Showing posts with label Sub Watch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sub Watch. Show all posts

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sub Watch: Game 5

Unfortunately, this Graphic Describes neither the Red Bulls nor My Contest Idea

First off, an update on the SUB WATCH predictor contest. While I knew it would be incredibly popular, I had no idea that it would garner TWO entries! Okay, so my eyes may have been bigger than my stomach on this one but, all the same, shame you. Shame on all of you. This is why we can’t have nice things. I refuse to prolong this farce so will pre-empt things by awarding a participation beverage to both entrants,  Matt Kremkau and James Justice. Thanks, guys and congratulations! Winning always feels great, right? DM me on Twitter to claim your prizes.

Two-Week Recap
Moving on. Two games have taken place since the last SUB WATCH, from which the Red Bulls garnered a single point in the home draw with DC. While there hasn’t been any scoring from New York, there has been plenty of sub action, and those who followed the SUB WATCH advice have raked in some cash.

As a reminder, SUB WATCH told you to Hold Jonny Steele, Buy Moreno and Lade, and take the Under at 80’. Lo and behold, against DC, Young Connor Lade entered the game in the 89th minute, replacing Eric Alexander, and Moreno came in at 92’ for Monsieur Henry. They were preceded by Juninho at 68’ for Steele. That’s 3 for 4, kids. If you did not come away a winner, you have only yourself to blame.

Much like the Red Bulls, the results were not as strong from the Montreal match. Once again, YCL was subbed in, replacing Steele at 69’. Josue Martinez and Lloyd Same saw action at 79’ and 83’ respectively.

More for the punters below, but let’s take a closer look at what’s happening in terms of sub production for each game.

Eric Alexander had a standout game in the midfield, stat-wise, completing 28 of 33 passes (85%), including 2 “key passes.” He also had two shots, though off target. YCL was going to be hard-pressed to perform similarly, especially coming on so late in the game. He really had no statistically significant production, going 0 for 3 on dribbles and 0 for 1 on passing. The only category where Lade came close to matching Alexander was in “tackle and possession lost,” where he racked up 5 compared to Alexander’s 7 in a fraction of the minutes.

The competition between Jonny Steele and Juninho was MUCH fiercer. Steele had a very active day, completing 27 of 37 passes (72%), 2 of 5 successful crosses, 2 key passes and 2 shots (off target.) Juninho was up to the task, completing 18 of 21 passes (86%!) with 1 key pass and 1 successful cross. The Brazilian did pick up a yellow card as well. However, he was better in keeping possession, only losing the ball on 6 tackles (1 loss per 6 minutes) compared to Steele’s 14 (1 per 4.9 mn).

As for Moreno replacing Henry, I’ll let the heat maps tell the tale:


In the great white north, Steele again had a very active game, going 22 of 32 on passes, but had possession troubles again, losing the ball 13 times in 69 minutes of action—nearly identical to the DC game. He also picked up a yellow. YCL was much better this game, going 9 for 12 on passes (75%) and only losing the ball 3 times on tackles.

In his debut appearance, Peguy impressed with an efficient if not flashy game. This was born out by the stats, where he went 21 of 24 on passes, an 87.5% success rate, beating Juninho’s DC performance. He also had 4 shots (2 on goal).  There’s no way Martinez was going to have that sort of game, but he did well in about 16 minutes of playing time, completing 3 of 4 passes.

Finally, Red Bulls fans saw the return of Lloyd Sam to the pitch, when he subbed in for a busy Eric Alexander. While RBNY didn’t come close to dominating Montreal they way they did DC, you can’t blame Alexander’s work rate: 44 of 54 passes completed, including 1 “through ball;” 3 of 5 successful dribbles and 2 shots, both off target.  Alexander was frequently dispossessed, losing the ball 13 times and picking up a yellow. Sam completed 2 of 3 passes and lost possession once.

For The Punters
So what do the above stats tell us for future money making opportunities? While I must remind you that SUB WATCH is for informational purposes only, and all wagering is at your own risk, I do think there is some good data here.

Juninho clearly had the best performance of all 6 subs, but he should return to the starting lineup soon. That means Jonny Steele and Eric Alexander are the two bench candidates. Between the two, I think Steele is likely to ride the pines, as Petke feels more comfortable with him in a central role, and as a tougher presence late in the game. His work rate, like Alexanders, has been impressive, so his value has increased. STEELE: BUY

What was more noticeable to me was the return of Young Connor Lade. Whether he had a foot in Petke’s doghouse or not, 2 successive appearances after zero in the first two games shows the tide has turned. In fact, he has rocketed to the top of the Sub Minutes Played chart with 31! We may also see him called into defensive action after Barklage’s red card. You can still pick up Lade on the cheap, but not for much longer. LADE: BUY

What of Lloyd Sam? A player who was obviously in the doghouse? I wouldn’t be laying a ton of cash on the Englishman, but was surprised to see him get some time, even with the Red Bulls shorthanded. I say SAM: HOLD

That’s all well and good, but there is better opportunity with Petke. In each of the last two games, he has set new marks for latest first sub, 68’ vs. DC and 69’ vs Montreal.  Could we see 70’ against Philthy? SUB WATCH thinks so. FIRST SUB: OVER 69’

Petke also reversed a trend, with an early last sub at 83’, but the red card may have influenced that. Otherwise, Petke’s final sub has come at minute 92 or higher! Will fans soon be pining for Hans Backe?

