Game Grades and Player Power Rankings

The Battle of Cannae was fought in 216 B.C. between Carthage, under Hannibal, and the Roman Army under Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro. Hannibal executed a tactic known as the pincer movement, also known as the double envelopment tactic, and feigned retreat.  The tactic involves a unit or army baiting an enemy into attacking, or luring them into a seemingly more advantageous terrain, then surrounding their flanks and attacking them from all sides. It is considered one of the greatest tactical defeats in history and one of the worst defeats in Roman history.


By moving to a 4-4-2, playing with two naturally defensive midfielders in Diego Chara and Jack Jewsbury, Porter invited New England to break bread in his midfield home, hoping New England would get drunk with possession, fall asleep on the counter, and become ripe for defeat.

New England head coach Jay Heaps at halftime…

“…The one thing that concerns me is the counter attack.”

After being asked about the speed of Portland’s counter…

“They are just waiting, keeping 1-2 guys in an outlet position, almost allowing us to get over run in our half. We have to be smarter.”

It worked, sort of. The Timbers conceded 62% of the possession and matched New England in shots on goal with 2.

Like Hannibal, the Timbers’ end would be self-inflicted. As the shadows of the game grew too long, and the Timbers’ legs grew weary, Jack Barmby giveth and Jack Barmby taketh away, and the Timbers return home with a draw.

As a result of the tactics,  the number of defensive events[footnote]moments where grades were given[/footnote]rose to their highest of the year.  The bump led to a season-high score for Jermaine Taylor (+16), no not just his highest score but the highest score given for any single game grade.  It wasn’t undeserved either, as his .67 efficiency score[footnote]which divides the game grade by the number of events graded [/footnote]was the 2nd highest of the season.  My man Jeremiah O’Sullivan has been kind enough GIF all of Taylor’s touches for this post so you can judge for yourself, scroll to the bottom for Taylor’s GIFs.  Ironically, Taylor had his highest score of the season just before the return of his replacement, Liam Ridgewell whose .71 efficiency score against Columbus is the highest to date.

The first experiment with Fanendo Adi (-5) and Jack McInerney (-7) was uninspiring and ineffectual. The counter was open but far too often as Melano broke out, he’d run himself into a cul-de-sac where he was the only boy his age to play with.

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 9.03.30 PM

Melano needed a distributor that would get involved with the attack right about where that #13 is and Nagbe needed someone to play off just under Adi, like a number DV8. It might have worked a little better if McInerney hadn’t had an off game, where it appeared someone cemented his boots in stone earning himself a -4 possession grade. I wouldn’t call the two forwards idea over but the first date didn’t go well and Caleb Porter is a little prickly about first impressions.

The model we’re using, basically breaking the game down into penetrations on the offensive and defensive sides and adding scores for keeping possession, is limited to just that. It’s not predictive and it’s not prescriptive, it’s descriptive.  The goal is to refine the understanding of what is there, not what should or could be. So it’s always interesting to me to get see how the grades line up with people’s impressions.  Fortunately for me, I was able to watch the game on Wednesday with resident MLS Czar Jeff Bull. If you ever get a chance to watch a game with Jeff, take advantage of it, he’s a treasure trove of insights. I made note of something he said that seemed consistent with our grades.

Quote Paraphrased

  1. I like Valentin, his passing is almost inventive but I feel like he offers nothing on defense.

Player Impact ScoreEfficiency ScoreAttackingDefensePossession
2016 Overall Grade-3-.043-4-2

The Good

28’ – McInerney heads Valentin’s cross hiiiigh over the bar

The Bad

12’ – Rowe nutmegs Valentin to get into the box, earns a corner

The Ugly

55’ – Great play by Smith to keep it in against Valentin, Smith’s cross goes right to Klute, who (for some reason) heads it back across goal allowing Kobayashi to take a shot which goes 45 degrees to his right


Game Score

GameImpact ScoreEfficiency Score+ Attacking- Attacking+ Defense-Defense+Possession- Possession
Match 2 Vs. San Jose61.37502449232819
Match 1 vs. Columbus61.44401150151319
Match 3 vs. Real Salt Lake39.25603423121513
Match 4 vs. Orlando City-32-.17393921361936
Match 5 vs. LA Galaxy20.13292045321416
Match 6 vs. Dallas-4-.01674341562437
Match 7 vs. San Jose42.18662955482022
Match 8 vs. New England32.14402363432429

Player Grades vs. New England

Player Impact ScoreEfficiency Score+ Attacking- Attacking+ Defense-Defense+Possession- Possession
Zarek Valentin-5-.242361000
Nat Borchers6.430110300
Lucas Melano10.38712394
Jermaine Taylor16.672018301
Jack McInerney-7-.47210426
Jack Jewsbury6.33329400
Jack Barmby1.14311200
Fanendo Adi-5-.19451269
Diego Chara-1-.06025631
Darren Mattocks3.60301100
Darlington Nagbe10.381222145
Dairon Asprilla-2-.25112103
Chris Klute00146300

