Thursday, March 22, 2012

SUB WATCH: And So, It Begins

Almost as rare at Red Bull Arena as a pre-89' substitution.
Welcome to the first installment of the hottest new regular feature of The Viper’s Nest: SUB WATCH. Every week I’ll be bringing you the latest and greatest news and stats* on Coach Hans Backe’s new found love of substitutions. Will he be able to keep it up? Only time will tell—well, time and SUB WATCH! Please remember that SUB WATCH is for informational purposes only. Any wagering is at your own risk.

As we head into Week 3 of the 2012 season, some compelling data is already emerging. In Week 1, Backe used all three subs by the 86th minute! By comparison, in 2011, three subs weren’t used until Week 5. Add in the 2 subs in Week 2 and Backe is on a 2.5 Subs Per Game pace—More than 0.5 subs ahead of last year’s 1.94 SPG!

The frequency of subs isn’t the only stat that’s skyrocketing in 2012. Backe’s new attitude is clear when you look at the pace of subbing. In Week 1 Backe made a tactical (!) sub at the 63’ minute mark. Take out halftime substitutions (i.e. 46’)—and an obvious injury sub at the 28’ minute of week 13—and the closest sub time in 2011 was at the 65’ minute mark of Week 14! Whoa, Hansy, where’s the fire?

The next milestone we’ll be watching for is 61’, which Backe did not hit until Week 26. It’s early, but if the trends continue, we’ll be looking to surpass this in April. I can only imagine the Rocky theme running through Backe’s head as he confronts this personal challenge.

Through two games, the over/under on first sub is an unheard of 63.6’ or 75.333’ if you take 46’ halftime substitutions out of the equation (both Week 2 subs). Both numbers are ahead of the corresponding 2011 regular season figures of 73.36364’ and 76.1’. You have to believe that Vegas has been taking a bath on RBNY so far.

Looking for a prop bet? While the trends aren’t quite as strong, you can still get decent odds on Season Low Last Sub (non 46’) and Season High Last Sub. Both are set at 86’. Look for Season High Last Sub to be the first of these to fall.

It’s far too early for player-based sub stats to be meaningful, especially as two-time 2012 sub Kenny Cooper will likely find his way into the starting XI in the home opener. However, the smart money is, once again, on Mehdi Ballouchy. The curly-haired,  no-Green Card Visa-having fan un-fave has two subs under his belt and NO indication that he will make a start any time soon, despite the “10” on his jersey.

One last number to keep an eye on is the injury/tactical ratio. We’re sitting at 1-4 or 0.25 for you decimal fans, which, while not high, is not exactly comforting after just two games.

So, that’s it for SUB WATCH this week. Until next time, keep your head in the clouds, and Ballouchy on the bench.

*Statistics and any math may be (and probably are) incorrect despite the author's commitment to at least half-ass this.

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