# Game state with FBref data

r
soccer
Calculating expected goal difference (xGD) with respect to game state, using FBref data.
Author

Tony ElHabr

Published

October 25, 2023

## Introduction

Soccer is a game defined by its discrete, low-scoring nature, where the dynamics of a match are often dictated by the “game state”. Whether a team is leading, trailing, or level with their opponent at a specific moment can often influence how aggressively a team plays. Contextualizing statistics like expected goals (xG) can shed new light on how we evaluate team performance.

Consider this scenario: a team enters a match as the underdog. They play aggressively early on, getting a few shots on target and eventually scoring, taking a 1-0 lead going into halftime. After the half, they decide to switch into a more defensive scheme, pulling everyone back towards their 18-yard box when the opponent has the ball. They end the match with no additional shots or xG accumulated, but they win the game. While their secondhalf statistics look poor because they “parked the bus”, they arguably increased their odds of winning. If we consider the game state when looking at the winning team’s statistics, we can reason about why their xG looks poor.

So, game state is useful, right? Yet, game state analysis remains somewhat under-utilized in soccer analytics, in my opinion. Why is that? Well, it’s not without its challenges. Contextualizing numbers according to game state can introduce biases, leading us to over-attribute outcomes to tactical choices. Moreover, the calculations involved can be far from trivial.

So that’s what this post is for. I’ll walk through how to calculate expected goals difference (xGD)1–the difference between your team’s expected goals and your opponent’s–with respect to the game state, using data from FBref.

## Data pull

The 2023 Major League Soccer (MLS) regular season just ended, and I’m interested to see what we might learn about the teams who qualified for playoffs. So, naturally, I’ve chosen to focus on this past MLS season for our game state calculations.

To begin2, we pull raw FBref data from pre-saved {worldfootballR} release data, starting with match shots.

Code
## data scrape
library(worldfootballR) ## version: 0.6.4.9

## data manipulation
library(dplyr)
library(lubridate)
library(tidyr)

COUNTRY <- 'USA'
GENDER <- 'M'
TIER <- '1st'
SEASON_END_YEAR <- 2023

country = COUNTRY,
gender = GENDER,
tier = TIER,
season_end_year = SEASON_END_YEAR
)
dplyr::glimpse(raw_shots)
#> Rows: 15,277
#> Columns: 23
#> $MatchURL <chr> "https://fbref.com/en/matches/48a684ed/Nashvil… #>$ Date             <chr> "2023-02-25", "2023-02-25", "2023-02-25", "202…
#> $Squad <chr> "Nashville", "Nashville", "Nashville", "Nashvi… #>$ Home_Away        <chr> "Home", "Home", "Home", "Home", "Home", "Home"…
#> $Match_Half <dbl> 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2… #>$ Minute           <chr> "6", "13", "31", "34", "45+1", "51", "73", "80…
#> $Player <chr> "Jacob Shaffelburg", "Sean Davis", "Teal Bunbu… #>$ Player_Href      <chr> "/en/players/339a2561/Jacob-Shaffelburg", "/en…
#> $xG <chr> "0.39", "0.09", "0.03", "0.25", "0.04", "0.02"… #>$ PSxG             <chr> "0.47", "", "0.06", "0.74", "", "", "", "0.96"…
#> $Outcome <chr> "Saved", "Off Target", "Saved", "Goal", "Off T… #>$ Distance         <chr> "16", "18", "29", "8", "17", "25", "28", "11",…
#> $Body Part <chr> "Right Foot", "Left Foot", "Right Foot", "Righ… #>$ Notes            <chr> "", "Volley", "Deflected", "Volley", "", "", "…
#> $Player_SCA_1 <chr> "Randall Leal", "Aníbal Godoy", "Jacob Shaffel… #>$ Event_SCA_1      <chr> "Pass (Live)", "Pass (Live)", "Pass (Live)", "…
#> $Player_SCA_2 <chr> "Walker Zimmerman", "Jack Maher", "Joe Willis"… #>$ Event_SCA_2      <chr> "Pass (Live)", "Pass (Live)", "Pass (Live)", "…
#> $Competition_Name <chr> "Major League Soccer", "Major League Soccer", … #>$ Gender           <chr> "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", "…
#> $Country <chr> "USA", "USA", "USA", "USA", "USA", "USA", "USA… #>$ Tier             <chr> "1st", "1st", "1st", "1st", "1st", "1st", "1st…
#> $Season_End_Year <int> 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023… Given a match URL like this, worldfootballR::load_fb_match_shooting() provides data from the “Shots” table on the page. While it might seem like the shots table is all we’d need to calculate expected goal difference (xGD), FBref’s match shot log table doesn’t include own goals. Nonetheless, we can use worldfootballR::load_fb_match_summary() to extract timestamps for own goals from the “Match Summary” timeline. Code raw_match_summaries <- worldfootballR::load_fb_match_summary( country = COUNTRY, gender = GENDER, tier = TIER, season_end_year = SEASON_END_YEAR ) dplyr::glimpse(raw_match_summaries) #> Rows: 9,565 #> Columns: 33 #>$ MatchURL          <chr> "https://fbref.com/en/matches/48a684ed/Nashvi…
#> $League <chr> "Major League Soccer", "Major League Soccer",… #>$ Match_Date        <chr> "2023-02-25", "2023-02-25", "2023-02-25", "20…
#> $Matchweek <chr> "Major League Soccer (Regular Season)", "Majo… #>$ Home_Team         <chr> "Nashville SC", "Nashville SC", "Nashville SC…
#> $Home_Formation <chr> "4-2-3-1", "4-2-3-1", "4-2-3-1", "4-2-3-1", "… #>$ Home_Score        <dbl> 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, …
#> $Home_xG <dbl> 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, … #>$ Home_Goals        <chr> "Walker Zimmerman · 34&rsquor; Jacob Shaffelb…
#> $Home_Yellow_Cards <chr> "1", "1", "1", "1", "1", "1", "1", "1", "1", … #>$ Home_Red_Cards    <chr> "0", "0", "0", "0", "0", "0", "0", "0", "0", …
#> $Away_Team <chr> "New York City FC", "New York City FC", "New … #>$ Away_Formation    <chr> "4-2-3-1", "4-2-3-1", "4-2-3-1", "4-2-3-1", "…
#> $Away_Score <dbl> 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, … #>$ Away_xG           <dbl> 0.4, 0.4, 0.4, 0.4, 0.4, 0.4, 0.4, 0.4, 0.4, …
#> $Away_Goals <chr> "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "… #>$ Away_Yellow_Cards <chr> "4", "4", "4", "4", "4", "4", "4", "4", "4", …
#> $Away_Red_Cards <chr> "0", "0", "0", "0", "0", "0", "0", "0", "0", … #>$ Game_URL          <chr> "https://fbref.com/en/matches/48a684ed/Nashvi…
#> $Team <chr> "New York City FC", "Nashville SC", "Nashvill… #>$ Home_Away         <chr> "Away", "Home", "Home", "Away", "Away", "Home…
#> $Event_Time <dbl> 28, 34, 58, 62, 70, 72, 74, 75, 80, 82, 82, 8… #>$ Is_Pens           <lgl> FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FAL…
#> $Event_Half <dbl> 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, … #>$ Event_Type        <chr> "Yellow Card", "Goal", "Yellow Card", "Yellow…
#> $Event_Players <chr> "Braian Cufré", "Walker Zimmerman Assist: Faf… #>$ Score_Progression <chr> "0:0", "1:0", "1:0", "1:0", "1:0", "1:0", "1:…
#> $Penalty_Number <dbl> NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, N… #>$ Competition_Name  <chr> "Major League Soccer", "Major League Soccer",…
#> $Gender <chr> "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", … #>$ Country           <chr> "USA", "USA", "USA", "USA", "USA", "USA", "US…
#> $Tier <chr> "1st", "1st", "1st", "1st", "1st", "1st", "1s… #>$ Season_End_Year   <int> 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 202…