2016 Season Player Rankings

Player Impact ScoreEfficiency Score+ Attacking- Attacking+ Defense-Defense+Possession- Possession
Zarek Valentin-3-.041411222602
Ned Grabavoy-5-.0983101868
Nat Borchers32.3222632913
Lucas Melano27.2235181592622
Liam Ridgewell10.710012200
Jermaine Taylor28.22147643706
Jack McInerney-1-.0220112749
Jack Jewsbury-1-.0355131411
Jack Barmby-13-.328831336
Fanendo Adi43.3843181125428
Diego Valeri39.18108535101728
Diego Chara7.052820434268
Darren Mattocks10.421114224
Darlington Nagbe23.253111861918
Dairon Asprilla-17-.28112174414
Chris Klute7.10109261428
Alvas Powell4.0331233523824

Top 5 Performances in 2016

Player Impact ScoreEfficiency Score+ Attacking- Attacking+ Defense-Defense+Possession- Possession
Faneno Adi vs. LAG14.541122074
Diego Valeri vs. Crew13.761410011
Diego Chara vs. Crew12.75608200
Nat Borchers vs SJ Match 112.672013201
Jermaine Taylor vs. New England16.672018301

T0p 5 Worst Performances in 2016

Player Impact ScoreEfficiency Score+ Attacking- Attacking+ Defense-Defense+Possession- Possession
Jack Barmby vs. Orlando City-15-.6361915
Ned Grabavoy vs. FC Dallas-10-.63013606
Alvas Powell vs. FC Dallas-9-.33741816
Alvas Powell vs. Orlando City-9-.31762716
Jack Jewsbury vs. FC Dallas-8-.42331011


Jermaine Taylor’s All Touches

1st Half

6’ – Clears it out of the box (to NER)

7’ – Header clearance in the box (out of bounds)

9’ – Sliding clearance in the box (out for a corner)

11’ – Chest stop, smashes it down the field (to NER)

11’ – Header clearance (short to NER)

13’ – Side header to gain possession (to himself)

13’ – Deep pass to Adi, on target (to PTFC)

14’ – Pass back to Gleeson (to PTFC)

16’ – Deflects a ball in the box right to Klute (to PTFC)

16’ – Steals it from Kobayashi, passes/drills it to Klute (to PTFC)

21’ – Def v. Davies, kicks it off him for PTFC possession (PTFC ball)

22’ – Clears it out of the box out of bounds (NER ball)

23’ – Intercepting header to Valentin (to PTFC)

27’ – Comes up field for a header, but heads it right to NER (to NER)

28’ – Receives simple back pass, passes it to Chara (to PTFC)

30’ – Receives simple back pass, passes it to Nagbe, Nagbe pass back intercepted (to PTFC)

30’ – Tackle and steal v. Davies, pass down sideline to Valentin (Davies injured) (to PTFC)

34’ – 4 touches in 25 seconds, quick and short passes (PTFC)

35’ – 2 quick one touch passes (PTFC)

36’ – Header out of the box to Jewsbury (to PTFC)

36’ – Steps in front of Rowe, after Rowe receives a long curling cross from Smith and tries to take a shot (Def.)

40’ – Goes for a header in the offensive box, but Shuttleworth knocks him down from behind (Off.)

41’ – Clearance in the box goes out of bounds (NER ball)

42’ – Comes up to challenge for the ball causing NER to give it up to Chara (to PTFC)

42’ – Comes out to head it directly to Nagbe, then 2 simple passes (PTFC)

45’ + 1’ – Steps up to take on Nguyen as he drives into the box, shot wide (NER)

<strong>2nd Half</strong>

46’ – Misses a header, allowing Rowe to get a shot off, saved by Gleeson (to NER)

47’ – After a terrible GK, Fegundez blows by, Taylor pops one up in the air, and gets kneed in the thigh/hip going for a header (fouled)

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55’ – Gets his foot in the way on a GK, but goes right to NER (to NER)

56’ – Heads a cross out of the box, touched by Chara, back to NER (to NER)

59’ – Low cross guided out of bounds (NER ball)

60’ – Sliding clearance right to Adi, great anticipation (to PTFC)

65’ – Jumps to head it over Agudelo out of the box, right to Ngyuen (to NER)

67’ – Comes out to guard Agudelo, but Agudelo lays it off for Ngyuen (NER)

77’ – Chests it down in the box, right in front of Agudelo, but is able to clear it (to NER)

77’ – Gets knocked down in the box allowing NER to get past him (NER)

78’ – Simple pass to Jewsbury (PTFC)

89’ – OG Taylor (**1-1**) (NER)

Replay of OG (net cam)


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