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Tony Beltran was the U.S.’s best player against Canada

Jan 31, 2013, 4:50 PM EDT

Remember that super funmiserable match against Canada on Tuesday? You know, the one where nothing happened. No, you don’t? Well… let us jog your memory:

Still nothing?

Okay, fine, you really did bury it. We can’t blame you. But trust us, the game happened. It was a listless 0-0 draw, one in which almost nothing happened. It’s hard to quantify a match like that with the naked eye, you know? You make some observations, you think some things you think you think, you bluster, you pontificate, but do you really know anything? I mean, we pretend we do, but we don’t really. The eyes can be such liars.

You know what would help? Stats and numbers.

Enter the Castrol Index. In a new collaboration, U.S. Soccer is posting brief reports along with some figures from each game.

The result from Tuesday: Matt Besler (744 points) was the team’s best player, closely followed by Omar Gonzalez (718). That’s good news for the “oh man, we really need a center back” camp of U.S. watchers, so basically everyone.

Except the numbers can be deceiving. (Well, that ruins the premise of the post. Bear with…) The actual best performer was none other than Real Salt Lake outside back Tony Beltran. He only played a half, but managed to pick up 460 points. Double that and you end up with 920, way above the pace Besler set. Even if you assume Beltran would have had a worse second half, he would only need less than 300 points to eclipse the Sporting Kansas City center back. While we’re here, Kyle Beckerman’s 665 poins in 74 minutes was ahead of the Besler pace as well.

The worst man on the pitch? That would be Chris Wondolowski, who managed just 250 points in 45 minutes. Anecdotally, he didn’t play well either, missing a lot of chances and half-chances.

Sometimes, the math and the observations correlate nicely.

  1. dfstell - Jan 31, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    Is there a description for how the Castrol Index is calculated? I’m not opposed to this kind of statistical analysis; I kinda like it, in fact.

    BUT….when your formula burps out answers that are so at odds with what your eyeballs see, that’s when you know you must fix your formula. It is doing something to over-reward pass completion rates? Does that explain why defensive minded players are ruling the rankings in a game where the US dominated possession and the defense didn’t have much to do?

    Or….did the formulas take any points away from Beltran for totally losing DeRo on that early opportunity (the one Sean Johnson saved) or do they take points away for killing the flow of a promising offensive move by taking a bad touch?

    Back to the drawing board for this formula…. :)

    • wandmdave - Feb 1, 2013 at 10:06 AM

      There is a small FAQ which gives the broad strokes of how the index is calculated.

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