## Data wrangling

Now we start to clean up the raw data. Starting with the match summary data, we:

1. Create a match_id field, to make it easy to join this data set with the shots data set.
2. Clean up the time fields, minutes and minutes_added.
3. Rename existing columns.
Code
## Extract the from "47880eb7" from "https://fbref.com/en/matches/47880eb7/Liverpool-Manchester-City-November-10-2019-Premier-League"
extract_fbref_match_id <- function(match_url) {
basename(dirname(match_url))
}

match_summaries <- raw_match_summaries |>
dplyr::group_by(MatchURL) |>
dplyr::mutate(
match_summary_rn = dplyr::row_number(dplyr::desc(Event_Time)),
match_has_no_penalties = all(Event_Type != 'Penalty')
) |>
dplyr::ungroup() |>
dplyr::mutate(
match_has_no_goals = Away_Score == 0 & Home_Score == 0
) |>
## Drop non-shot events, e.g. card and substitution events.
##   Always keep the first timeline event, so that we're not accidentally dropping matches.
dplyr::filter(
Event_Type %in% c('Goal', 'Own Goal', 'Penalty') |
## don't drop games with no goals
(match_has_no_goals & match_has_no_penalties & match_summary_rn == 1)
) |>
dplyr::transmute(
match_id = extract_fbref_match_id(MatchURL),
season = Season_End_Year,
gender = Gender,
tier = Tier,
date = lubridate::ymd(Match_Date),
home_team = Home_Team ,
away_team = Away_Team,
period = as.integer(Event_Half),
## ensure that minutes always has a value
minutes = dplyr::case_when(
period == 1L & Event_Time > 45L ~ 45L,
period == 2L & Event_Time > 90L ~ 90L,
.default = Event_Time
) |> as.integer(),
period == 1L & Event_Time > 45 ~ Event_Time - 45L,
period == 2L & Event_Time > 90 ~ Event_Time - 90L,
.default = NA_integer_
),
home_g = as.integer(gsub('[:].*$', '', Score_Progression)), ## after event away_g = as.integer(gsub('^.*[:]', '', Score_Progression)), is_own_goal = Event_Type == 'Own Goal', team = Team, player = Event_Players ) dplyr::glimpse(match_summaries) #> Rows: 1,752 #> Columns: 15 #>$ match_id      <chr> "48a684ed", "48a684ed", "1861e533", "1861e533", "…
#> $season <int> 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2… #>$ gender        <chr> "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", "M", "M",…
#> $tier <chr> "1st", "1st", "1st", "1st", "1st", "1st", "1st", … #>$ date          <date> 2023-02-25, 2023-02-25, 2023-02-25, 2023-02-25, …
#> $home_team <chr> "Nashville SC", "Nashville SC", "FC Cincinnati", … #>$ away_team     <chr> "New York City FC", "New York City FC", "Houston …
#> $period <int> 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 2, 1, 1, 2, 2, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1… #>$ minutes       <int> 34, 80, 19, 45, 48, 48, 12, 39, 90, 90, 28, 45, 5…
#> $minutes_added <dbl> NA, NA, NA, 2, NA, NA, NA, NA, 3, 9, NA, 3, NA, N… #>$ home_g        <int> 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 0, 0, 0, 1, 2, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 0…
#> $away_g <int> 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1… #>$ is_own_goal   <lgl> FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, …
#> $team <chr> "Nashville SC", "Nashville SC", "FC Cincinnati", … #>$ player        <chr> "Walker Zimmerman Assist: Fafà Picault", "Jacob S…

