Friday, August 06, 2010

CCL records by country, reprise

Yesterday our esteemed blogging colleague, Mr Duane Rollins of the 24th minute, tweeted the following tweet on twitter:
Joe Public wins tonight to advance 6-2 on aggregate over Brujas of Costa Rica (CR makes MLS results look good in #CCL)
These are the comments people make in order to underline a particular point. But this one struck me as odd: I know Costa Rica (or any other country other than Mexico) hasn't done well in CONCACAF Champions League. But the record of American teams has been pretty abject in this tournament.

Is it possible that Duane's one-off parenthetical had a seed of truth to it?

Luckily, back in March I prepared a table of the records of all countries in CONCACAF Champions League. With time on my hands, yesterday I updated it to reflect all CCL results to date, up to the end of this year's knock out round.

What do we find?

CONCACAF Champions League Record by Country
Mexico 58 18 21 208 89 192 1.98 2.14 0.92 1.23
Canada 6 5 3 18 13 23 1.64 1.29 0.93 0.36
Honduras 17 5 18 62 63 56 1.4 1.55 1.58 -0.02
Puerto Rico 7 7 6 27 29 28 1.4 1.35 1.45 -0.1
Panama 10 6 16 42 56 36 1.13 1.31 1.75 -0.44
Costa Rica 5 5 8 22 35 20 1.11 1.22 1.94 -0.72
USA 11 15 20 56 77 48 1.04 1.22 1.67 -0.46
Guatemala 5 5 10 23 42 20 1 1.15 2.1 -0.95
Trinidad 8 3 17 36 58 27 0.96 1.29 2.07 -0.79
El Salvador 4 7 9 18 36 19 0.95 0.9 1.8 -0.9

1 0 3 0 0 0 3 -3

2 0 12 0 0 0 6 -6

First, let's study Duane's claim. If we focus on results (wins/draws/losses) only, Costa Rica has USA beat, as their points per game (3 for a win, 1 for a draw) are a notch higher. The next best measure of quality, goal difference, has USA one rung ahead on the ladder.

Really, not enough evidence to make the claim that one is better than the other, and closer than I thought it would be.

Are there problems with this simplistic measuring of teams? Sure. Let me count the ways:
  • Small sample size!
  • Knockout round byes: Teams like Canada's entry, who play the knockout round every year, in theory have extra matches against easier teams.
  • Mexico vs Mexico: Mexican teams have frequently played each other, and are responsible for many of the losses Mexican teams have experienced. If I only counted Mexican teams vs non-Mexican, their dominance would be even more clear.
Still, this is the kind of data that, in future, should be used by CONCACAF to determine how spots are awarded and which representatives earn byes into later rounds, in the manner of UEFA's famed coefficients.

This, in short, is why I want Toronto to do well in this year's tournament. Canada's high placing in this table is almost entirely attributable to 10 mostly excellent results that Montreal produced during the tournament's inaugural edition two years ago. There is a reputation to uphold.



Jeremy said...

Hi J, I appreciate your work a lot (this table is awesome!), but I have a small question.

How do you create tables like that one in Blogger? I have been trying but without any results. IF you don't want to answer, it's fine.

J said...

I use a spreadsheet program (OpenOffice Calc, but Excel works as well) to create the tables, then copy and paste into a blog post. I have to edit the HTML a little bit to make it all work, but that's how I do it.

Jeremy said...

Thanks a lot.

Michael LeClair said...

I've been keeping tabs on the competition through a UEFA-like coefficient:

Anonymous said...

Further proof that the league is a mickeymouse league. It's pathetic.

J said...

Anon 8:04:

Which league is Mickey Mouse? MLS?

If you're referring to the CONCACAF Champs League, surely you're able to cut them some slack, as its a tournament in its 3rd year. If Mexican teams dominate each year, it's a credit to their league, not the sign that this is some crackpot tournament.

Here in Canada, we consider it to be worth our time, and I'm sure TFC will represent us well this year.

J said...


I like the coefficient. Isolating the CFU instead of individual countries does a better job of representing what actually occurs in the qualification process. I didn't read that thread in detail -- do you apply essentially the same formula as UEFA?

Headhunting Canuck said...

Hey J,

Are we going to do another Eredivisie pool this year. Yes I know this is out of place and all in this thread. But figured I would post it anyways. I'll even give away the prize this year. I forgot if we had one last year, but well I figure I could get a scarf and such.



J said...


I think I'll set it up soon. I know the season has started, but nobody knows much about the Eredivisie anyway. If I set the deadline for September 1st or Labour Day or something people will have the chance to make an informed decision.

There would have been a prize last year, but I ended up winning and wasn't in a mood to give a prize to myself.