Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Breaking down Global’s 2-1 win over Stallion

This appears in

Breaking down Global’s 2-1 win over Stallion
by rick olivares

Largely because of the success of Barcelona and to some extent Borussia Dortmund, every one equates possession-based football and ball dominance with wins.

I don’t claim to be a stats guru or one who has a doctorate in sabermetrics but clearly there is something to be learned.

Last night, Global came from a one-goal deficit to pip Stallion, 2-1, taking the season series.

Having been a stats freak for quite some time, I started out to improve the stats taking in the UFL by briefing all the statisticians on how to properly take them and what to jot down. And we have reams of notes that I hope to explain and make note of by season’s end.

In the PBA, I tried for two matches to test the theory of shot clock management and I did that with the Alaska Aces to which then-head coach Tim Cone said it was interesting and validated some of his thinking.

Last week, I tried to get numbers on pass completions with Harimau Muda-Loyola match in the Singapore Cup. The margin for error is little. If ever, I missed a pass or two but it is more or less accurate.

I tried this out last night when Cedelf Tupas asked me to do it for the Global-Stallion game.

And here’s what came off it:

The team with fewer possessions won. I wish I took more of this data from the season but I can only do so much. But doing some research, here’s a study on Major League Soccer from 2011 as well as another one from a fan that shows that teams with fewer possessions wins the matches.

Both Global and Stallion are teams that hold the ball well and are the two best defensive sides in the UFL. Their tight marking and pressing disrupted their trademark passing.

So I went back to my notes and took a look at the pertinent first half possessions.

‘2: Stallion four passes then header attempt by Rufo Sanchez
‘3: Global seven passes
‘4: Stallion five passes then free kick for Kim Hyo Il
‘5: Stallion three passes then free kick for Lee Won Hyung
‘6: Global two passes then Jeff Christiaens header attempt
‘8: Global one passes then Misagh shot high
’12: Global two passes then Izzo EL Habbib miss point blank
‘14: Stallion eight passes then Rufo Sanchez miss point blank
’18: Global one pass Izzo El Habbib & Jeff Christiaens miss
’23: Stallion three passes Rufo Sanchez shot to Roland Sadia
’24: Stallion three passes Hector Zaghi goal, 1-0.
’25: Global four passes
’27: Stallion four passes
’33: Stallion one pass for corner that Jeremy Hohn header attempt
’34: Global four passes
’35-onwards: Stallion three passes
Stallion three passes
Stallion four passes
’39: Stallion five passes Lee Joo Young shot blocked
’42: Global six passes
’45: Stallion six passes

That’s 13 pertinent possessions for Stallion with eight attempts as opposed to the eight of Global. Now you may say that Stallion dominated possession but Global has an economy of movement or with five shot attempts. Two of those attempts came off passes. Let’s hold that point for a while longer.

Here are the number of times both sides has one-pass possessions that didn’t go anywhere due to steals or poor passes:
Global: 33
Stallion: 31

Here are the pertinent second half possessions by both sides:
’46: Global four passes
Global five passes
’47: Stallion one passes Bervic Italia shot high
’49: Stallion five passes
’50: Stallion five passes
’52: Global one pass Jeff Christiaens cross
’52: Stallions one pass Bonhevi attempt
’54: Global eight passes Izzo El Habbib head flick to Ben Starosta for Goal, 1-1
’55: Stallion three passes
’57: Stallion one pass Rufo Sanchez attempt
’58: Global three passes
’59: Global two passes Marwin Angeles header attempt
’62: Stallion three passes
’63: Global two passes Marwin Angeles cross
Global three passes
’64: Global four passes Izzo El Habbib shot to Guilherme Hasegawa
’65: Global Jeff Christiaens free kick to Guilherme Hasegawa
’70: Stallion three passes
’71: Stallion one pass Rufo Sanchez miss attempt
’73: Stallion five passes
’74: Stallion Free kick by Kim Hyo Il to Nate Alquiros header attempt
Stallion eight passes
’77: Stallion three passes
’78: Global one pass Izzo EL Habbib beats Jeremy Hohn who stumbles then hits past Guilherme Hasegawa for 2-1 lead
’83: Stallion three passes Kim Hyo Il free kick
’87: Stallion four passes Joaco Cañas head flick to Rufo Sanchez shot high
’88: Stallion eight passes
’92: Stallion two passes Ruben Doctora Jr. miss attempt

That’s 17 pertinent possessions for Stallion with seven attempts as opposed to the eight of Global. Once more, Stallion dominated possession but Global had seven shot attempts.

Here are the number of times both sides has one-pass possessions that didn’t go anywhere due to steals or poor passes:
Global: 23
Stallion: 28

What can we infer?

One, both sides generally rack up long ball possession and string up longer passes. Against top sides, the pass rates go down. The defense did it as well!

Two, it now becomes a matter of quick strikes. Meaning, one or two passes then take a shot. Global couldn’t get the ball moving up the field so they would send the ball high, dribble, pass, run then shoot. And they were very effective with it.

And three, those quick strike goals came from a pass. Two goals from two assists. It helped that Global was able to get the ball inside the box.

Four, this might not reflect in the pass-rate numbers but Global plays the full 90 minutes while Stallion plays well for -three-fourths of the way then falters.

I know it’s just one match and I hope to try this again and see what other data can be gleaned from the matches. However, it does jibe with those MLS studies. It could be something, maybe nothing but we’ll see.



  1. Bob Guerrero did mention in his blog entry that you were counting the completed passes like a metronome. The effort was well worth it. Lovely insight into making the most of one's possession. :)

  2. Been waiting for something like this in the UFL. Good start! As they say, numbers don't lie and statistics reveal naked truth. Judging from the game though, I suspect a lot of the SSLFC passes were side to side or back passes while the GFC had more straightforward forward passes (economical like you mentioned). We all know which is more important. The Bayern-Barca tie comes to mind.

    And agree with you, the hard pressing in the 2nd half unsettled the SSLFC defense. Same thing happened against KFC and for most part of the PDFC game. What was amazing was that the body language and the faces of the defense clearly showed their discomfort. Might be difficult during live games but on TV the frustration and clueless faces were revealed.

    On another note, Bob G. lamented that only 5 Fils started in last night's game. With the title on the line, with arguably the biggest game of the season, I'd start with the strongest lineup. Regardless of race. Regardless of fan favorites. Your thoughts on this?

    Btw, what happened to Reichelt? I thought everyone was available for the match from both teams.

    1. Hamstring injury. He'll miss the Singapore game as well, and the Azkals vs HK friendly.

  3. This was the best football game on TV , maybe not the thriller thriller kind of goals . but the game it self , passing , attack , defense , runs , attempts . that was good if not a excellent football game . We could see the quality of the game not only from the foreigners but from the locals . anung silbi nung puru pinoy ang maglalaro kung basura naman ang laro ? I'm a stallion fan , respect for both sides for playing a good game . sana ganito ang mga laro sa UFL . IF only the game in UFL continue like this . Just like you Ric , filipino's need to watch Rufo , for forward smarts . filipinos idolized messi , ronaldo , ronaldhino , but why not idolized el habib or rufo ? grassroots is not only done in the training ground , but youth from grassroots needed good talents that they can see or inspired by up-close .