Next, we start to clean up the shots data frame. The data wrangling is similar.

Code
shots <- raw_shots |>
dplyr::transmute(
match_id = extract_fbref_match_id(MatchURL),
period = as.integer(Match_Half),
## convert "45+2" to "45"
minutes = ifelse(
grepl('[+]', Minute),
as.integer(gsub('(^[0-9]+)[+]([0-9]+$)', '\\1', Minute)), as.integer(Minute) ), ## convert "45+2" to "2" minutes_added = ifelse( grepl('[+]', Minute), as.integer(gsub('(^[0-9]+)[+]([0-9]+$)', '\\2', Minute)),
NA_integer_
),
is_home = Home_Away == 'Home',
player = Player,
is_goal = Outcome == 'Goal',
xg = as.double(xG)
)
dplyr::glimpse(shots)
#> Rows: 15,277
#> Columns: 9
#> $match_id <chr> "48a684ed", "48a684ed", "48a684ed", "48a684ed", "… #>$ period        <int> 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2…
#> $minutes <int> 6, 13, 31, 34, 45, 51, 73, 80, 83, 19, 30, 41, 45… #>$ minutes_added <int> NA, NA, NA, NA, 1, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, 2,…
#> $is_home <lgl> TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, T… #>$ team          <chr> "Nashville", "Nashville", "Nashville", "Nashville…
#> $player <chr> "Jacob Shaffelburg", "Sean Davis", "Teal Bunbury"… #>$ is_goal       <lgl> FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, TRUE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, T…
#> $xg <dbl> 0.39, 0.09, 0.03, 0.25, 0.04, 0.02, 0.02, 0.45, 0… ### Accounting for Own goals Now, for the ugliest part of all this shot data wrangling–handling own goals. First, we inject “synthetic” records into the shots data for every case where the match summary indicates that there is an own goal. Code shots_with_own_goals <- dplyr::bind_rows( shots |> dplyr::transmute( match_id, period, minutes, minutes_added, is_home, team, player, is_goal, xg, is_own_goal = FALSE ), ## synthetic events for own goals match_summaries |> dplyr::filter( is_own_goal ) |> dplyr::transmute( match_id, period, minutes, minutes_added, is_home = team == home_team, team, player, is_goal = TRUE, xg = NA_real_, is_own_goal = TRUE ) ) Next, we add proper, cleaned columns for goals and xG. Code clean_shots <- shots_with_own_goals |> ## To get meta-information about the game dplyr::inner_join( match_summaries |> dplyr::distinct(match_id, home_team, away_team), by = dplyr::join_by(match_id), relationship = 'many-to-one' ) |> dplyr::mutate( home_g = dplyr::case_when( ## Note that fotmob would list the away team for an own goal but fbref ## lists the home team (is_goal | is_own_goal) & is_home ~ 1L, is_own_goal & is_home ~ 1L, TRUE ~ 0L ), away_g = dplyr::case_when( (is_goal | is_own_goal) & !is_home ~ 1L, TRUE ~ 0L ), home_xg = dplyr::case_when( is_home ~ dplyr::coalesce(xg, 0), TRUE ~ 0L ## even for own goals ), away_xg = dplyr::case_when( !is_home ~ dplyr::coalesce(xg, 0), TRUE ~ 0L ) ) |> dplyr::group_by(match_id) |> ## Differentiate between shots in the same minute. dplyr::mutate( shot_idx = dplyr::row_number((minutes + dplyr::coalesce(minutes_added, 0L))) ) |> dplyr::ungroup() |> dplyr::transmute( shot_id = sprintf('%s-%02d', match_id, shot_idx), match_id, period, minutes, minutes_added, is_home, is_goal, is_own_goal, player, home_team, away_team, home_g, away_g, home_xg, away_xg ) dplyr::glimpse(clean_shots) #> Rows: 15,335 #> Columns: 15 #>$ shot_id       <chr> "48a684ed-01", "48a684ed-02", "48a684ed-05", "48a…
#> $match_id <chr> "48a684ed", "48a684ed", "48a684ed", "48a684ed", "… #>$ period        <int> 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2…
#> $minutes <int> 6, 13, 31, 34, 45, 51, 73, 80, 83, 19, 30, 41, 45… #>$ minutes_added <dbl> NA, NA, NA, NA, 1, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, 2,…
#> $is_home <lgl> TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, T… #>$ is_goal       <lgl> FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, TRUE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, T…
#> $is_own_goal <lgl> FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, … #>$ player        <chr> "Jacob Shaffelburg", "Sean Davis", "Teal Bunbury"…
#> $home_team <chr> "Nashville SC", "Nashville SC", "Nashville SC", "… #>$ away_team     <chr> "New York City FC", "New York City FC", "New York…
#> $home_g <int> 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0… #>$ away_g        <int> 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0…
#> $home_xg <dbl> 0.39, 0.09, 0.03, 0.25, 0.04, 0.02, 0.02, 0.45, 0… #>$ away_xg       <dbl> 0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0…