Well, that’s all the sub news that’s fit to print. I’ll see you at the Cathedral of Football, Red Bull Arena (Built by Makita) to watch the mighty Red Bulls defeat Philthadelphia. SUB WATCH, out!


Thursday, March 14, 2013


Random RBNY Player for no Particular Reason

Two games. One Point. Six Subs. From the SUB WATCH perspective, that’s the season in a nutshell. Hmm… Almost feels like I’m forgetting some interesting developments… Oh well, onward we go with a look at what transpired with the San Jose subs, what that implies for the home opener, and a SUB WATCH contest! Please don’t think this contest violates my long-standing guidance: SUB WATCH is for informational purposes only. Wager at your own risk!

You knew that subs were going to be important for New York’s second trip out to the West Coast in as many weeks. This was only compounded by an injury to Juninho and the somewhat puzzling decision to play chicken with a huge winter storm after the previous week’s travel woes. Even worse? A 10:00 pm ET start on the first day of Daylight Savings Time! It’s almost as if someone in the league office has a vendetta against the Red Bulls! *cough* Garber *cough* NY2 *cough*

Ahem. Anyhooo… Red Bull fans saw a lineup wrinkle right off the bat with Game 1 subs Jonny Steele and Eric Alexander inserted into the starting XI. Steele had Juninho’s big shoes to fill while Alexander ran the right flank.

Alexander proved Petke’s hunch was right when Henry put a ball into the box that he crushed into the back of the net on a beautiful volley. Hey! That’s 1 goal from a sub in just 2 games!

The Opta Chalkboard tells us that In Game 1, Juninho was successful on 34 of 48 (70%) passes and successful on 1 of 2 dribbles. SUB WATCH expected that Steele would be less active than the Brazilian, and that proved out, going 24 for 30 on passes with zero successful dribbles. The lesson here? As always, the value of stats in soccer is dubious.

If anything, Petke’s subs only obscured the race for SMP leader as he reversed the previous week’s moves, bringing Bover on for Steele at 69' and Kimura on for Alexander at 87'. Neither was very productive. As RBNY found their backs against the wall, Bover made only 2 passes and, while he came in late, Kimura’s stat sheet is straight zeros for every meaningful category.

Let’s see... I remember Moreno coming in at the end. Let me check who he subbed out. Oh, yeah! Our good friend, Roy Miller. With the departure of Victor Palsson last year, Miller is returning to form with a strong early bid for He Who Must Not Be Named status. After an epic debacle that has been thoroughly recounted elsewhere, Petke closed the barn door after the cows were in the field by sending Moreno onto the pitch at 92'.


  • Average subs per game: 3
  • Average substitution time: 80
  • Season Low Sub: 66’ Game 1
  • Season High First Sub: 69’ Game 2
  • Season High Last Sub: 93’ Game 1
  • SMP Leader: Jonny Steele, 26 (updated to reflect Game 1 added time)

And now, some thoughts on betting opportunities as we head into the home opener.

Not a lot of data to go on after two games, but you have to think that Jonny Steel and Amando (Don’t Call Him Armando) Moreno would seem to have the biggest upside. For Steele, a lot depends on Juninho’s calf. Moreno, on the other hand, seems like a no brainer as you can get him on the cheap. STEELE: HOLD,  MORENO: BUY

The question loyal SUB WATCH readers must be asking is “Where the heck is Young Connor Lade???” Two games without a single minute played is inconceivable to all who watched him last year. I doubt Lade is in Petke’s doghouse, but perhaps he was a better fit in Backe’s system. Regardless, SUB WATCH says it is only a matter of time before YCL returns to the pitch. LADE: BUY

Finally, the over/under jumped from 77.33' to 80'. In comparison, after 2 games last year, Backe had used one fewer sub but the over/under sat at just 69.5'. Again, a tough call this early but SUB WATCH sees Petke taking a more cautious approach to subs than the fans may have expected. That said, 80’ is fairly high, so we’re taking the UNDER.

I thought I’d see what SUB WATCH readers think about who will emerge as the RBNY super sub this year. But a poll is bit boring. Instead, I've devised the greatest Red Bulls substitution-based contest ever! Here’s the 5 categories:
  1. Sub Minutes Played leader at halfway point of the season. Player and minutes. That’s MLS league games only for the 1st 17 games, ending with and including away at Philly on June 23. (e.g. Kimura, 98)
  2. SMP full season leader
  3. Most productive sub at halfway point. 2 points for goals, one for assists. (e.g. Alexander, 2 pts)
  4. Most productive sub full season
  5. Most subbed player full season. Total times subbed out—not fewest minutes. (e.g. Roy Miller, 17)

Sub minutes include added extra time, as reported by the league

Here’s the deal: Reply in the comments to this SUB WATCH column BEFORE Saturday, March 23, with responses to ALL FIVE categories  One submission per reader. There will be one winner in each category. Each winner will receive, paid for by SUB WATCH, 1 large beverage of their choice at Red Bull Arena, at a time of SUB WATCH's choosing.

So put on your thinking caps and get to predictin’ already! SUB WATCH will see you Saturday at Red Bull Arena!


