Chicago House AC 2 Stumptown AC 1: Nooga by the Numbers 2021 Rewind

Not familiar with xG? Click here!

This match was already next on my list to see more of Rod Underwood in action, but given Chattanooga FC’s signing activities of the last week, there’s much to see in this late season matchup between Chicago House AC and Stumptown (Stumpnooga?) AC at the SeatGeek Stadium. Four of CFC’s new signings started (three for Stumptown, one for Chicago) as Chicago House found a 2-1 victory over Stumptown.

Much of the game was spent in a scuffle of attrition; neither team was able to settle into a rhythm as both opted for a high tempo, high press game. Nearly every touch was challenged, with neither team opting to sit back behind the ball. Chicago House pressed really high up, recording more possession in Stumptown’s half than their own. 63% of the battle took place in the middle of the park, with the two teams sharing under 15% of the ball in attacking areas, meaning most of the chances created came from quick counterattacking play. In the melee, chances fell to both teams throughout both halves. Stumptown found the back of the net first, but the ball had just edged out of bounds in the build up to rule out the goal. The teams went in level at the break but came back out with the same intensity, and Chicago House finally put one past the Stumps in the 53rd minute. Colin Stripling looked to have pulled back a point for Stumptown in the 79th minute, but Chicago pulled ahead in the 86th minute and didn’t give Stumptown another sniff at goal.

Of the new signings, I was happiest with Franky Martinez; very calm and collected on the ball, not drawn into unnecessary tackles, but physical when necessary. Stripling got Stumptown’s only goal of the game, and Cerro was involved in much of what was good in Chicago’s build up play. Both teams created plenty of chances, but neither midfield (nor standout new CFC signing) was really able to take control of the game. Stumptown’s woes once again came from a lack of target men up front to put the chances away. I’m certainly excited to see who Chattanooga FC signs up front for the 2022 season, as they will no doubt be backed up by one of the most talented midfields in the league. At the time of writing, Brett Jones is the only forward listed on CFC’s website; maybe we’ll see more soon!

Thank you for your support so far! I can’t wait to write these as the games happen rather than months later. Thanks!

Chattanooga FC 1 Michigan Stars FC 0: Nooga by the Numbers 2021 Rewind

Chattanooga FC came out on top in their final home game of the Fall 2021 season with a one-nil win over Michigan Stars FC courtesy of Damien Rodriguez’s first goal of his professional career. Three points were needed to keep CFC’s hopes of a top half finish alive and that’s exactly what the players and fans got on a cold night at Finley Stadium.

Not familiar with xG? Click here!

The game was a tale of two halves as CFC were quick off the blocks at the beginning of the game, dominating proceedings especially for the opening 25 minutes. CFC ended the first half with just about 60% of the possession, in threatening areas too. Michigan Stars failed to capitalize on a few dangerous fast breaks, and were ultimately punished when Damien Rodriguez slotted home in the 29th minute. Both defenses worked well in general to prevent that final pass needed to get a shot away, with only a few, high quality chances coming along. The game in general felt pretty slow- the ball was dead for nearly 18 minutes in the first half, with all sorts of throw ins and goal kicks being taken with no rush (for reference, the ball was dead for only 10 minutes in the first half of CFC v Stumptown).

The Stars realigned in the second half as Michigan flipped the possession script, holding the ball for much of the half in the middle of the park. In this flurry of possession, the Stars generated 1.07 xG, including a justly awarded penalty that was smashed onto the bar by Kyle Nuel. Alec Redington was called into action to make a few crucial saves in the dying moments of the game, ensuring that his clean sheet remained intact. Once again the game was played without much urgency, especially from the lead holders CFC. It felt like the ball was in Redington’s gloves most of the half, whether from claiming a cross or taking his time on a spot kick. Both keepers were bold in coming off their lines; the Stars’ penalty came from a failed Redington claim, and Zimbabwean international keeper Tatenda Mkuruva nearly crossed the halfway line a few times to win the ball. They both had me nervous!

Overall, Chattanooga FC may consider themselves lucky to walk away with three points; the Stars generated plenty of chances and Kyle Nuel was unlucky to miss his penalty attempt as well as a one-on-one chance in the first half that he fired over the bar. However, CFC were rewarded for their high press from the first whistle. The true star of the night was Damien Rodriguez, showing that dreams do come true as the Dalton native took his chance to shine with a goal in the 29th minute.

Stumptown AC 0 Chattanooga FC 1: Nooga by the Numbers 2021 Rewind

Chattanooga FC’s season ending trip to the Stumplex in Matthews, NC saw the Boys in Blue emerge victorious with a one-nil win over Stumptown AC. It was not a vintage performance but the three points were enough to see CFC rise to the top half of the NISA table after a campaign where we may have hoped for a bit more. We can look back on this match with extra intrigue as Stumptown’s then head coach Rod Underwood has since crossed over the mountains to join Chattanooga FC.