### Double Counting Shot Events

Up to this point, we have one record per shot. But, to calculate goals and expected goals (xG) conceded for any given team at any given point in a game, we can make our lives easier by “double counting” each shot event, once from each team’s perspective.

To do that, we first re-assign (“re-stack”) teams and goals based on the home and away teams’ perspectives.

Code
restacked_shots <- dplyr::bind_rows(
clean_shots |>
dplyr::filter(is_home) |>
dplyr::transmute(
shot_id,
match_id,
period,
minutes,
is_home,
is_goal,
is_own_goal,
player,
team = home_team,
opponent = away_team,
g = home_g,
g_conceded = away_g,
xg = home_xg,
xg_conceded = away_xg
),
clean_shots |>
dplyr::filter(!is_home) |>
dplyr::transmute(
shot_id,
match_id,
period,
minutes,
is_home,
is_goal,
is_own_goal,
player,
team = away_team,
opponent = home_team,
g = away_g,
g_conceded = home_g,
xg = away_xg,
xg_conceded = home_xg
)
)

Then, we replicate the whole data frame, indicating whether we’re looking at the shot events from a given team’s point of view (pov = "primary") or their opponents’ point of view ("secondary").

Code
doublecounted_restacked_shots <- dplyr::bind_rows(
restacked_shots |> dplyr::mutate(pov = 'primary', .before = 1),
restacked_shots |>
## re-assign to temporary variable names first, so that way we don't accidentlaly overwrite information
dplyr::rename(
team1 = team,
team2 = opponent,
g1 = g,
g2 = g_conceded,
xg1 = xg,
xg2 = xg_conceded
) |>
## then formally re-assign columns
dplyr::rename(
team = team2,
opponent = team1,
g = g2,
g_conceded = g1,
xg = xg2,
xg_conceded = xg1
) |>
dplyr::mutate(
is_home = !is_home
) |>
dplyr::mutate(
pov = 'secondary',
.before = 1
)
) |>
dplyr::arrange(match_id, shot_id, pov)
dplyr::glimpse(doublecounted_restacked_shots)
#> Rows: 30,670
#> Columns: 16
#> $pov <chr> "primary", "secondary", "primary", "secondary", "… #>$ shot_id       <chr> "00069d73-01", "00069d73-01", "00069d73-02", "000…
#> $match_id <chr> "00069d73", "00069d73", "00069d73", "00069d73", "… #>$ period        <int> 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1…
#> $minutes <int> 2, 2, 4, 4, 9, 9, 20, 20, 24, 24, 32, 32, 34, 34,… #>$ minutes_added <dbl> NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, N…
#> $is_home <lgl> TRUE, FALSE, TRUE, FALSE, TRUE, FALSE, TRUE, FALS… #>$ is_goal       <lgl> FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, …
#> $is_own_goal <lgl> FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, FALSE, … #>$ player        <chr> "Hany Mukhtar", "Hany Mukhtar", "Teal Bunbury", "…
#> $team <chr> "Nashville SC", "Chicago Fire", "Nashville SC", "… #>$ opponent      <chr> "Chicago Fire", "Nashville SC", "Chicago Fire", "…
#> $g <int> 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0… #>$ g_conceded    <int> 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0…
#> $xg <dbl> 0.04, 0.00, 0.17, 0.00, 0.02, 0.00, 0.12, 0.00, 0… #>$ xg_conceded   <dbl> 0.00, 0.04, 0.00, 0.17, 0.00, 0.02, 0.00, 0.12, 0…

### Calculating Cumulative Goals

Next, we calculate cumulative goals and xG scored and conceded.

Code
cumu_doublecounted_restacked_shots <- doublecounted_restacked_shots |>
dplyr::group_by(match_id, team) |>
dplyr::mutate(
dplyr::across(
c(g, g_conceded),
list(cumu = cumsum)
)
) |>
dplyr::ungroup() |>
dplyr::mutate(
gamestate = g_cumu - g_conceded_cumu
)

And then we bring everything together to create a singular data frame from which it is straightforward to calculate xGD with respect to game state.3