Friday, March 8, 2013

SUB WATCH: The Return/Game 1, 2013

Feelings of Arousal Are Normal when Viewing Sub Watch.
Call Your Doctor if Symptoms Last More than 4 Hours
There were rumors. Rumors of skirmishes. Of battles. Of catastrophe off Newfoundland or, perhaps, somewhere in the Indian Ocean. But now, a sleek, dark vessel rises from the black waters of of the Passaic River. Let the cries ring out: SUB WATCH HAS RETURNED!!!!

Hello, loyal readers! SUB WATCH once again graces the pages of The Viper’s Nest after a looooong and loony off-season. Truth be told, we submerged a little early in 2012 and then went on a bender after the heartbreaking loss to DC. Woke up in the Finger Lakes somehow. But that’s neither here nor there, because we are back and better than ever! A new coach, new players, no Rafa! The possibilities are endless.

What’s in store for your regular examination of RBNY substitutions? Well, your captain has some new wrinkles planned. We’ll continue to lead with our patented blend of the ridiculous and sublime, with in-depth sub data for the punters (Say it with me: SUB WATCH is for informational purposes only. Wager at your own risk!).

Alongside this quantitative analysis, you can expect a bit more qualitative analysis on top of the sub production stats that started last season. We'll tackle the big question of how Petke’s sub tactics compare to his predecessor’s, and give opinions on individual moves and what they say about overall game strategy.

We’ll also have a topline view of subs across the league. Don’t expect much depth here; this is a one-man sub!

We might even try to generate some reader interaction---with cash prizes!

As captain, I reserve the right to totally disregard all of the above statements.
With that out of the way, let’s turn our attention to Game 1 of the 2013 season.


After many travel woes the Red Bulls took on the Timbers in Portland and SUB WATCH was on the scene (following a quick trip up the Columbia River to visit Double Mountain).

Shocking the RBNY faithful who made the trip, the Red Bulls jumped out to a 3-1 halftime lead. But energy flagged in the second half. A perfect time for Head Coach Petke to put his stamp on the team with some tactical subs, right? Well...

Petke’s first move was to replace the Man of 1,000 Names, Bover, with former RSL boy Jonny Steele (note: NOT a porn star. I’m pretty sure, anyway) on 66’. Having not seen either play, its hard to make any strong judgments here, but it was a bit surprising to see young legs taken out with RBNY’s senior citizens seemingly lacking oxygen.

If Petke’s first sub was a boring one, the second certainly raised some eyebrows. In the 73rd minute, Brandon Barklage came on for new fan and teammate favorite Espindola, who had scored a brace in the first 45’. This move seemed to signal a conscious shift to a defensive mode for the rest of the game, after Portland had scored again in the 56th minute. SUB WATCH was disappointed as the aggressive approach had enabled not only the team, but the player being replaced, to capitalize on Timbers errors. Yes, the tide had seemed to turn with Portland dominating possession, but one wonders whether this was less than inspiring for the team. And what does it say about BB, who shone at right back last year? Does Petke consider him a flexible M/D like DJ Solli? Time will tell.

The third sub--are you happy, fans? All three subs!--was Eric Alexander, who SUB WATCH had no knowledge of being on the squad. You may recognize him from his official photo on

Was this some sort of salute to the Timbers army, as Alexander replaced fellow former Timber Kosuke Kimura? One hopes not, but I’m guessing most SUB WATCH readers were of like mind in expecting an appearance from Young Connor Lade. Does this indicate a sophomore slump, or was he just standing behind a cone so Petke couldn’t see him? Either way, this bears watching.

For the Punters

  • Subs per game: 3
  • Average substitution time: 73.333
  • Season Low Sub: 66’ Game 1
  • Season High Sub: 93’ Game 1
  • SMP Leader (that’s sub minutes played, kids): Jonny Steele, 24

There’s not much more to be said after just one game, but SUB WATCH does have a lot of questions: When will Young Connor Lade crack the sub ranks? Can Jonny Steele (again, NOT a porn star...but probably best you don't Google him) continue to be first choice off the bench in hopes of eclipsing last year’s SMP leader, the dear, departed KFC? How soon until the RBNY fans take issue with Head Coach Petke’s subs? And, most of all, will they TRADE ROY MILLER ALREADY???

Whew. Got a little emotional there, but it’s great to be back. Join us next time for much, much more with the first name in semi-responsible, subjective, and probably inaccurate coverage of New York Red Bulls substitutions: SUB WATCH!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

SUB WATCH: Game 31

Given Recent Events, This Could End Up as the  de facto  SUB WATCH  Image
A busy schedule for both the Red Bulls and SUB WATCH means that you, lucky readers, are treated to another marathon, 3-game recap. Stat-wise, the biggest impact the last three matches have has is that poor performances--yes, I’m counting the Crew game--have led to early subs and use of all three players available. As a result, heading into the TFC match on Saturday, the over/under has dropped to 70.44” and subs per game has hit 2.27--the highest since Phily in the eleventh match of the season! Punters who took SUB WATCH’s analysis to heart before the Crew match and bet UNDER 70” for the first sub hit the jackpot in all three games with first subs at 60”, 45” and 35”.

