Flower City Union 1 Chattanooga FC 5: Nooga by the Numbers

Chattanooga FC dominated eastern division foes Flower City Union Saturday night. A four-goal haul from Markus Naglestad highlighted the most dominate performance of any NISA team this season. This was the first time a player netted four times in a game for Chattanooga FC as well as the first of any NISA player.

Chattanooga deserved every goal, generating a whopping 4.35 xG. To put that in perspective, the next highest this season was 3.5 as Maryland blitzed Flower City in week 2. The average has been floating around the 1.5 range. Usually I would include possession too, but without the clock on the eleven broadcast it’s super difficult to track accurately. However, I’m rather confident the field was tilted in Chattanooga’s favor a majority of the match.

Chattanooga had no problem generating chance after chance. There seemed to be some extra impetuous in the CFC attack to possess the ball in dangerous areas and create chance after chance. You can see above that there weren’t that many swathes in the game without some attack, although the team slowed down in the second half having already put the game to bed by halftime.

Markus Naglestad was of course the standout performer, scoring 4 goals from 1.85 xG, the most xG generated by a single player in a NISA game, overtaking Ian Cerro on opening day (remember penalty save and tap-in). It was great seeing the whole team pour forward in attack. Earlier in the season it seemed like players at the top of the Christmas Tree were getting isolated when breaking forward, but CFC threw plenty of bodies forward and the front three felt like a real front three. Markus Naglestad sort of reminds me of Olivier Giroud, holding up the ball to distribute to players around and scoring bangers.

With this result and the extra points against Valley United, Chattanooga FC are poised to take first with a win over Bay Cities on Saturday. It seems like just a few weeks ago we were bottom of the pile, but as I noted then, the team is playing great, fluke results will come, but in the end the proof is in the pudding and this pudding has CFC rising towards the top.

A Note in Methodology

These stats missed the usual 48-hours-after-kickoff window as I realized my xG model was starting to devalue good shots. I was using logistic regression to predict xG, but several outlier shots started to stretch the scale of the regression.

To mix things up, I started using decision trees like the one below. Basically, R takes all the shot observations and starts choosing the best way to split them up into groups. After generating a thousand unique trees, I then find the average outcome to predict the xG of a shot. In the future, I may just use this to pull out the bulk of shots that were never going in and regress the rest. Data exploration like this is why I even started this project. If you have ideas to use feel free to reach out!

As always, thanks for reading!

Maryland Bobcats 1 Chattanooga FC 2: Nooga by the Numbers

Well, that felt good! Chattanooga FC took all three points back to the Scenic City after a win over current East Division leaders Maryland Bobcats. The weather looked horrendous but CFC turned fortunes around to get the first NISA win of the season. New signing Chris Bermudez featured and Markus Naglestad got his first start of the season as Rod Underwood mixed up the lineup for the first time since he was forced to from the Franky Martinez injury.

The game wasn’t full of chances, with neither team generating any high percentage shots. In the end, it was clinical finishing that got CFC the win.

Chattanooga was determined to play out of the back, especially in the first half where nearly 40% of their possession was in their own defensive quarter. In the second half, CFC did a better job stopping the ball further up the field and had more developing play away from their goal. CFC was quick to move the ball forward, and the possession would be tilted much further forward were it not for the efforts of the Maryland backline to keep players offside. The CFC block did very well to keep Maryland away from goal, giving them only long range looks at goal.

After scoring goal number two, Chattanooga really closed up shop on both ends of the field, controlling the game well. Maryland’s goal came from a lucky deflection from a free kick:

But my goodness, what a goal from Alex McGrath, finishing off an olympico:

And of course, returning player Markus Naglestad made the difference in his first start this season:

Overall, that was a good game to watch, and I felt that CFC had control for most of it. I am always blown away by the fluidity of personnel in this formation, with players filling in for each other and rotating around all the time. It looked like the boys in blue knew how important the game was and they played hard for 90 minutes. Let’s hope for more of the same in our return fixture with Flower City next week.

Context in the League

I know there was a lot of disappointment after the loss to FCU last week, but I feel great about CFC’s position right now. I propose a few points:

  • Chattanooga is the only eastern team to have played on a western road trip.
  • Chattanooga is the only eastern team to have played against the statistically best in the league, Valley United
  • Maryland only has wins against Flower City and Syracuse
  • Michigan only has wins against Flower City and Syracuse (by forfeit)
  • Syracuse only has wins against Flower City
  • Over two matches against Maryland, Chattanooga has only conceded from free kicks

Yes, it would have been nice to win our two home games- I think those were just flukes. The results will come in front of the best crowd in NISA. Chattanooga has already gotten some of the worst of the schedule out of the way and can easily top the East if they continue to play like this.

For a more event based, less opinionated summary of the match, visit here.

Chattanooga FC 0 Flower City Union 1: Nooga by the Numbers

Chattanooga FC gifted 3 points to visiting Flower City Union Saturday night, FCU’s first points as a pro team and CFC’s first loss in NISA play of the season.

Chattanooga FC controlled large swathes of the game, keeping massive amounts of possession in dangerous areas- you can see below that CFC had more of the ball in FCU’s half than FCU did.

This possession did not lack threat; chances totaled to 2.37 xG, more than CFC’s previous two NISA games combined (and better than all previous games except against that little team in Memphis- wild).

You can see that for the first ~20 minutes of the second half, CFC didn’t hold much threat, which really changed with about 15 minutes left. The commentators on Eleven correctly noted that one massive difference was the space Brett Jones had in behind the defense of FCU. I’m not intelligent enough to know how that changed, but CFC had a lot of joy putting balls over and through the defense for Brett Jones to run onto in the first half. Brett did get called offside several times at the beginning of the second half- FCU’s backline must’ve talked it out at the half. It also seems to me that Ian Cerro and Taylor Gray struggled to get on the ball in the second half, and they got subbed off for Damian Rodriguez and Roddy Green Jr. who did wonders in re-establishing the attacking threat. I don’t know what to think of those last 15 minutes other than CFC was just massively unlucky. The guys pinned in FCU, put in all sorts of corners and crosses, hit the woodwork three times; not much more you can do tactically, the ball just has to find the back of the net.

If I had to have a criticism of the “Christmas Tree” formation and how it’s played out the last few matches, it might be that the 4-3-2-1 seems to become a 4-5-1 rather than 4-3-3 which leaves Brett Jones isolated pretty often. We’ve seen some incredible footwork and work rate from Brett Jones, but it seems like he often isn’t getting enough support to take advantage of some breakaways where he then has no option but to shoot. It would be cool to see a second striker for more than twenty minutes.

I’m interested to see if the lineup changes next weekend. Roddy Green Jr. has looked really good coming on the last few games, plus started on opening weekend, so he’s my pick for most likely to shake up the lineup. But, of course, I trust Rod and Co. to make the best decisions for the team.

The fullbacks were also standout performers for me this game, doing really well to step and make interceptions as well as overlap in attack. They probably do that well every game, it just stuck out to me this week.

Should we be concerned? I think not. That was a fluke result. CFC will turn it around. Brett will find his shooting boots. Several great individual performances, and a fantastic crowd. The atmosphere was great the whole game thanks in large part to the passion of the Chattahooligans, the best supporters around. Y’all are awesome!