Will it work for the World Cup?

soccerby Shine 2010 – 2010 World Cup good

Researchers Use Science to Identify Soccer Stars
[Via NSF News]

Until now, rating the world’s best soccer players was often based on a fan’s personal sense of the game. But researchers at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., recently developed a computer program that, for the first time, measures player success based on objective assessments of performance instead of opinion.

Luis Amaral, an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern, says that while basketball and baseball offer a wealth of statistical data to gauge the performance of individual players–such as runs batted in, strikeouts, steals and rebounds–this isn’t the case with soccer.

So he and a team of researchers used their computational skills to write software that pulled play-by-play statistical information from the 2008 Euro Cup website.


Now, the report does not really tell us something soccer fans do not already know – the team that passes the best, that gets everyone involved and who makes the most shots – is probably the best. But this helps quantify everything and actually provides information about specific players that might not se as obvious to even seasoned fans.

I hope they do something similar for the World Cup. Maybe we could get statshounds involved in MLS games now.