Code
ORDERED_gamestate_LABELS <- c('Trailing', 'Tied', 'Leading')
gamestate_shots <- cumu_doublecounted_restacked_shots |>
dplyr::inner_join(
match_summaries |>
dplyr::distinct(
match_id,
season,
date,
home_team,
away_team
),
by = dplyr::join_by(match_id)
) |>
dplyr::transmute(
pov,
match_id,
season,
date,
home_team,
away_team,
team,
player,
shot_id,
period,
minutes,
time = minutes + dplyr::coalesce(minutes_added, 0L),
xg,
xgd = xg - xg_conceded,
gamestate = cut(
gamestate,
breaks = c(-Inf, -1, 0, Inf),
labels = ORDERED_gamestate_LABELS
)
) |>
dplyr::group_by(match_id, team) |>
dplyr::arrange(shot_id, .by_group = TRUE) |>
dplyr::mutate(
pre_shot_gamestate = dplyr::lag(gamestate, default = ORDERED_gamestate_LABELS[2])
) |>
dplyr::ungroup()
dplyr::glimpse(gamestate_shots)
#> Rows: 30,670
#> Columns: 17
#> $pov <chr> "secondary", "secondary", "secondary", "seco… #>$ match_id           <chr> "00069d73", "00069d73", "00069d73", "00069d7…
#> $season <int> 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 20… #>$ date               <date> 2023-05-06, 2023-05-06, 2023-05-06, 2023-05…
#> $home_team <chr> "Nashville SC", "Nashville SC", "Nashville S… #>$ away_team          <chr> "Chicago Fire", "Chicago Fire", "Chicago Fir…
#> $team <chr> "Chicago Fire", "Chicago Fire", "Chicago Fir… #>$ player             <chr> "Hany Mukhtar", "Teal Bunbury", "Hany Mukhta…
#> $shot_id <chr> "00069d73-01", "00069d73-02", "00069d73-03",… #>$ period             <int> 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1,…
#> $minutes <int> 2, 4, 9, 20, 24, 32, 34, 35, 39, 40, 41, 42,… #>$ minutes_added      <dbl> NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, …
#> $time <dbl> 2, 4, 9, 20, 24, 32, 34, 35, 39, 40, 41, 42,… #>$ xg                 <dbl> 0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0.…
#> $xgd <dbl> -0.04, -0.17, -0.02, -0.12, -0.05, -0.08, -0… #>$ gamestate          <fct> Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Ti…
#> $pre_shot_gamestate <fct> Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Ti… ### Padding end-of-match events Oh, wait! We should probably account for the amount of time spent in a game state when contextualizing xGD. To do that properly, we should add more synthetic records for the end of halves. Unfortunately, FBref does not provide the exact ending minute of each half, as far as I know. Thus, we’ll “pad” our data with artificial records to mark the end of halves–the 45th minute in the first half / 90th minute in the second half–using some heuristics. 1. If there are no shots after the last regular minute in a half, we add 3 minutes. (3 minutes is about the median amount of minutes allocated for extra time.) 2. If the last shot is after the last regular minute in a half, we take the maximum of: • Adding 3 minutes beyond the last regular minute (like (1)) or • Adding one minute beyond the last shot. Code LAST_MIN_BUFFER <- 3 last_min_pad <- gamestate_shots |> dplyr::select( match_id, season, date, team, pre_shot_gamestate, period, time ) |> dplyr::group_by(match_id, team, period) |> dplyr::slice_max(time, n = 1, with_ties = FALSE) |> dplyr::ungroup() |> dplyr::mutate( xg = 0, xgd = 0, last_regular_min = ifelse(period == 1L, 45L, 90L), time = pmax(last_regular_min + LAST_MIN_BUFFER, time + 1) ) padded_gamestate_shots <- dplyr::bind_rows( gamestate_shots, last_min_pad ) |> dplyr::arrange(match_id, time) gamestate_shots_and_durations <- padded_gamestate_shots |> dplyr::group_by(match_id, team) |> dplyr::mutate( prev_period = dplyr::lag(period), prev_time = dplyr::lag(time) ) |> dplyr::ungroup() |> dplyr::mutate( duration = dplyr::case_when( period == 1L & is.na(prev_period) ~ time - 0L, period == 2L & period != prev_period ~ time - 45L, TRUE ~ time - prev_time ) ) dplyr::glimpse(gamestate_shots_and_durations) #> Rows: 32,642 #> Columns: 21 #>$ pov                <chr> "secondary", "primary", "secondary", "primar…
#> $match_id <chr> "00069d73", "00069d73", "00069d73", "00069d7… #>$ season             <int> 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 2023, 20…
#> $date <date> 2023-05-06, 2023-05-06, 2023-05-06, 2023-05… #>$ home_team          <chr> "Nashville SC", "Nashville SC", "Nashville S…
#> $away_team <chr> "Chicago Fire", "Chicago Fire", "Chicago Fir… #>$ team               <chr> "Chicago Fire", "Nashville SC", "Chicago Fir…
#> $player <chr> "Hany Mukhtar", "Hany Mukhtar", "Teal Bunbur… #>$ shot_id            <chr> "00069d73-01", "00069d73-01", "00069d73-02",…
#> $period <int> 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1,… #>$ minutes            <int> 2, 2, 4, 4, 9, 9, 20, 20, 24, 24, 32, 32, 34…
#> $minutes_added <dbl> NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, … #>$ time               <dbl> 2, 2, 4, 4, 9, 9, 20, 20, 24, 24, 32, 32, 34…
#> $xg <dbl> 0.00, 0.04, 0.00, 0.17, 0.00, 0.02, 0.00, 0.… #>$ xgd                <dbl> -0.04, 0.04, -0.17, 0.17, -0.02, 0.02, -0.12…
#> $gamestate <fct> Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Ti… #>$ pre_shot_gamestate <fct> Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Tied, Ti…
#> $last_regular_min <int> NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, NA, … #>$ prev_period        <int> NA, NA, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, …
#> $prev_time <dbl> NA, NA, 2, 2, 4, 4, 9, 9, 20, 20, 24, 24, 32… #>$ duration           <dbl> 2, 2, 2, 2, 5, 5, 11, 11, 4, 4, 8, 8, 2, 2, …

