Why you should be up and down like a crazy man after the US-Ghana match

A friend of mine was complaining recently about the lack of decorum that US fans were showing after defeating Ghana on June 17.  His reasoning, logical as always, was “Hey, it’s a first round game and it isn’t as if we were playing anything more than a 3rd tier team.”  My esteemed colleague has managed to get the facts right and the argument wrong.  This was always so much more than just the first game of the first round.  This game was always going to determine the US team’s chances of success.

Standings After Round 1
Team Wins Losses Ties Points Goal Differential
Germany 1 0 0 3 4
USA 1 0 0 3 1
Ghana 0 1 0 0 -1
Portugal 0 1 0 0 -4

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Book Review – Soccernomics

ImageLike soccer? Chances are, you’ll dislike this book. Likewise, if you like statistics, you’ll dislike this book. Since Freakonomics and Moneyball, there has been a serious misuse of statistical analysis to prove a lot of things. As a person who works on strategy and research, I should know. I’m well aware of the dark arts.

It’s not that Kuper and Szymansky are bad writers. They’re not. It is a thoroughly engrossing book that keeps you reading. The problem is that it fails to understand what statistics can and cannot solve. For example, they use great regression techniques to show why certain nations are where they are in terms of world soccer rankings and success. They narrow down experience (how many internationals has the world played as a whole), resources available to the country, and population.

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