More Equal than Others
Elo rating adjusted USMNT production
Someone posted some numbers on the internet and they made people mad. A call went out for context. I answered that call and I’m here with the unskewed numbers, the real truth, the proof that your preconceived opinions are correct. Your inferiority complex has been salved and order has been restored with these good numbers.
To bring you the good numbers first I had to source the dirty raw stuff. The basis for all my goals, assists, and minutes comes from Transfermarkt (which sometimes classifies penalties won as assists). To add the context I went to eloratings.net to get the strength of opponent for each goal, assist, and minute. I used the pre-kickoff rating for each team the USMNT played and multiplied that by each goal, assist, and minute. I then added up each player’s total and found the average Elo rating for each goal, assist, and minute.
I set the baseline at 1700 Elo rating points, which is roughly the level of a WC bubble team (currently around Nigeria or Ireland). So currently, one goal or assist against Nigeria is worth 1711 Elo points and 1.006 Elo adjusted goals. 90 minutes against Nigeria is adjusted down to 89.42 Elo adjusted minutes. So scoring 1 goal against Nigeria while playing 90 minutes against them equals 1.01 Elo Adjusted goals/90.
I went with Post-Couva stats for USMNT players, since that was the de facto start of the current cycle. Only Tim Weah’s minutes came against opponents with an average Elo rating above 1700, his average strength of opponent was 1859.94. Josh Sargent faced the weakest average opposition at 1632.14. Pulisic faced the second weakest set of opponents with an average of 1639.74. Over that entire period the USMNT’s average opponent had a 1708.52 rating.
Here are some select USMNT players’ numbers:
The player whose production got dinged the most after adjusting for opponent strength was Weston McKennie, retaining only 81.03% of its raw value. Then Morris, who kept only 82.05%, which was largely due to goals worth 1479.20 and assists worth 1401.57 on average. Pulisic was middle of the pack, keeping 84.23% of his raw production. Tim Weah came out best improving his raw g+a/90 by 17.69%. Altidore did the second best retaining 92.23% of his raw production from limited minutes.
Overall what does this mean? If the US played a split Nigerian/Irish squad that created a 1700 Elo rated team and we started Sargent, Morris, Pulisic, and McKennie and played them the full 90, we should expect just that group to score 1.69 goals! That’d be fun, split Nigerian/Irish kits, the US probably scoring more than once, see, I told you these numbers were good. Now that that’s settled we can go back to our lives knowing things have been placed in the proper context producing our desired outcomes.