## Data analysis

As the saying goes, “80% of data analysis/science is data cleaning”. Well, that rings true here, as all we need to do at this point is perform a few common {dplyr} and {tidyr} actions to arrive at xGD by game state. Oh, and we should contextualize game state xGD by how long a team has spent in each game state (duration).

Code
agg_gamestate_xgd <- gamestate_shots_and_durations |>
dplyr::group_by(team, pre_shot_gamestate) |>
dplyr::summarize(
dplyr::across(
c(
xgd,
duration
),
\(.x) sum(.x, na.rm = TRUE)
)
) |>
dplyr::ungroup() |>
dplyr::mutate(
xgd_p90 = xgd * 90 / duration
) |>
dplyr::group_by(team) |>
dplyr::mutate(
prop_duration = duration / sum(duration)
) |>
dplyr::ungroup() |>
dplyr::select(
team,
pre_shot_gamestate,
xgd_p90,
prop_duration
)
agg_gamestate_xgd
#> # A tibble: 87 × 4
#>    team           pre_shot_gamestate  xgd_p90 prop_duration
#>    <chr>          <fct>                 <dbl>         <dbl>
#>  1 Atlanta United Trailing            0.277           0.266
#>  2 Atlanta United Tied               -0.00208         0.385
#>  3 Atlanta United Leading             0.262           0.350
#>  4 Austin FC      Trailing            0.0287          0.271
#>  5 Austin FC      Tied               -0.0978          0.508
#>  6 Austin FC      Leading            -0.474           0.221
#>  7 CF Montréal    Trailing           -1.20            0.376
#>  8 CF Montréal    Tied               -0.388           0.400
#>  9 CF Montréal    Leading             0.327           0.223
#> 10 Charlotte FC   Trailing           -0.0656          0.212
#> # ℹ 77 more rows

We did all that work, so let’s make a pretty graph that conveys both:

1. the proportion of time spent in a given game state, and
2. the xGD per 90 per game state

for every team. Keep in mind that an xGD per 90 of +0.50 means that you’re accumulating half a goal’s worth of shot quality more than you’re giving up over the course of a game. While this number may seem small, that’s quite a good number over the course of an entire season.

Code
## logo scraping
library(httr)
library(jsonlite)

## plotting
library(ggplot2)
library(sysfonts)
library(showtext)
library(ggtext)
library(htmltools)
library(grid)
library(scales)

TAG_LABEL <- htmltools::tagList(
htmltools::tags$span(htmltools::HTML(enc2utf8('&#xf099;')), style = 'font-family:fb'), htmltools::tags$span('@TonyElHabr'),
)
CAPTION_LABEL <- '**Data**: Opta via fbref.'
SUBTITLE_LABEL <- 'MLS, 2023 Season'
PLOT_RESOLUTION <- 300
WHITISH_FOREGROUND_COLOR <- 'white'
COMPLEMENTARY_FOREGROUND_COLOR <- '#cbcbcb'
BLACKISH_BACKGROUND_COLOR <- '#1c1c1c'
COMPLEMENTARY_BACKGROUND_COLOR <- '#4d4d4d'
FONT <- 'Titillium Web'
showtext::showtext_auto()
showtext::showtext_opts(dpi = PLOT_RESOLUTION)

ggplot2::theme_set(ggplot2::theme_minimal())
ggplot2::theme_update(
text = ggplot2::element_text(family = FONT),
title = ggplot2::element_text(size = 20, color = WHITISH_FOREGROUND_COLOR),
plot.title = ggtext::element_markdown(face = 'bold', size = 20, color = WHITISH_FOREGROUND_COLOR),
plot.title.position = 'plot',
plot.subtitle = ggtext::element_markdown(size = 16, color = COMPLEMENTARY_FOREGROUND_COLOR),
axis.text = ggplot2::element_text(color = WHITISH_FOREGROUND_COLOR, size = 14),
axis.title.x = ggtext::element_markdown(size = 14, color = WHITISH_FOREGROUND_COLOR, face = 'bold', hjust = 0.99),
axis.title.y = ggtext::element_markdown(size = 14, color = WHITISH_FOREGROUND_COLOR, face = 'bold', hjust = 0.99),
axis.line = ggplot2::element_blank(),
strip.text = ggplot2::element_text(size = 14, color = WHITISH_FOREGROUND_COLOR, face = 'bold', hjust = 0),
legend.position = 'top',
legend.text = ggplot2::element_text(size = 12, color = WHITISH_FOREGROUND_COLOR, face = 'plain'),
legend.title = ggplot2::element_text(size = 12, color = WHITISH_FOREGROUND_COLOR, face = 'bold'),
panel.grid.major = ggplot2::element_line(color = COMPLEMENTARY_BACKGROUND_COLOR),
panel.grid.minor = ggplot2::element_line(color = COMPLEMENTARY_BACKGROUND_COLOR),
panel.grid.minor.x = ggplot2::element_blank(),
panel.grid.minor.y = ggplot2::element_blank(),
plot.margin = ggplot2::margin(10, 20, 10, 20),
plot.background = ggplot2::element_rect(fill = BLACKISH_BACKGROUND_COLOR, color = BLACKISH_BACKGROUND_COLOR),
plot.caption = ggtext::element_markdown(size = 10, color = WHITISH_FOREGROUND_COLOR, hjust = 0, face = 'plain'),
plot.caption.position = 'plot',
plot.tag = ggtext::element_markdown(size = 10, color = WHITISH_FOREGROUND_COLOR, hjust = 1),
plot.tag.position = c(0.99, 0.01),
panel.spacing.x = grid::unit(2, 'lines'),
panel.background = ggplot2::element_rect(fill = BLACKISH_BACKGROUND_COLOR, color = BLACKISH_BACKGROUND_COLOR)
)
ggplot2::update_geom_defaults('text', list(color = WHITISH_FOREGROUND_COLOR, size = 12 / .pt))

