NWSL – Houston Dash 2016 Year in Review – A Tale of Two Halves

For the 2016 Houston Dash season, it was a Tale of Two Halves. The first half can be summarized as the Opponent 1 – Houston Dash 0 story. The second half can be called Kealia Ohai Has Awakened.

The 2016 Houston Dash season was puzzling. Even though Carli Lloyd was injured on the second game of the year and missed several months, it did not explain the team’s lack of scoring. After all, they still have various players like Kealia Ohai, Janine Beckie, Morgan Brian, Andressa Machry, Rachel Daly, Denise O’Sullivan, Chioma Ubogagu, Amber Brooks, and others that are capable of scoring goals.

So, here is a statistical look at the two halves of the season to see if we can draw any logical conclusions. As a warning, this is a long  boring analysis. But here goes:

For the first 10 games, Houston’s statistics are this:
  • 0.60 goals average,
  • Shots on Goal average = 4.60,
  • Shots per games average = 10.80,
  • shooting percentage = 13%,
  • TSR (Total Shot Ratio) = 0.48,
  • save percentage = 78%,
  •  and “PDO” = 0.890.
Houston’s opponents for the same first 10 games:
  • 1.10 goals scored per game,
  • 5.00 shots on goal average,
  • 11.60 shots per game average,
  • shooting percentage is 22%,
  • TSR = 0.52,
  • save percentage = 87%,
  • and PDO = 1.110.
Okay, let’s look at these statistics individually:
  • Obviously, Houston was not scoring many goals as shown by the bizarre streak of losing 6 games in a row 1 to 0. Here they have 0.60 goals average compared to 1.10 goals for the opponents. It’s hard to win games when your opponent is twice as likely to score as you.
  • Their shots on goal (4.60) was similar to their opponents (at 5.00).
  • The same is true for overall shots per game at 10.80 vs. 11.60.
  • Shooting percentage is defined as Goals Scored divided by Shots on Goal. So, here their opponents were twice as good at scoring as Houston had only 13% vs 22%. This follows the above trend above with Goals Scored per game (2 to 1 roughly).
  • Total Shots Ratio¹ (TSR) is basically overall shots per game compared to both sides. Basically, “neutral” is 0.500, meaning that you and your opponents shoot equally. Therefore, the higher the number, the more you are shooting compared to your opponents. But here, 0.48 for Houston and 0.52 for their opponents imply “equality” and no real difference.
  • Save percentage was 78% compared to 87%. Slight difference here, but is it significant?
  • PDO is named after Brian King’s on-line handle² for this statistic. It is defined as Shooting Percent plus Save Percentage. It can be set to 1000, 100 or 1. Here I will set to 1. Basically, 1 means everything is “normal”. A higher number such as 1.200 could imply that the team is “lucky”, and a lower number such as 0.900 can imply a team is “unlucky”. Houston had a PDO of 0.890, while their opponents had a 1.110. So, perhaps Houston was a little “unlucky” these first 10 games?

 

Then in the second half, it looked like someone shot Kealia Ohai out of a cannon. Now the team has much different statistics for the second half of the season. Let’s take a look at these:

