as he skyed the ball into the stands in frustration.
LB: Chris McCann – 7. McCann had a decent if unmemorable game. However, he touched the ball more and had more passes than either of his backline teammates. 3 interceptions, 4 clearances, 2 blocks.
CB: Michael Parkhurst – 8. Parky was as reliable as ever, although he was never really strongly tested. 1 interception, 4 clearances, 2 blocks. It is also worth noting that Parky is 3rd on the team in minutes played behind only Miguel Almiron and Darlington Nagbe, having missed only 1 start and 39 minutes of game time.
RB: Franco Escobar –7. Did well in return from injury and managed to stay sufficiently clear of Guzan’s big meaty hands. 5 interceptions, 3 blocks.
LWB: Mikey Ambrose – 7. Mikey’s second senior game of the season, and this was evidence of the value of having a USL squad to keep players down the depth chart quality game time. He played in a generally more attacking position than Gressel on the opposite wing, and played the ball more often. Also, his passing, although less significant, was far more accurate:
Mikey only played one unsuccessful ball into the box all night. On the defensive side, he led the team with 7 blocks.
LDM: Jeff Larentowicz – 8. As previously noted, Larry was excellent in defending this game. He was in fact a one-man wall cutting off the attacking third. His personal heatmap (you didn’t think I was going to post without one, did you?):
RDM: Darlington Nagbe – 7. Like Larry, Nagbe’s quality doesn’t always show up on the stats sheet. Nevertheless, he was a meaningful force in this game, especially in the second half.
RWB: Julian Gressel – 7. Julian will probably never get an easier assist. This one was, frankly, gifted to him by the entire Revs defense, who just stared at it as if it were going to stop on its own. He’d get a lower score given the poor passing shown above, but he provided solid defensive support just like Ambrose.
CAM: Miguel Almiron – 8. Miggy has played every minute so far this season, but doesn’t look like he’s slowing down any. He took 4 shots, but only 2 were on target and both of those from long range. He played wide left almost all game, but bossed the field anyway. He had a monstrous 96 touches on the night.
FWD: Josef Martinez – 8. Back on the scoresheet and back into the Golden Boot lead. That will do wonders for his confidence. He was also very comfortable dropping back into midfield, which we will likely see more of if Atlanta remain in the 3-5-2 formation. For those keeping count, he was caught offside just once, and well outside the 18 (by comparison, New England’s Teal Bunbury was off 3 times). Cam off after 79 minutes.
FWD: Ezequiel Barco – 8. Barco’s improvement continues every game. He was desperately unlucky not to score off the crossbar. However, if there is one thing he needs to work on, it’s pulling the trigger faster, whether in passing or shooting. Exited the game in the 85th minute.
SUB: Romario Williams – 7. Replaced Josef in a more or less like-for-like switch. Showed some good movement but was ultimately unable to generate even a single shot.
SUB: Kevin Kratz – 4. Basically blew it at both ends. His foul (and yes, it was definitely a foul) gave up the equalizer and he did a Wondolowski impression at the other end to miss out on repenting and regaining the lead.
COACH: Tata Martino – 7. Didn’t seem to have the team ready to play in the first half, but clearly got them energized for the second. However, his (heavily disguised) complaints about the refereeing were misplaced
HALF-TIME INTERVIEW: Aron Hyde – 10. Great accent, no BS, pure gold.
* Go on. Check my math. I did. At least 5 times. If I’m wrong, well, I’m a linguist, not a mathematician.