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We’re Gonna Celebrate and Have a Good Time — American Soccer Analysis

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By Eliot McKinley

Tracking data is the next frontier in soccer analytics. Now that we have access to the location of every player on the field updated 25 times per second, we can measure things like off-ball runs and defensive positioning that were mostly invisible when using only event data. Tracking data holds the potential to unlock the game’s secrets. This article is not going to solve soccer. It is going to solve something arguably even more important: who the best teammates are based on their goal celebrations.

When Metrica released their first few games of anonymized tracking data over a year ago, I first dreamed of using tracking data to revolutionize how we look at goal celebrations. However, with just a handful of games available, and unknown players and teams, this dream would have to wait. But now, thanks to Major League Soccer and Second Spectrum, American Soccer Analysis has access to tracking data from the last couple of years of MLS play and the dream of measuring player celebrations can now be realized.

The sheer size of the data is daunting. Each game has about three million rows of information, on its own, enough to turn a six year old MacBook Air into a searing hot chunk of aluminum choking on the firehose of data firing off its cooling fans in vain. Luckily, in order to determine the best goal celebrators, we don’t need all of this from every game. I restricted my analysis to the 20 seconds after each non-penalty goal scored so far in the 2021 MLS season to date. This way we are looking at a much more palatable 2.1 million rows, something that even an aging laptop can handle without melting into slag or forever spinning the pizza of death.

I’m going to focus on a few simple key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure celebration performances in MLS for individuals and as a team:

  1. Maximum speed attained during the celebration period

  2. Minimum distance to the goal scorer

  3. Distance travelled to reach the goal scorer





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Soccer

‘This is a democracy’ – Equalizer Soccer

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Photo Copyright Hannah di Lorenzo

FIFA’s technical advisory group for the future of women’s soccer was announced on Monday, and while the 21-person group comprised of current and former players, coaches and executives, have been meeting about the holistic future of the sport, the future of the World Cup remains the most pressing global topic.

FIFA is exploring the possibility of a biennial World Cup for the men’s and women’s competitions. On Tuesday, reports emerged that the world governing body informed federations that it will move forward with plans for a Men’s World Cup every two years, following 2026. The future of the women’s game is being handled separately, with two-time World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis leading the group. FIFA president Gianni Infantino spoke in the group’s first meeting, according to United States forward Alex Morgan, who is one of the 21 members being led by Ellis, her former coach.

Ellis said on Monday that no decision has been made yet regarding the future of the World Cup, refuting the idea that a biennial event is a foregone conclusion.

“This has been an education process for me,” Ellis said. “I think I’ve really tried to take the position of listening to everybody and finding out solutions, but to reinforce, this is a democracy. This is going to go to a vote, ultimately.”

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Amanda Vandervort brings wealth of experience to USL Super League – Equalizer Soccer

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Amanda Vandervort knew what she needed to do from the first phone call. It was summer, and Jake Papadakis, the COO of the United Soccer League, was on the other end of the phone with news. The USL was starting a second-division women’s professional league, and they were interested in having Vandervort shape its future.

Vandervort, a longtime soccer executive across various leagues and roles, had recently departed her role as chief women’s football officer at global players’ association FIFPRO, and she was thinking about the next step in her career. She previously worked in MLS for nine years, eventually advancing to vice president of fan engagement. Last week, she was announced as the president of the USL Super League, a women’s professional league which is scheduled to begin play in 2023.

“I was in the women’s game for a long time, helped launch WPS [in 2009],” Vandervort told The Equalizer. “When I left that league and went to men’s soccer, I always knew — I kept working in the women’s game concurrently — but I always knew there was the opportunity to learn as much as I could in the men’s game and ultimately, I knew I would bring that back to the women’s game in my career.”

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Soccer

Three teams are in – Equalizer Soccer

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Washington Spirit players raise their arms in celebration after scoring a goal in North Carolina


Photo Copyright Lewis Gettier for The Equalizer

Claire Watkins and John Halloran break down where each team stands heading into the final games of the regular season. The Thorns have clinched the Shield, and will be joined in the playoffs by OL Reign and the Spirit. The Red Stars, Gotham FC, Dash, and Courage are fighting for the remaining three spots.

Listen to this pod on:  Apple  |  Spotify  |  Google Podcasts  |  Stitcher  |  Anchor  |  PodBean  |  Pocket Casts  |  Breaker  |  Overcast  |  RadioPublic

LISTEN NOW: The Equalizer has a second podcast vertical called “Kickin’ Back.” Jeff Kassouf hosts this interview-based podcast series which will feature casual conversations with some of the game’s biggest names, looking back at some of the biggest moments in their careers. Click here to subscribe on your favorite platform.

Subscribers: Click below for the ad-free version.

Access the best women’s soccer coverage all year long

Start your FREE, 7-day trial of The Equalizer Extra for industry-leading reporting and insight on the USWNT, NWSL and beyond.





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