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Canary in the Coal Mine. The LA Galaxy have a shot problem

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Want to read a worrying stat? In 22 games, the Galaxy have only out-shot their opponents 4 times and only 2 times in a game where a red card was not handed out to the Galaxy's opponent. Below is a game by game breakdown of the mess.

I am hardly the first to write about this topic. Matt Doyle has written about it, and was called a moron by Bruce Arena for doing so. That link will take you to an article about the incident where you can watch Brue Arena's comments and read my criticisms of them.  In short, Bruce is wrong to assert that things like shot totals are irrelevant. While far from the best predictor of future results, shot totals do a better job than if one were to simply use points per game. For a thorough explanation of this,  I implore you to read the piece.

Of course, as I point out in that article, shot totals are a stat that have some glaring weaknesses. Weaknesses which an expected goals approach can, for the most part, do away with.

Expected goals is a metric which assigns a percentage chance of a shot being converted based on league averages from similar locations and under similar circumstances. It's a system that works a lot better than shot totals, and, if you want a demonstration of how effective they are—you guessed it—it's all in my piece which I linked above.

In a nutshell, the biggest issues with Total Shot Ratio (TSR) analysis is that it weighs all shots equally, when, as we all know, some shots are better than others.

Take the Galaxy's game in Portland which Bruce Arena  famously used to launch into a tirade against analytics. Portland had 9 more shots than the Galaxy that game, but the Galaxy were 0.8 expected goals better on the night. In other words, Portland's shots were bad ones whereas the Galaxy's shots were good.

While the Galaxy have been out-shot in 18 games this year, they actually won the expected goals battle in 8 of those games, outlined in red.

While differences in shot quality can cut out 44% of the games a basic shot analysis would mark as red flags, we're still left with 10 games and a far from random correlation between shots and xG.

So, that stat I lead the article with isn't as worrying as it initially sounds. It is, however, still a major problem and an indication that the Galaxy have major offensive issues which need to be addressed ASAP without risk of crashing out of the supporters shield race and possibly even landing in the same dreaded position of last year, needing a win on the road to advance in the playoffs.

And for those that wish to answer this article with "look at the standings" based analysis, I need only point you, once again, to the problems with Bruce Arena's tirade.