After getting the stats you love, we’ll take a critical look at just what the hell Hans may be thinking with his increasingly puzzling substitution strategy--and the results that it has been generating. Without further to do:

In a game whose lopsided score give a skewed view of the performance, production from the trio of Tainio-Lindpere-LeToux was as follows:

  • Fouls: 2 (LeToux)
  • Tackles won: 0
  • Tackled & possession lost: 12
  • Successful pass: 70% (24/34)
  • Successful dribble: 0% (0/1)
  • Successful cross: 0% (0/4)
  • Key pass: 1 (LeToux)
Tainio was the standout sub with 13 of the 24 successful passes. Let it be noted that even this performance could not outshine the man he replaced, as Rafa had 46(!) successful passes and only 9 bad ones.

Sporks--The Rematch
After a pathetic tie in KC, the Red Bulls managed to turn in an even worse performance at home in front of a crowd of upwards of 17 fans. But we’re here to talk subs. KFC made an early switch with Dax (!?!) at the half, followed by Sam at 60” and LeToux at 74”. Note this is the same set that appeared in the DC match.

  • Fouls: 2
  • Tackles won: 0
  • Tackled & possession lost: 13
  • Successful pass: 73% (32/44)
  • Successful dribble: 75% (3/4)
  • Successful cross: 50% (4/8)
  • Shot on target: 28% (2/7)
Here we see a mixed bag. Again, good success on passing that may not have been evident to those witnessing this debacle. The 13 losses of possession are more in keeping with the tone of the game, and reinforce the point that RBNY has trouble hanging on to the ball. Surprisingly, the subs had 3 successful dribbles.

New England
The curse continued with a last second “air balloon” into the box that found the back of the Red Bull goal, after an equally unlikely Red Bull goal that would have delivered the least deserved win in the history of modern sport. But, again, I digress! Here are your sub stats for Lindpere-Barklage-Sam:

  • GOAL: Lindpere
  • Fouls: 1
  • Tackles won: 0
  • Tackled & possession lost: 16 (Lindpere-13)
  • Successful pass: 82% (10/24)
  • Successful dribble: 0% (0/0)
  • Successful cross: 25% (1/4)
While Lindpere technically scored a (pathetic) goal, losing possession 13 times is a killer. Not what you need from a player off the bench who is supposed to right the ship and inject some energy. No wonder the team can’t generate any momentum.

WTF, Hans?
Let’s move on from the stats to look at Backe’s sub strategy over the past 3 games. Ok. Now my head hurts. Some observations:
  • Lindpere goes sub-starter-sub. Coop goes start-sub-no minutes. Is this based on opposition style, practice that week or a whim? Odd behavior for a coach who was so adamant about using the same starting XI.
  • LeToux in for Cooper in the Columbus match. Does this really change the game? Regardless of their physical similarity, there’s a reason we call them “LeCoop.” Did the Crew have to make any adjustment because of this? Granted, Coop did miss a huge sitter.
  • If you can somehow make peace with putting Dax on the right after almost every fan, pundit and journalist has conceded that his play in the middle has led to a possible team MVP, how do you take out Dax at the half? Backe reportedly said that “any of the midfielders could have come out.” So you take out the youngest, fastest player who is having a great season?
It would be one thing if these confusing decisions had result in max points or stellar performances. Instead, we've seen a chaotic team that has not been helped by its subs (As noted above, I take the Lindpere goal v New England with a HUGE grain of salt.).

However, all this chaos should make for an entertaining night on Saturday versus TFC. One welcome bit of news is that Brandon Barklage has, apparently, regained his rightful spot on the left. With Connor Lade out on a red and Rafa injured (shock), this could also mean a rare Keel appearance. Backe doesn't sub defenders often, but if he does, Keel would seem to be first up. KEEL: BUY

UPDATE: Kenny Cooper has surpassed HWSNBN with 220 sub minutes played this season. Who would'a thunk it after his blistering start? Predictions on Kenny's final smp?

This is SUB WATCH, signing off!


Thursday, September 13, 2012

SUB WATCH: Game 28

Don't Worry, SUB WATCH Has Been Keeping a Close Eye on Things
As you see from this week's title, SUB WATCH has stopped trying to calculate the week of the MLS season for which we technically qualify at this date. The important thing is that the rare Saturday evening match against the Crew marks the 28th game of the 2012 campaign. But before we get to the intriguing sub picture for that game, let's take a look at the previous two fixtures.

Despite one of the absolute worst performances in recent memory--at least since the Houston away game--the Red Bulls managed to escape KC with a point thanks to a Kai Kamara own goal. The team was flat throughout the match and the two subs Backe selected weren't much help. Lindpere came on in the 70th minute for Kenny Cooper and Miller as a midefielder for DJ Solli in the 89th. Their impact was as follows:
  • Fouls: 0
  • Tackles won: 0
  • Tackled & possession lost: 0
  • Successful pass: 33% (1/3)
  • Successful dribble: 0% (0/0)
  • Successful flick on: 0% (0/1)
  • Successful cross: 0% (0/1)
Those stats tell a pretty accurate picture of the match overall. One interesting note is that this was the third game in a row that He Who Shall Not Be Named did not appear. Hmmm...