Not familiar with expected goals (xG)? Click here!

We can certainly empathize with Stumptown supporters who may feel that they deserved something from the match. Rod Underwood employed a possession-hungry “four-two-freedom” lineup that did very well retaining the ball and pinning in CFC for much of the game. Stumptown reached a staggering 63.8% possession, of which 38% was spent in CFC’s half of the pitch. This possession was not devoid of threat, with the team accumulating an xG of 1.48. Stumptown’s commentators on Eleven Sports touched on the topic of goal scoring throughout the match. The club has struggled massively to score throughout the season, and frankly doesn’t have an out-and-out striker to rely on. On a side note, I’m excited to see if this trend of Stumptown underscoring is constant throughout the season- I think we have some great strikers at CFC and if Underwood soccer is really creating chances then CFC will thrive this coming season!

Chattanooga FC sprung a few surprises in their lineup, opting to use a rarely seen back four and pushing the defensive stalwart Nick Spielman into more of a stopper position. Sitting back on 36.2% possession (with 61% in their own half) meant that CFC needed real quality in their outlets when they won the ball. Two players stood out the most going forward. James Kasak (who gave Stumptown nightmares in the reverse fixture) and Damien Rodriguez were CFC’s best players on the field, displaying great quality and skill as they provided CFC with progressive movement and passing. Rodriguez was the best of the lot providing quality end product as well, sending in crosses that resulted in a shot off the upright from Markus Naglestad in the first half and the lone goal (scored by Brett Jones or a Robert Hines own goal? Depends on who you ask) to seal the deal, even netting once himself, although it was called back for offsides. In total, CFC racked up an xG of 1.1, justly reflected in the score.

There were no big surprises in terms of flow of the game, with CFC starting the best in each half and Stumptown growing into each half. CFC did let Stumptown have a few quality looks on goal but they were of course unable to convert. Most of these chances didn’t even hit the frame; Alec Redington got his clean sheet, but the Stumptown strikers didn’t make him work very hard for it.

All in all, although it wasn’t Chattanooga’s best night out, they walked away with three points against a well structured Stumptown team that has struggled to score.

What is Expected Goals (xG)?

“Expected goals measures the quality of chances and how often we expect them to be scored.

All goals count the same in soccer, but some are a lot more difficult to put into the back of the net than others. Take for example these two goals scored by CFC last season:

Both of these goals go down as a shot on target and a goal, but just looking at the two we can see that Damien’s goal was a bit harder to convert than Markus’s; if we gave them both the same chance a hundred times, we would expect Markus to find the back of the net more often. Is there some way to quantify that difference? Of course! Expected goals measures the quality of chances and how often we expect them to be scored. Now, instead of seeing only the number of shots a team has taken, we can see how often we might expect them to score with all the chances they have in a match. This helps when looking at the flow of matches, as we can now tell if a team is creating quality chances or just getting lucky with wonder goals. We often find ourselves thinking “we deserved more from that match” or “we got away with that one” and now we have the numbers to back up our statements.

So, for the two chances above, our NISA xG model (which still needs more training before the season starts) thinks that shots similar to Damien’s will go in about 1% of the time at the NISA level, while Markus’s would go in about 61% of the time. This does a much better job at summarizing chances than flatly stating that both were shots on target.

How exactly is this xG model created? How is this one NISA specific? We’ll post about that soon!

Welcome to the Scenic City Football Blog!

There are few things in life that can bring everyone together. Cute pets and ice cream are good, but nothing unites us more than our love for Chattanooga FC, the greatest club in our beautiful scenic city. Scenic City Football Blog is my attempt to blog about everyone’s favorite club, looking analytically at CFC’s results on the pitch as well as dictating my thoughts on the club in general. This is definitely a work in progress so if you have any comments or suggestions don’t hesitate to reach out!

The blog format is still a work in progress, but these are likely going to be the three main content areas I write in:

Nooga by the Numbers

The results on the pitch are one of the foremost outputs of Chattanooga FC and the Scenic City Football Blog is working hard to bring unique match summaries and statistics to you the reader. Look forward to unparalleled reviews of every CFC match including territorial possession and expected goals statistics.

Chattahooligan Chatter

This section may or may not survive in the long haul, but it’s dedicated to more opinion/information based writing. I’ll write about my favorite experiences with CFC, players to watch, and more like that. It would be super awesome if this developed into a forum/discussion sort of space- if you’re reading this and think you’d like to try your hand at some writing, I’d love to post your content too!

Statta! Nooga!

I am a data science nerd at heart and in the background I’ll be messing around with some statistical programming, starting with an expected goals model specific to NISA play. I’ll occasionally post about these models to look fancy. I imagine not everyone will want to see this, which is why it’s getting sectioned off.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading and I hope you’ll enjoy the Scenic City Football Blog this year!