We are cruising along this week, now into Wednesday. Let’s get right to the kicks!

Power Rankings: Inter Miami, Toronto FC snap back in Matchday 10 (MLS): Top half of the arbitrary rankings!

Expected goals: Who are the biggest underperformers & overperformers in MLS? (MLS): Apparently D.C. United are overperforming based on xG metrics.

Who were the best young-player performers in MLS Matchday 10? (MLS): A certain Jacob Greene earns himself an honorable mention on this list.

PSG suspend Lionel Messi for 2 weeks over unauthorised Saudi trip – sources (ESPN): When you win a World Cup in the (presumed) twilight years of your career, you probably don’t care so much for such authorizations.

Wrexham in MLS? America’s new favourite team would get ANNIHILATED! (Goal): Clickbait article aside, I think someone should schedule a Wrexham-Sporting KC match ASAP. On another note, D.C. United was catching some strays in this article as they are rated the worst MLS team in the Opta Power Rankings. The author does note, though, that D.C. has several players who very recently had been playing in the Premier League, so the comparison between Wrexham and any MLS team should be a nonstarter.

Former D.C. United goalkeeper David Ochoa has been released by his club supposedly for questionable discipline. I may have questioned United’s goalkeeping core in the offseason, but Miller’s season and Bono’s USOC performance have quelled my concerns.

By the time this article was scheduled, the CCL matchup between LAFC and the Philadelphia Union had not yet taken place. I can only hope the match lived up to the CONCACAF potential. Tell us how it went in the comments!

ByKerry Hess

Contributing Author for The District Press

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I had a sensible chuckle at the expected goals piece at MLSsoccer.com. xG is just taking the eye test and trying to assign numbers to it. It’s a very subjective measure.

Riky Nary

In theory, over a year it should equal out, but tracking it over the past few years, you see a trend of who does over/under perform. That is generally better looking and organized teams, so I think there is a variable that the model doesn’t track well.

That said, one note on this. Yes, DC is overperforming xG, but they also don’t have someone on the overperforming top 10 list. I’m not privy to the Opta data, but the fbref data shows that Benteke is actually underperforming and with Fountas only slightly overperforming you’d have to think that its the entire team making up that overperformance. This could be good. DCU may be putting players in practiced situations or just getting lucky. And luck would be shown if we level out as the year goes by.


I think xG and its variations are useful–but only on an initial level. It requires a deeper dive. Are the goals coming from shots/chances that shouldn’t normally be a goal (incredible shot, GK error, or that remarkable player “Owen Goal”?). I think DCU’s numbers in this case are being driven by we aren’t getting a lot of chances in games (we aren’t getting 20+ shots in some matches).

So to really get value from xG data, I think you need to look at it (when it’s over or under) and say “why?” and then analyze that underlying data. And that’s the piece we’re missing here from the Opta data.

Riky Nary

There’s about 5 minutes on DCU at around 47:00 in the latest Extratime show. Couple notes they harp on:
-Culture seems good and team is content switching from 4 to 3 back
-Canouse is an Adams-like player (yes, more of this please. I still don’t know why Acosta is the NT backup when Canouse is a better option here)
-Birnbaum, while maybe not an excellent player, is the heart of the team. Getting rid of him would be an issue
-Benteke = great
-Getting rid of Gressel is funny since now we play with a wingback
I’d kick back at this for 2 reasons:
Najar + Ruan + Greene’s salaries are still less than Gressel’sIn-behind crossing does not equal goes for Benteke. That isn’t our strategy with him.

Last edited 6 months ago by Riky Nary

I get the impression that the MLSsoccer.com writers are stuck in the mid 2010’s where the press was the king. They don’t get that the gradual return to a hybrid possession system changes what teams will value in players. The fact that Rooney picked up Asad for depth speaks volumes about what is valued in an outside mid/wingback. In DC United’s system, possession is valued over crossing. The MLSsoccer.com writers just don’t get that yet.

They are also wrong about Birnbaum. His positioning is excellent, his distribution is good, and his organizational skills are good. He sees the field and closes down the space before he has to make some spectacular play to clean up some missed mark. He is the captain and he also organizes the defense and keeps its shape. You’ll see him yelling to the to the flank players when to anticipate weak side overloads as well as instructing the other center backs how to position themselves to cut out passing lanes.

Long story short, they haven’t paid attention to DC United since 2019 and are slow on catching up with what is happening here. They’ve been just writing about how bad we are for four years now. They weren’t paying attention and are now surprised that our team is now competitive despite all the offseason talent signings and now they are just baffled at what is a modern update on the 20th century 4-4-2.


While it is kind of funny that we’ve switched to a formation where he’d technically have a place, what Najar and Santos really provide is possession. They’re either going to dribble past pressure or draw a foul. Gressel is a hard worker and has a pretty cross, but he wouldn’t have been able to get us past the heavy 20ish minutes we endured over the weekend.

Acosta’s main advantage over anyone else at this point is his familiarity with the team.


First, that’s a shame about Ochoa. He could be a very good GK but he’s starting to get a reputation that will deny him club opportunities.

Second, a deeper dive in the xG data would be interesting. We haven’t been scoring a lot. I don’t get that our goals have come off of a lot of wildly unexpected shots from tough angles or great distances. So a better understanding of the data and why our xG numbers are so off would be interesting.

Third, I have to laugh at the Messi suspension. “You took a trip away from training so instead we’re going to give you two weeks off!” That’s sort of like the old WC Fields line about “first place is a week in Philadelphia, second place is two weeks in Philadelphia!”

Brendan Cartwright

I don’t know if this has a lot to do with anything in terms of xG or not, but a fair number of our goals have come in either the first minute of the second half, or in second half stoppage time. It’s a case of catching defenses napping a bit, either not being ready, or being a little bit fatigued (and possibly out of position).

You’re right that it seems odd to be overperforming when we don’t really have that many goals. Perhaps that speaks to the lack of a true playmaker on the team. We generate goals from crosses and deadballs, Benteke knockdowns, and some good shots from outside the box.

Talonesque #

I’m a bit suspicious of the xG model they’re using, I suspect it only looks at the absolute position relative to the goal, and that’s it.

For example, yes, Taxi shot from outside the box against Orlando, but in terms of openness, that’s a PK for him. We scored 3 goals, and had other good chances, and yet we had 1.15 in that game? Suspicious

Last edited 6 months ago by Talonesque #
Talonesque #

Apparently it’s Benny’s birthday today. I hope he doesn’t suffer any cuts at Houston, I’m pretty sure the man still bleeds black and red. He did a great service to United for a long, long time, let’s celebrate the man.



Bryan McEachern


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