DC United
In the (not so) eagerly anticipated conclusion to the Atlantic Cup (official motto: Yes, It's Still a Thing) Backe went with the full complement of three subs to up his season per game average to 2.19, the highest it has been since game 17 versus Toronto. The Red Bulls managed another tie thanks to some last minute heroics from the left foot of Willman Conde. Subs LeToux (75) Cooper (83) and the newly acquired Lloyd Sam (83) played a more prominent role than the KC subs did, but there's not a lot of statistical data to show for it:
  • Fouls: 1
  • Tackles won: 0
  • Tackled & possession lost: 8
  • Successful pass: 58% (11/19)
  • Successful dribble: 100% (1/1)
  • Successful flick on: 0% (0/2)
  • Successful cross: 0% (0/0)
  • Interception: 1
  • Clearance: 1
More importantly, there was great rejoicing in Red Bull land when, prior to the game, it was revealed that the curse has been lifted! HWSNBN was loaned to Eredivise squad NEC, where he will surely dislocate one of Jozy Altidore's ankles.

Looking Ahead
What can SUB WATCH punters learn from these two matches as the Red Bulls face off with the resurgent Crew led by Frederico Higuain? Here's three tips. As you read them, please remember that SUB WATCH is for informational purposes only! Wager at your own risk!

  1. Wherefore Art Thou, Kenny?
    Backe can't seem to make up his mind which side of the Sub equation KFC belongs on. Over the past 5 games, Cooper's name has appeared in the SUB WATCH ledge 5 times--coming onto the pitch three times and coming off twice. Too much volatility for comfort here, so I am staying away. COOPER: SELL
  2. Fantastic Four
    According to Brian Lewis at the New York Post, Backe has settled on a back four of Conde-Pearce-Holgersson-Lade. Not sure exactly how Brandon Barklage lost his job at right back, but he seems the likely candidate to come off the bench first to play on the right and Miller on the left. Conde's fitness is always a question and Lade is a utility player Backe likes to move around. BARKLAGE and MILLER: BUY
    ---LATE BREAKING NEWS--Apparently, Roy Miller picked up a groin injury with the Ticos. Recommendation changes to HOLD. He'll be back, so don't sell.
  3. Muddle in the Middle
    With Miller, Solli, and Lade all potential midfielders, in addition to converted forward LeToux, Backe has approximately 346 options--and that's not even counting Rafa in his stopper/distributor role. No clear path here, so whomever you have now, HOLD.
  4. Early Bird Gets the Worm
    The over/under on first sub time stands at 71.8" This marks the first time it has been higher than 71" since Montreal, and the sixth time this season. In addition, 16 of the 27 games (59%) have featured a sub before 70"! Smart money is on the UNDER.
May the odds be ever in your favor! SUB WATCH, out!


Saturday, August 25, 2012

SUB WATCH: Week 24

I'm Sorry, You Were Saying Something About My Substitution Strategy?
Last Saturday saw the lowly Portland Timbers visit Red Bull Arena for a match that was highly anticipated by many Red Bull fans who had to endure a horrible performance at Houston and a not-entirely-convincing win at home against the same team in previous weeks. With a bench full of healthy options, SUB WATCH was especially curious to see if Hans Backe would leverage this strength--especially if, as anticipated, the Red Bulls would dominate the struggling Cascadia side.

That scenario was quickly dashed as the boys in red and white gave up two early, soft goals to the Timbers, due to weak play from Roy Miller and inexplicable decisions by his teammates to not cover the only man in the box on the first goal and to not aggressively tackle on the second. So how would Backe react, with his notorious (and somewhat undeserved) reputation for sticking with starters no matter what?

In a move that delighted supporters on several levels, Backe pulled the trigger early, bringing on Cooper for the woeful Miller in the 36th minute. That decision not only played almost immediate dividends, with Cooper putting away a beautiful header at 43’, it also brought Coopers smp* to 168. This still has him 41 smp behind HWSNBN, but we live in hope.

More important for SUB WATCH is the fact that this marks the earliest tactical sub made by Backe all season, and is second only to a sub made due to Henry’s injury against New England. Congratulations to all who put money on 36’ at the beginning of the season! If you parlayed that with Cooper, I have to think you’re reading SUB WATCH from your new, private island!

Cooper apparently provided the spark that the Red Bulls needed because Backe only brought on one other sub, the surprisingly in-favor Teemu Tainio, in the 73rd minute for Joel Lindpere. Let’s take a look at the duo’s contribution:

Sub Production

  • GOAL: Cooper
  • Fouls: 0
  • Tackles won: 0
  • Tackled & possession lost: 12 (Cooper-8))
  • Successful pass: 75% (27/36)
  • Successful dribble: 50% (1/1)
  • Successful flick on: 0% (0/1)
  • Successful cross: 50% (1/2)

Most impressive is the 75% successful pass ratio they combined for. Less inspiring is the fact that Cooper contributed ⅔ of the 12 instances of lost possession on tackles.

But, hey! Credit where due to Hans Backe. Two consecutive weeks with goals from substitutions, reminding us all that it’s quality, not quantity in the sub game!

We’ll see you next week here on SUB WATCH!

*subs per minute


Monday, August 13, 2012

SUB WATCH: The Wayback Machine

Thanks to Mr. Peabody and Sherman for the Assist this Week

Can you believe that it has been nearly an entire month since SUB WATCH graced the pages of The Viper’s Nest?  Oppressive summer heat, weekday games, a cross-country business venture and a top secret diversion into the depths of the Marianas Trench are all to blame for this long absence. But fear not, loyal readers, SUB WATCH has surfaced once again, and the wise perspective that only comes with time makes for a thrilling recap column with new, bonus content on sub production! Forgive me?

