"Adage Goal" - 11th Heaven

In all of my game recaps, I keep track of the "Adage Goal" for the Indy Eleven. This originated from the 11th Heaven site that was maintained and written by Doug Starnes. In the first season of the Indy Eleven, it was the best grassroots site for tactical evaluations and discussions. It could be argued that despite shuttering the site in 2015 (I think it was that year), it is still the best grassroots site for Indy Eleven discussions. Regardless, the adage goal stat that I began tracking came from a post that Doug did in May 2014, where he discussed the old "adage" of teams scoring in the first and last 5 minutes of a half or within 5 minutes of a goal being scored. Doug referenced a book that found the adage to "largely be a myth," but it was an adage that the first Indy Eleven team routinely found themselves falling into during the early stages of the club's history. It happened so frequently that I decided to list it on my site with each game recap. 

Since Doug has stopped writing and his site is no longer available, I requested permission from him to place that post as a page on my site after I manage to find it again as it was archived on the Wayback Machine. So for future reference, here is Doug's discussion of the "adage" goal, what that means, and why I keep track of it on my site for Indy Eleven games.

Thanks Doug for the permission to include it here.
- Drew

Keys to the Game: Ottawa Fury FC

Photo courtesy Indy Eleven

With the announcement this week that Indy Eleven will host the Dayton Dutch Lions in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on May 28th, a match that comes sandwiched between a trip to NY Cosmos and a home fixture against San Antonio Scorpions, tomorrow’s showdown with Ottawa Fury FC takes on new importance as the club will be desperate to break their NASL duck before navigating three matches in two competitions in only eight days. Doug Starnes takes a look at what needs to happen tomorrow for Juergen Sommer’s boys to start climbing up the table.
No Switching Off – There’s this adage in soccer that teams are most vulnerable at the beginning and end of matches, a just either side of halftime, and just after a goal has been scored. In their book The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Soccer Is Wrong, Chris Anderson and David Sally prove that across soccer this adage is largely a myth. When analyzed on the macro level – all goals and all teams in all competitions across many season – there’s no statistically significant data to suggest that teams are more or less vulnerable in these traditionally “dangerous” points in a match.
However, when talking analytics, you’re talking about huge data sets – all goals and all teams in all competitions across many seasons. We’re talking about one team in one competition in just five matches, and in those five matches, the Eleven have been poster boys for the adage. In every match thus far, all but one of the goals Indy Eleven has conceded fell into one of the three categories in the adage – beginning or end of the match, just either side of halftime, or right after a goal has been scored. For consistency’s sake, we’ll use five minutes as the universal window across the adage. Consider the evidence:
Versus Carolina – 1 goal allowed; 50th minute (five minutes after the start of the second half)
Versus Tampa Bay – 1 goal allowed; 48th minute (three minutes after the start of the second half)
Versus Ft. Lauderdale – 3 goals allowed; 7th, 69th, and 73 minutes (final two goals five minutes apart)
Versus Minnesota United – 3 goals allowed; 23rd, 25th, and 45th minutes (first two goals two minutes apart, final goal late in first half stoppage time)
Versus FC Edmonton – 2 goals allowed; 24th and 26th minutes (goals two minutes apart)
The lone goal allowed that doesn’t fit into one of the adage categories? The first goal scored by Ft. Lauderdale, but that came in the 7th minute. Hardly a statistical outlier.
Even though Indy Eleven is a team with a healthy population of veteran professionals, it’s important to remember that the team is very, very young. This isn’t the old head of Kristian Nicht, but the group think of a five-game-old club pushing for a win in what has so far been a frustrating and difficult campaign. The sort of group naïvety that leads to allowing “adage goals” is one of the hallmarks of a young team and requires veteran leadership to set the example and demand focus, even if those demands require some strong language.
Regardless of what happens in the Ottawa Fury FC match, whether the Eleven score or concede first, and for the full ninety minutes, the side must work on maintaining focus. Mistakes as well as successes must be learned from and then forgotten. No switching off.
Finish – If I’m Juergen Sommer, and my hairline and physique tell me I’m not, I’ve been working confidence building finishing drills into every training session this week – not a lot of defensive pressure, fast-paced, lots of balls in the back of the net.
From the first match of the season, the Eleven have had myriad chances that were either cruelly sent off the woodwork or scuffed at the critical moment. Those sorts of missed opportunities weigh on individual players and a team and their cumulative effect is to undermine the instinctual finishing of attacking players in good, confident form.
The quality in attack, whether through Ambersley, Mendes, Kléberson, Spencer, Ramirez, or Mares is there, it just has to find confidence. An early, well-taken goal would do wonders for the Eleven and a goal-scoring deluge could follow.
Embrace The Pressure – There’s nothing fun about losing matches. As an expansion side enjoying sellout home crowds and with ambitions of building a soccer specific stadium, the pressure to win must be tremendous – arguably more so than maybe any other team in the league – but that pressure can be stifling and lead to the kind of tense, forced play that all but guarantees negative results.
That pressure isn’t going anywhere, but rather than feeling encumbered by the challenge, the Eleven are in a unique position as a new NASL franchise to welcome it as an ally. Most professional players will never get the opportunity to play for a franchise in its first ever season in front of sellout crowds in a city that has been starved of professional soccer. This is unique and rare. Enjoy the moment, be present, and the wins will come.

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