GAMESTATE_PAL <- c(
'Trailing' = '#ef3e36',
'Tied' = COMPLEMENTARY_FOREGROUND_COLOR,
)

## There is a way to get team logos from FBref, but they have a white background
##   by default, and making the background transparent for a plot with a dark
##   background is kind of a pain in the ass. So let's pull images from fotmob.
## This function is basically a minified version of what used to exist as
##   worldfootballR::fotmob_get_league_tables(). I rely on FBref and fotmob listing
##   teams in the same order alphabetically, which works fine for the MLS. A
##   better, scalable strategy for binding team names between sources is to
##   order teams by points / placement in the standings.

get_fotmob_standings <- function() {
url <- 'https://www.fotmob.com/api/leagues?id=130'
resp <- httr::GET(url)
cont <- httr::content(resp, as = 'text')
result <- jsonlite::fromJSON(cont)
table_init <- result$table$data
tables <- dplyr::bind_rows(table_init$tables) tables$table$all[[3]] |> dplyr::transmute( team = name, team_id = id, pts, logo_url = sprintf('https://images.fotmob.com/image_resources/logo/teamlogo/%s.png', team_id) ) } fotmob_standings <- get_fotmob_standings() team_logos <- agg_gamestate_xgd |> dplyr::distinct(team) |> dplyr::arrange(team) |> ## Lucky for us, MLS team names line up with the fotmob names alphabetically. dplyr::bind_cols( fotmob_standings |> dplyr::arrange(team) |> dplyr::select(path = logo_url, pts) ) agg_gamestate_xgd_with_logos <- agg_gamestate_xgd |> dplyr::inner_join( team_logos |> dplyr::select( team, pts, path ), by = dplyr::join_by(team) ) |> dplyr::mutate( label = glue::glue("<span style='font-size:12px;color:{WHITISH_FOREGROUND_COLOR}'>{team}</span> <span style='font-size:9px;color:{COMPLEMENTARY_FOREGROUND_COLOR}'>{pts} pts</span> <img src='{path}' width='14' height='14'/>") ) |> dplyr::select(-path) team_label_order <- agg_gamestate_xgd_with_logos |> dplyr::filter( pre_shot_gamestate == 'Leading' ) |> dplyr::arrange(prop_duration) |> dplyr::pull(team) prepped_agg_gamestate_xgd <- agg_gamestate_xgd_with_logos |> dplyr::mutate( dplyr::across( team, \(.x) factor(.x, levels = team_label_order) ) ) |> dplyr::arrange(team, desc(pre_shot_gamestate)) |> dplyr::group_by(team) |> dplyr::mutate( cumu_prop_duration = cumsum(prop_duration) ) |> dplyr::ungroup() |> dplyr::mutate( half_cumu_prop_duration = cumu_prop_duration - 0.5 * prop_duration ) xgd_p90_plot <- prepped_agg_gamestate_xgd |> ggplot2::ggplot() + ggplot2::aes( x = prop_duration, y = team ) + ggplot2::scale_y_discrete( name = '', labels = prepped_agg_gamestate_xgd |> dplyr::distinct(team, label) |> tibble::deframe() ) + ggplot2::theme( axis.text.y = ggtext::element_markdown(margin = grid::unit(c(0, 0, 0, 0), 'pt')), ) + ggplot2::geom_col( show.legend = FALSE, alpha = 0.8, ggplot2::aes( fill = pre_shot_gamestate ) ) + ggplot2::geom_text( family = FONT, size = 12 / ggplot2::.pt, fontface = 'bold', color = WHITISH_FOREGROUND_COLOR, data = dplyr::filter(prepped_agg_gamestate_xgd, xgd_p90 >= 0), ggplot2::aes( x = half_cumu_prop_duration, y = team, label = scales::number(xgd_p90, accuracy = 0.01, style_positive = 'plus') ) ) + ggplot2::geom_text( family = FONT, size = 12 / ggplot2::.pt, fontface = 'bold.italic', color = BLACKISH_BACKGROUND_COLOR, data = dplyr::filter(prepped_agg_gamestate_xgd, xgd_p90 < 0), ggplot2::aes( x = half_cumu_prop_duration, y = team, label = scales::number(xgd_p90, accuracy = 0.01) ) ) + ggplot2::scale_x_continuous( labels = scales::percent_format(accuracy = 1), expand = c(0.01, 0.01) ) + ggplot2::scale_fill_manual( values = GAMESTATE_PAL ) + ggplot2::theme( panel.grid.major.y = ggplot2::element_blank(), panel.grid.major.x = ggplot2::element_blank(), legend.position = 'top' ) + ggplot2::labs( title = glue::glue("xGD per 90 when <span style='color:{GAMESTATE_PAL[['Leading']]}'>Leading</span>, <span style='color:{GAMESTATE_PAL[['Tied']]}'>Tied</span>, and <span style='color:{GAMESTATE_PAL[['Trailing']]}'>Trailing</spna>"), subtitle = SUBTITLE_LABEL, y = NULL, tag = TAG_LABEL, caption = paste0(CAPTION_LABEL, '<br/>**xGD**: Expected goals for minus expected goals conceded'), x = '% of Match Time' ) xgd_p90_plot xgd_p90_plot_path <- file.path(PROJ_DIR, '2023-mls-xgd-p90.png') ggplot2::ggsave( xgd_p90_plot, filename = xgd_p90_plot_path, width = 8, height = 8 ) ## https://themockup.blog/posts/2019-01-09-add-a-logo-to-your-plot/ add_logo <- function( plot_path, logo_path, logo_scale = 0.1, idx_x = 0.01, ## right-hand side idx_y = 0.99, ## top of plot adjust_x = ifelse(idx_x < 0.5, TRUE, FALSE), adjust_y = ifelse(idx_y < 0.5, TRUE, FALSE) ) { plot <- magick::image_read(plot_path) logo_raw <- magick::image_read(logo_path) plot_height <- magick::image_info(plot)$height
plot_width <- magick::image_info(plot)$width logo <- magick::image_scale( logo_raw, as.character(round(plot_width * logo_scale)) ) info <- magick::image_info(logo) logo_width <- info$width
logo_height <- info$height x_pos <- plot_width - idx_x * plot_width y_pos <- plot_height - idx_y * plot_height if (isTRUE(adjust_x)) { x_pos <- x_pos - logo_width } if (isTRUE(adjust_y)) { y_pos <- y_pos - logo_height } offset <- paste0('+', x_pos, '+', y_pos) new_plot <- magick::image_composite(plot, logo, offset = offset) ext <- tools::file_ext(plot_path) rgx_ext <- sprintf('[.]%s$', ext)