July 18--Chicago
In what will forever be remembered as Chris Heck’s Waterloo, The Red Bulls welcomed the Fire to Red Bull Arena for a 1:00pm start under an oppressive sun on one of the hottest, muggiest days of the year in what proved to be the hottest month on record in the U.S. After a game just 3 days prior that saw not a single tactical sub, Backe saw fit to use the full complement, with Connor Lade, Kenny Cooper and Stephen Keel all seeing sub action. It was especially gratifying to see He Who Shall Not Be Named coming OFF the pitch for a change.

Sub Production:

  • Shot on goal: Lade
  • Foul: Cooper
  • Tackles won: 2
  • Tackled & possession lost: 9
  • Successful pass: 86% (18/21)
  • Successful dribble: 0% (0/2)
  • Successful cross 0% (0/0)

July 21--Philthy
The Red Bulls sought to extend their dominance of the Union after an implausible victory in Chester earlier in the year that included a moment of glory for Markus Holgersson. It was great to see the resurgence of Kenny Cooper with 2 goals, but that was balanced by the loss of Brandon Barklage. But all was not lost as Barklage’s injury led to the first appearance this year for Jonathan Borrajo, who acquitted himself admirably at right back. The great Mehdi Ballouchy came on near the end in what was surely one of many, many future sub appearances for the team.

Sub Production:

  • Shot: Mehdi
  • Foul: Borrajo
  • Tackles won: 3
  • Tackled & possession lost: 10
  • Successful pass: 79% (26/33)
  • Successful dribble: 0% (0/0)
  • Successful cross: 33% (1/3)

July 28--L’Impact
Somehow, in a game where the Red Bulls’ anemic attack was outdone only by its inept defense, Backe only felt a single sub would be helpful, so HWSNBN came on in the 79th minute for a still-struggling Joel Lindpere, and promptly committed a foul. While SUB WATCH has gone on record to show that Backe’s reputation for not using subs has been overblown by the fans, this game was crying out for an infusion of energy--especially in the last 20’ before Nyassi sealed the win. Alas, it was not to be. Surely, SuperSub Mehdi Ballouchy would have made it into the game, if not for his annoying visa issue.

Sub Production:
  • Shot: 0
  • Fouls: 1
  • Tackles won: 0
  • Tackled & possession lost: 10
  • Successful pass: 87.5% (7/8)
  • Successful dribble: 0% (0/0)

August 3--Dynamo
If the Montreal Impact game was a let down, the trip to Houston was a true debacle. The Red Bulls showed almost no life and even less heart. Sure, the heat and humidity were awful, but I’m pretty sure that Houston was playing under the same conditions, and they seemed to manage just fine. If ever there was a game that called for the frantic energy of the African Assassin, this was it. Unfortunately, Mehdi had been traded away to San Jose on July 30. Without Ballouchy, Backe turned to his next best option when Tainio came off at half, who was... umm... let me see here... oh. HWSNBN. Cooper came on at 55’ and Lindpere--in one of his best performances in recent memory--saw action for the last 20 minutes.

Sub Production:
  • Shot on goal: KFC
  • Foul: HWSNBN
  • Tackles won: 3
  • Tackled & possession lost: 16 (HWSNBN-7)
  • Successful pass: 67% (29/43)
  • Successful dribble: 0% (0/1)
  • Successful flick on: 50% (1/2)

August 10--Dynamo II: Electric Boogaloo
After two sub-par performances, the Red Bulls really needed a home victory against the squad that had completely dominated them the week prior. Solli and Tainio both came on around the 80th minute while Rafa “Next Level” Marquez made a rare appearance in the 86th. Not only did the Red Bulls pull out a victory despite long stretches of kicky-ball and uncreative play, DJ Solli stuck in the dagger at 91’ after Henry broke through the defense on a pass from Connor Lade Tim Cahill, and put the ball at Solli’s feet in front of an empty net.

Sub Production
  • GOAL: Solli
  • Fouls: Tainio
  • Tackles won: 0
  • Tackled & possession lost: 11 (Solli-8)
  • Successful pass: 59%
  • Successful dribble: 33% (1/3)
  • Successful flick on: 50% (2/2)

Super Sub Update
HWSNBN continues extended his smp to a staggering 209 with ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to show for it, unless you’re a huge fan of stupid fouls. What’s the opposite of an impact player? Now we know. With the departure of The Moroccan Master, Kenny REDACTED Cooper vaults into second place thanks to the smp he put up early in the season. However, with the addition’s of Cahill and LeToux, he may start racking up more minutes as a sub than as a starter.

I know you’re all waiting with bated breath for a hot tip on how you can make some easy cash. While, as you know, SUB WATCH is for informational purposes only and all wagering is done at your own risk, it looks like Joel Lindpere may be transitioning to more of a sub role. With all the roster shuffles, it’s tough to say if Backe has any idea who his starting XI is, so there’s definitely some risk here--but it might just pay off. LINDPERE: BUY

Until next time, SUB WATCH is signing off.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

SUB WATCH: Week 17 (Game 1)

"Backe Says He'll Sub You Out in a Few Minutes"
Pop quiz, soccer fans: Under what circumstances would you say it is CRITICAL to use three subs:

  1. You've won just 1 game in the last 6
  2. You're playing 3 games in 6 days
  3. There's a heat wave with humidity approaching 90%
  4. Three players are coming back from injury and have seen limited action
  5. Every fan can see that, in the last 10-15 minutes, the team has no energy
If you're almost every Red Bulls fan in existence, your answer was "All of the Above." If you're Hans Backe, you think this is a trick question.

