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Looking Down the Barrel

NERD ALERT: If you don’t like statistics and numbers and math and stuff mixed in with your sports, this post isn’t for you. Sorry for the inconvenience, come back later this week for #topbantz!

As you know, Louisville City’s first half of the season is already over. Our Bourbon Boys are sitting in a comfortable place in terms of the table (third), playoff position (seven points clear), and even have a chance to take over second place from Charleston with two six-point opportunities remaining against the Battery. That said, there are a few ruts that City will need to avoid to make sure they don’t come tumbling back down the table.

A new-to-me USL blog, uop2012usl.wordpress.com (a name that screams “bet you can’t find this blog”), has been keeping track of points, points per game, quality wins*, and home and away records all season. I highly recommend you check it out. In any event, a recent post there takes a look at road records, and Louisville’s isn’t pretty. In road games, Louisville City’s only won once (FC Poutine), lost twice and drawn three times, good for 0.83 points per away match. In case you were wondering, that puts Team Purple at tenth in the conference in road results, well below the conference average of 1.03 points per game. Surprisingly enough, St. Louis averages 1.43 points per away game. It’s their home record that’s garbage.

I point all that out to say that if Louisville City wants to threaten for home field for most of the playoffs, they’ve got to play better on the road. Of their last twelve games on the schedule, eight are away. Unless their road form changes, that is projected to add up to less than seven points. That’s bad.

Looking at the teams Elsie actually plays away, though, there are opportunities to do better. Pittsburgh, our next opponent, is very up and down but plays well at home. City’s form has been good lately, but I can’t pencil in a result there (0 expected points). Next is Wilmington, who is terrible no matter where they play and are winless at home (3 points), and after them Toronto FC II, which isn’t much better (3 points). There’s a break with FC Poutine at Slugger on August 5, then it’s back on the road in Harrisburg. The City Islanders have only lost once at home this season, so that could result in a loss (0 points). Next up is Tulsa, and while they’re up and down this season, they’ve actually lost five times at home. To be safe, we’ll call that one a draw (1 point). After that is a three game home stand against Charleston, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, and then City finishes the season at New York Red Bulls II (1 point), in Charleston (0 points), and the finale is the last Kings Cup match against St. Louis (3 points).

Obviously none of my projections are rooted in science or math or anything, just how I think Louisville City will stack up in a road game. Adding up my projections, that’s a total of eleven points over eight road games for 1.38 points per road game, well in excess of City’s projected 0.83 points per game on the road so far. If City’s road record remains the same and they win three of their four remaining home games (LC averages 2.22 points per home game), their points per game average would drop from 1.81 to 1.59. The good thing is, that’s still good enough to make the playoffs, just without any foreseeable home field advantage. If City just toes the conference average for road games and holds their home average, that puts them at 1.65 ppg, which should be good enough to stay in third place. If City’s road record matches my stupid gut feeling projections, they would actually improve to 1.85 points per game and take over second place from Charleston. So let’s hope I’m right.

*UOP says Louisville City is third in the East in quality wins, which he/she defines as wins against teams that are projected to make the playoffs (Elsie’s one of those teams!). City’s only played three “quality” games thus far, Oklahoma City (win) and Rochester (draw and a loss).