For Houston’s second half statistics, they now have the following:
  • 2.30 goals per game average,
  • 6.60 shots on goal average,
  • 15.40 shots per game,
  • a Shooting percentage of 35%,
  • the TSR is now at 0.56,
  • the save percentage is 67%,
  • and the PDO is 0.970.
Meanwhile, their opponents had these statistics:
  • 1.80 goals per game,
  • 5.50 shots on goal average,
  • 12.00 shots average,
  • a 33% shooting percentage,
  • a TSR of 0.44,
  • a 65% save percentage,
  • and finally a PDO 1.030.
So, here are the second half statistics per item:
  • Houston outscored their opponents 2.30 to 1.80. This is a big improvement from 0.60 goals (and a lot of zeroes before).
  • The shots on goal went up by 2 per game from 4.60 to 6.60. They are getting more shots on target. Meanwhile, their opponents are roughly the same at 5.50, just up from 5.00, but not a large difference.
  • Total shots per game went up to 15.40 from 10.80. That is nearly 5 more shots per game! Their opponents were the same as before at 12.00 shots, just up about a half a shot per game.
  • Houston’s shooting percentage nearly tripled to 35% from 13%. But also, their opponents went up to 33% from 22%. So, they are about equal to their opponents as far as scoring efficiency.
  • Houston’s TSR is now 0.56, which dropped their opponents to 0.44. This confirms that they are now shooting more than their opponents. The more you shoot, the more likely you will score. It is as easy as that.
  • Houston’s save percentage dropped to 67%. This number is a little disturbing as it means that they are allowing more goals. But however, their opponents save percentage also fell to 65%. So, in a sense, they are roughly equal here as far as goalkeeping statistics.
  • Now, for PDO, the measure of “luck”. Houston’s PDO became 0.970, where their opponents became a 1.030. With both numbers practically 1.000, there is simply “no luck” involved. Each team is doing what the statistics suggest that they are scoring and defending rather equally.

But wait, there are more statistics! What about Kealia Ohai herself? How does she fit in the statistics herself?

  • In the first 10 games, she had zero goals, 1 assist, 4 shots on goal, and 9 shots total. This equates to zero shooting percent. But she only had 4 shots on target (goal) in 10 games.
  • We can also look at the percentage of shots on goal to total shots ratio. For Ohai, it is 44.44%. For Houston during this time, it was 42.59%. And the Opponents’ ratio was 43.10%. It appears that Ohai, Houston, and the Opponents all had a similar shot on goal to total shot ratio.
  • In the last 10 games, she had 11 goals, 3 assists, 27 shots on goal, and 40 shots total.
  • What about Ohai’s shooting efficiency? She had an impressive 40.74% scoring efficiency compared to her team at the time with 34.85%, and their opponents at 32.73%
  • And the shots on goal to total shots ratio during the last 10 games. Houston had a 42.86%, which is about the same as the first half. The opponents had 45.83%, which is up slightly. And Ohai had an astonishing 67.50% of shots that threatened to score. Assuming 40 to 45% is normal for all teams, it basically means that Ohai somehow became one of the most “dangerous” scorers in the league.

So, what happened? Why did the Houston Dash “awaken” around game 11, particularly Kealia Ohai, who would score 11 goals over the course of the final 10 games?

This is where I do not have an answer, since I have no idea of the team dynamics. Was there tension in the lockerroom until game 10? Did coach Randy Waldrum “confuse” his players, and then after the 10th game, they finally “figured out” his system?  Was Ohai hiding an injury that made her less effective? Carli Lloyd is not the answer to these questions as she finally returned to the team with about 5 games remaining.

By then, the team and especially Ohai had found its groove, and LLoyd had  become another weapon in their arsenal. But one thing is obvious, Ohai began to shoot more, by an average of 4 shots per game. This increased the team average shots on goal by 2 goals per game.,And with one-third of goals on target actually scoring, and also maintaining their defense, then Houston was able to win more games in the second half of the season.

If the Houston Dash maintain their personnel and scoring attitude next year, this team will seriously be a contender for the playoffs. And if Ohai maintains her scoring prowess, she could be the leagues’s 2017 Most Valuable Player.

Here are the 2016 season summary statistics:

20 Games Played- 6 Wins- 10 Losses- 4 Ties.
29 Goals Scored- 29 Goals Against- 0 Goals Differential

 

Note 1. Information about Total Shots Ratio (TSR) and other statistics can be found on Statsbomb.com (Glossary page).
Note 2. Information about PDO can be found in Wikipedia article on “Analytics (Ice Hockey)”.

 

The first video is a typical 1-0 loss described above.

The second game is where Ohai scores 2 goals.

The third video is “is this what we can expect next year?”

Other 2016 NWSL season reviews:

MLS Multiplex will have all your offseason reviews and news for the Houston Dash and NWSL as we look to help grow the women’s game in the United States.