Welcome to Partially Obstructed View. We are each restrained by the limits of our own perspective, but when we meet to share information a clearer picture of the truth can be revealed. Comments & criticisms are welcome.

Friday 7 June 2013

Are Late Allowances Solely a TFC problem?

    Having looked at the nine goals Toronto FC has allowed in the final quarter of an hour, if only superficially, yesterday – further investigation is definitely warranted, perhaps there will be time next week – today the question is whether this is a TFC problem alone or an affliction of MLS?

    Including Wednesday night’s match, 322 goals have been scored in MLS; of those 93 have come in the final fifteen minutes of matches.

    That is to say, 28.8% of goals are scored late in MLS matches. That is a disproportionate number of goals – slightly less than one-third scored in one-sixth of the match.

    Considering that section of the match as one-sixth of the overall match is a misnomer, as stoppage-time generally extends those fifteen minutes by as many as five more, but for the purposes of this discussion that is not an issue.

    Toronto FC has allowed nine such goals – of 19 against or 47.4% of their concessions – a figure significantly higher than the average.

    Two other teams have similarly allowed nine goals in that time frame – Los Angeles (9 of 15) and Chivas (9 of 26).

    LA’s number is of particular interest, as it accounts for a staggering 60% of there goals against, though that figure is exaggerated by a recent loss to New England, where three goals were scored after the 75th minute.

    Speaking of the Revolution - the league’s stingiest defense with nine goals against through thirteen matches - they have allowed six goals after the 75-minute mark - 66.6% of their goals allowed. Yikes.

    In fact, there is no team in MLS that has not allowed a goal in the final quarter of an hour and only two sides that have only conceded once in that time frame. Unsurprisingly they are two of the more assured defenses – Seattle and Kansas City, who are in the top three in goals against.

    Meanwhile, other clubs with percentages similar to TFC, New York who has allowed eight (42.1%) and Dallas seven (41.2%), while even the vaunted Montreal defense has allowed six (40%) – in just twelve matches no less.

    All three of those teams are firmly entrenched in the playoff race, while Toronto languishes at the bottom of the standings. So why is this?

    MLS can be a curious league at times. Inequalities between attacking talent and defensive quality, exacerbated by bizarre refereeing decisions, irregular scheduling and travel considerations make an uneven playing field even more difficult to handicap – try predicting a weekend’s worth of results, it’s difficult.

    Of course, this partial examination does not take into account a variety of factors which may well prove decisive, be it the score at the time – namely, whether the goals are inconsequential or directly affect the destination of points - whether a match is at home or away, etcetera.

    Regardless, it is evident that late-goals are a regular feature of MLS matches, not just a TFC problem.

    Toronto’s deficiency lies not in the late concessions – though they do not help, but in the lack of production at the other end.

    New York, Dallas, and Montreal – currently the top three teams in the league – have all conceded a similar proportion of their goals in that final frame of the match, but have the firepower up front to make the damage done by such eventual missteps less consequential.

    Montreal averages 1.83 goals per match, Dallas 1.64 and New York 1.44, while TFC scores less than 1 (0.92).

    It is much more damaging to concede a late goal when one can only score one per game.

    No doubt it has been dramatic that with such regularity Toronto has conceded at the end of matches – in one three game run they allowed goals in the 92nd, 93rd and 94th minutes - and that repetition has heightened the awareness of the flaw.

   It is not a shortcoming that is theirs alone, nor is it why they trail in the standings.


  1. interesting. do the percentages change all that much if you limit it to injury time, or the last 5 minutes. I can't see tfc's number's going down that much, how about the rest of the league?

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