For the Sunday afternoon tilt versus the dangerous Sounders squad, Backe somehow saw fit to ZERO tactical subs despite all of the above conditions being in play. Not even He Who Shall Not Be Named saw the pitch to add to his team-leading 153 minutes played as a sub. No, only Wilman Conde saw action after--once again--Rafa came off the pitch injured and headed into the locker room in the 21st minute. He probably wanted to make sure he beat the traffic home.

One thing I hope SUB WATCH has done this year is to dispel some of the myths about Backe's sub strategy--i.e. he never uses subs or only subs late in the game after it doesn't matter. I was pleasantly surprised to find that these common perceptions aren't really accurate. Moreover, Backe has actually increased his sub activity this year... making Sunday's lack of action even more puzzling.

It's not like Hans was unaware of the conditions, stating "it's brutal out there," in post-game discussions. So what is the rationale for leaving your players--including recently injured Henry and Holgersson--on the pitch to suffer? Why not maximize the opportunity to take three points at home? How do you not bring Mehdi Ballouchy in for a dead-legged Dax McCarty or Lindpere or Lade? And if you're not going to go after the three points, what is Jhonny Arteaga on the roster for if not to provide relief in this type of situation?

It's definitely a head scratcher and I sincerely hope we don't see the ill effects of this decision on Wednesday. Hopefully, we'll see some smarter decision making during the next two games this week. If not, the intense heat Backe is feeling will be coming from his players--and rightfully so.

FUN FACT: Subs per game drops to 2.105, lowest since Week 11


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sub Watch: Week 16 Part II

SUB WATCH Doubles your Fun this Holiday Week
Welcome back! Hope you enjoyed the fireworks. When SUB WATCH signed off on Tuesday, we were looking at total substitution minutes played (smp) by different Red Bulls—particular the current leader, one Victor Palsson.

Surely, Palsson must be a hugely productive player to get so many minutes, right? Let’s look at what the numbers say. Before we get into this, I acknowledge that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Then there’s soccer statistics--a nascent art at best. However, the purpose of this exercise is to gather some objective data to see whether it syncs with my subjective judgment of Palsson’s performance.

Here, according to MLS, is Palsson’s primary stat line for all 145 smp:
  • Fouls Committed: 5
  • Fouls Sustained: 1
  • Shots: 1
That’s it. If I was his agent, I don’t think I’d come to the bargaining table with this in February.

To be fair, that didn’t tell us much, so let’s look at more detailed stats on his production in the last 3 games, as I can do that without much effort. Note that “Interception” refers to interceptions made by the player (i.e. a good thing). Highlighting for clarity only.

I can see why he’s on the bench, but not why he’s the first man off of it. Maybe a head-to-head comparison of the stats of the players he replaced would provide some insight. Note: stats shown are those the two players had in common, according to the MLS OPTA Chalkboard.


SUB WATCH Takeaway: Palsson losing the ball on tackles at more than twice the rate of Lindpere, and running about 1.8x foul rate.


SUB WATCH Takeaway: 1.5x lost possession rate of Miller. Note: Palsson took midfield role while Miller was on D.


SUB WATCH Takeaway: Perhaps Palsson’s standout performance of the year—still without any production. Lindpere also had an assist and one shot on target.

Is this comparison unfair? Perhaps. But once the numbers have been dissected, the conclusion cannot be disputed: I hate Victor Palsson!

See you next week.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sub Watch: Week 16 Part I

Rejoice! An Early SUB WATCH! Also, Independence Day.
What's this? Has hell frozen over? Is it a sign of the apocalypse? Does wishing on a falling star truly work? Whatever the cause, there is great rejoicing in RBNY land as Part I of an early, Independence Day edition of SUB WATCH hits the interwebs before we portage to the Neponset Reservoir for the battle vs. the Revs. Remember, SUB WATCH is for informational purposes only. Wager at your own risk.

It should have been no surprise to any SUB WATCH reader that, following last week’s Victor Palsson rant, the Nordic Nincompoop was the first man off the bench in the 79th minute vs.Toronto. While the lackluster draw can’t be blamed on him, Palsson certainly didn’t do anything to change opinions of his ineffectiveness.

Palsson was followed by Keel and Miller, both of whom were pressed into service due to 2012 Brian Nielsen award candidate Wilman Conde’s lingering fitness issues, and Heath “Shin Kicker” Pearce picking up a knock late in the game. The TFC game was notable on the sub side for two reasons:
  1. It brought that average substitution time up to 71.5’—the first time this number has gone over 71 since the very first game of the season v Dallas. There’s money to be made here for you punters on Sunday.
  2. Using all three subs raised Backe’s subs-per-game average to a very respectable 2.23—well ahead of last season’s sub-2.0 mark. Impress the ladies by spouting off this stat the next time you hear someone complain that Hansy never makes subs.
What’s on tap for the Revs game? Hard to say who will be available and what team will be fielded at this point. The good news is that Ballouchy will once again be active, which could push Lade into the back if Pearce hasn’t recovered, or if Conde’s general ailments flare up. Also in the mix as subs are Keel, Miller and Ruthven. For a healthy return on a wager, lay down some cash on KEEL, but risk takers should go for the long odds on RUTHVEN.

