Road Warriors - Seattle Sounders

The Seattle Sounders have one of the most advanced statistics programs in MLS. And while I don't have a specific gauge that tracks the effectiveness and efficiency of their statistical analysis it's a good bet their approach has had some level of influence in how their organization performed this year.

And a reasonable measurement on team performance is how well a team performs on the road; especially in Major League Soccer.

Only 5 teams performed well on the road this year and Seattle was one of those teams:


So how well did they perform in the points per game; the measurement most feel comfortable with?

Of the five teams, Seattle had the highest average PPG (1.59) while Portland and Sporting KC averaged 1.47 PPG, compared to the Crew and Galaxy, who averaged 1.24 PPG.

Bottom line here is the Sounders scored goals and were tied with SKC for the most wins (eight) of any team on the road this year. Portland was next up with seven wins, while Columbus and LA Galaxy had five wins a piece.

All told, those five teams (alone) accounted for 33 road wins this year - nearly half the total road wins (77) for the entire 19 team league.

Moving on to the Attacking PWP Strategic Index (On the Road):


Seattle are first in this Index and below are the details on how they compared to the rest of MLS; perhaps there is an indicator or two that jumps out on why they were better on the road than everyone else?

Possession - 48.52% - seems they looked to play counter for the most part - working with the intent to make time and space as the adrenaline of the Home team perhaps got in the way of a more sensible approach against this very strong attacking team.

By contrast their average possession at home was 53.20%. Seems reasonable that the Sounders worked to take advantage of the home team intent to push extra hard playing in front of their home crowd.

Not 'the' indicator but certainly one to keep an eye on...
Passing Accuracy - 78.81% - 4th best of any team on the road - quality - so regardless of volume, when Seattle did the get ball they usually were pretty accurate in keeping it.

It's interesting to see that their passing accuracy at home was lower (78.76%) - perhaps Seattle felt that intent to push a bit harder at home too...

Again, probably not the sole indicator but interesting to note their passing accuarcy was higher on the road than at home.
Percentage of Penetration with overall Possession - 21.95% - 9th best - so in considering all the other data reviewed about volume of passing it would appear the Sounders were, for the most part, selective in their penetration per possession.

This isn't meant to say they didn't offer up quick counter-attacking - but what it does indicate is that they worked towards patience, perhaps when the opportunity didn't present itself, and then looked to capitalize when the time and space was there.

And in considering they took 27 points on the road this year it's a good bet they were accurate when it came to finding the net.

By contrast, that same percentage wsa 23.79% at home - again - (perhaps?) the intent to push a bit harder at home versus laying in wait to capitalize a bit more on the road.

On it's own, probably not the only indicator of value for road games.
Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession - 17.22% - ranks 12th overall in MLS. A good point to bring up here is that lower is usually better for teams who are more accurate in passing.

Lower, again, usually indicates more patience - and to drive that point home - the team with the highest Shots Taken per Penetrating Possession this year was?

Montreal. And Montreal had the worst average to go along with the fewest PPG on the road (.29)!

In viewing this performance indicator at home the Sounders averaged 16.57% - so while slightly more driven in penetration, at home, they did pull the throttle back when pulling the trigger on shots taken.

For me a pattern of patience and reading/interpretting on field weaknesses by the opponent, is beginning to take shape.
Shots on Goal per Shots Taken - 38.72% - ranks 4th best overall - and really drives home the point about patience in attack.

With more (percieved) selectivity in their Shots Taken they were far more successful in putting those shots on goal.

Montreal, the (bad example) was 35.17% in this category - 12th best (8th worst).

In looking at their home performance Seattle were 3rd best at 41.16%.

At the risk of repeating myself - their percieved patience in penetration and possession within the final third seems to have netted a high percentage in seeing their shots taken end up on goal; just like they behaved on the road.

Another notch in the patience and clinical ability to find weaknesses in the opponent positional play (maximizing time and space) to set up shots that have the best chance of being on goal.
Finally, the critical performance indicator for most - Goals Scored per Shots on Goal - 45.39% - best in MLS.

Montreal, the Goofus, compared to Seattle, the Gallant (did I just say that?) was 5th worst at 24.60%. Clearly haste makes waste in this category.

Bottom line here - there really wasn't a single 'statistical indicator' that showed best with respect to their attacking performance. What stands out more to me is the 'perceived' consistency in patience and purpose of their possession.

In Closing:

Without going into great detail here's the 'On the Road' Defending PWP Strategic Index:


They weren't the best in defending but I do feel and think, in this instance, their continued consistency of patience and precision in attack simply overwhelmed less organized teams.

As teams improve in defending next year it is likely goals scored will decrease - meaning even more tactical options will be needed to create time and space in the opponents final third.

For now, I'd expect Seattle to ride this strong performance all the way through to the finals - and win the MLS Championship Cup.

Best, Chris

You can follow me on twitter @chrisgluckpwp where I cover all teams in MLS, plus the EPL, Bundesliga, La Liga, and the UEFA Champions League

FanPosts only represent the opinions of the poster, not of Sounder at Heart.