magick::image_write(
new_plot,
plot_path
)
}

xgd_p90_plot_path,
logo_path = file.path(PROJ_DIR, 'mls-logo-black-and-white.png'),
logo_scale = 0.06
)

So, what can we learn from this perspective?

1. Columbus, who finished with the third most points, looks to be the most dominant team all-around. They have the most time spent leading (43%) and are one of only three teams with a positive xGD rate in every game state.
2. Cincinnati–the team that ended up with the most points in the regular season–is 11th in terms of time spent leading (30%). On the other hand, they do have the best xGD per 90 rate (+0.60) out of all teams in neutral (“Tied”) game states, which is the most common game state on average.
3. Orlando City, who finished with the second most points, has a relatively poor xGD rate in neutral game states (-0.21). This may be something to be concerned about it in the playoffs, where matches can be tighter.
4. Sporting KC has the fourth-most time spent leading (35%) and one of the better xGD rates when leading (+0.40), but ended up 8th in the Western Conference after accumulating just the 16th most points across all 29 teams. They could be a team to watch out for in the playoffs if they can get a lead early in their matches.
5. New York Red Bulls squeaked into the playoffs, but have a really strong xGD rate (+0.98) when tied. They may be a team to look out to overperform their seeding.
6. Los Anegeles FC, like Columbus, is one of the only teams to have a positive xGD in all game states. In fact, they have the strongest xGD in positive game states (+0.97). Evidently, they look to continue to attack once they get a lead.
7. St. Louis City, as analytics folks will tell you, has overperformed in its inaugural season. While they finished with the most points in the Western Conference, the underlying numbers–the negative xGD in all game states–suggest that they could be in for a rude awakening in the playoffs.

## Conclusion

As we’ve seen, calculating stats with respect to game state using data from the biggest public provider of soccer info is… not exactly straightforward. But the additional layers of insights that we can glean from contextualizing with game state can be rewarding.

## Footnotes

1. I like xGD because it captures a lot of information about how your team is playing relative to your opponent. Your team could be putting up a lot of shots, each with a decent amount of xG (i.e. “shot quality”), but if you’re conceding even more shots than you’ve taken and/or the quality of those shots are better than yours, then you’re really not performing all that well. This would be reflected with a negative xGD. Respected analysts like Michael Caley also seem to like using xGD for diagnosing performance.↩︎

2. All code is intentionally hidden by default in this post, but can easily be viewed via toggles. There’s a decent amount of it, and it can be distracting upon first read.↩︎

3. Keep in mind that the xG associated with a shot that is scored and changes the game state should be associated with the pre-shot game state, not the post-shot game state.↩︎