Time Is on His Side
Back to Palsson. As much as truthiness © Stephen Colbert has come to dominate our culture, is it right to judge Palsson—or any other sub—without a closer examination of the facts? Of course it is, but let’s try it anyway and do some numerology to get a better sense of the Red Bulls sub-o-verse (sorry) at the halfway point of the season. Remember, SUB WATCH makes no guarantees for accuracy here. It’s a free blog, and I have a day job and 14 kids… as far as you know.

First, let’s look at total regulation (i.e. not added extra time) minutes played as a sub.

As you can see, with 145 sub minutes played (smp) Palsson dwarfs the competition, with Mehdi “The Desert Destructor” Balouchy the closest contender at 119 smp. Sure, much of the discrepancy is due to significant shifts in the Red Bulls’ starting XI, but the sheer volume of minutes Palsson is getting is pretty surprising for a guy whose impact is questionable, at best. More on that later.

What are we to make of dear, departed Juan Agudelo on third place with 89 smp. Seems impossible with all of the time away with national squads, injury and getting traded, but the numbers don’t lie. Following Agudelo we have Lindpere, who has shuttled back and forth between starting and the bench, and Kenneth F. Cooper, Esq., who picked up a ton of smp early in the season, then cracked the starters and hasn’t looked back.

That’s all for Part I of this week’s SUB WATCH. Come back Thursday for Part II where we look at Palsson's on the field production. Until then, DOWN THE BRITS!!


Saturday, June 30, 2012

SUB WATCH: Week 15

Why Is This Man Smiling? Fans Sure the Hell Aren't

Somehow the Red Bulls managed to slip in three regular season games since the last SUB WATCH. If that wasn't disorienting enough, my wallet is fully of weird looking colored bills and there's something called a "loony" in my pocket. Now, I remember, SUB WATCH is north of the border for a clash with the lowly TFC! Luckily, the secret tunnel bend Niagara falls made it a quick trip.

But first, let's take a look at what happened, sub-wise over the last three games. As always, SUB WATCH is for informational purposes only. Wager at your own risk!

A hapless 3-1 defeat to the Fire was made even worse by yet another appearance by Victor Palsson. Fans remain puzzled as to why Palsson seems to be a go-to man off the bench for Hans Backe, when the only memorable moments he's created are generous giveaways (especially egregious vs. DC), passes to no one and a brutal tackle at Montreal that earned him a second yellow and forced the Red Bulls to play with 10 men.

The other subs in Chicago were Mehdi "Mister X" Ballouchy in for Roy "Mr. WHY?" Miller and Wonder Boy Connor Lade on for fellow former sub sensation Brandon Barklage. Raise your hand if you remember when an unknown Barklage was featured off the bench as a midfielder in early games this season. Now keep it up if you remember Lade was (is?) a defender. Wow! I knew you guys were smart!

The battle against the might Whitecaps started at 11:00pm New York time, so SUB WATCH only caught the pathetic first half, leaving early to make the Panama Canal before rush hour. It turned out to be a good decision because the two subs both came in the 89th minute. You tease, Hans! I'm glad that I knocked off early or I would have been forced to witness the uninspiring Johnny Arteaga and--OH, GOD NO!--yep, you guessed it: Victor Palsson. Seriously, this guy must have bought whatever murder evidence Brian Nielsen was holding for the past 2 years.

After an inexcusable goal given up at the 0:30 mark, the Red Bulls played their most aggressive game of the season and were rewarded with a 3-2 come-from-behind win. On the sub tip, the game marked the glorious return of Fragile Frenchman Theirry Henry, who came in for Joel Lindpere on 69'. Henry had a positive impact on the game but, unfortunately missed a great opportunity solo in front of the keeper. 

Backe used all three subs, raising the subs per game average to a respectable 2.1875. Let's see, who were those other subs… Oh, they were Stephen Keel and VICTOR EFFING PALSSON!!!!  You may remember a prediction from a few columns past when SUB WATCH rated Palsson a BUY due to Backe's predilection for playing the Icelandic Ignoramus . Never has an accurate prediction felt so bad. On the bright side, SUB WATCH may have won several million dollars from a bookmaking establishment operating from an Horchata stand in downtown Quito.

With the ridiculously poor form that Toronto has been in, I'm tempted to predict 0 subs in a Red Bull drubbing. But that kind of statement usually comes just before a classic RBNY collapse (see Chicago). So let's look at the three most likely subs for this evening:

Mehdi is not making the trip due to still-unknown legal issues. That means for offensive creativity, Backe is looking whichever one of the Lade-Solli-Richards trio doesn't start. I'm going with LADE as the spark plug off the bench.

On the defensive end, it seems that, if Wilman "Don't Call Me William" Conde does not start, he should be the first choice off the bench, though an appearance from the nearly forgotten Tyler Ruthven would not be an unwelcome sight. Still, Backe loves hi  some CONDE.
If Backe goes to a third sub, there are many interesting choices: from the speedy Jhonny Arteaga to the rarely seen Borrajo to Ryan Maduro, who Ireally think is---AUUUGHH! Who am I kidding?? It will be VICTOR PALSSON.

Wishing you a Victor-free victory, see you next time on SUB WATCH!