Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pareja versus Smith

Not surprisingly its been popular with our inconsistent start of the season to question if the coaching change was the right move.  I supported the move at the time and I continue to support it now.  Apparently I'm not alone as the Burgundy Wave blog has a great Hero Worship article about the flawed comparisons between Gary Smith and Oscar Pareja.

I really can't disagree with the article, but I can throw out some facts to show why I think some posters (particularly on the Rapids Facebook page) are being unfairly harsh when judging this season so far, especially in comparison to prior seasons.

First, let's start with our horrible injury issues this season.  A number of Gary Smith supporters think that the MLS Cup lineup is still our best lineup and the changes that have been made away from that have been a mistake.  So using that as a baseline, I counted the number of games lost due to injury by the starters in MLS Cup 2010 in the first 15 games of 2011 and 2012 .  I considered any game where the player was on the injury report and didn't play more than 15 minutes a game lost to injury.  In 2011 I also counted the game Omar Cummings missed due to his Nats team callup.

2011: 25 games lost to injury, 1.66 starters per game.
2012: 65 games lost to injury, 4.33 starters per game

Least number of starters missing:
2011: 0 (Games 1 & 3)
2012: 2 (Game 15)

Most number of starters missing:
2011: 3 (Games 9 & 12)
2012: 7 (Game 13)

So Pareja has been dealing with 2.5 times as many injuries as Smith did at this point last year.  Until last week's game against San Jose Papi's healthiest lineup was as healthy as Smith's most injured lineup.

According to a number of ranking systems the Rapids have played one of the toughest schedules so far this season.  ELO+ has the Rapids with the 2nd toughest schedule behind Houston, while Jeff Sagarin has them with the 3rd toughest schedule behind Houston and San Jose (by .01).

Since MLS dropped the Shootout after 1999 the Rapids have averaged exactly 19 points through 15 games through 2011.  Last year under Smith (actually all 3 years he was in charge) the Rapids had 22 points, the last three of which were gained when the Rapids scored an last minute goal in Portland that should have been ruled offside and the Rapids should have only gotten 1 point for a draw.

Right now the Rapids have 19 points, losing out on a point in the last game when the ref probably incorrectly gave San Jose a penalty kick for a last minute goal.  If the last minute calls in game 15 each of the last two years were made correctly then the Rapids would have had 20 points after 15 games in 2011 and 2012, pretty much dead on their average since 2000.

So with one of the toughest schedules in the league and an injury list 2.5 times worse than Smith had last year, Pareja has managed to lead the team to pretty much the same place Smith led the team after 15 games last year.  This while being a first-year coach trying to institute a new style of play and integrate a number of new players.  Call me crazy but I have a hard time understanding why people are calling for Pareja's job.  To me it seems like he's achieving essentially what Smith was able to achieve while dealing with greater challenges.


Anonymous said...

I think it is way too early to judge op as manager, however; maligning the only manager to win the clubs only trophy is hardly the answer. The use of statistics is incredibly poor and provide no insight. You obviously follow the Pids closely but with rose colored glasses.

Jason Maxwell said...

And yet you add nothing in response. At no point did I malign Smith (unless calling for a coaching change is maligning him). The stats provide the insight that Pareja has been missing significant time from his major players while facing one of the toughest schedules in the league. I don't see how that's not insight.

Anonymous said...

Your post adds nothing either, if you can look at this team/organization in a positive light than please share what drug you are on.

Anonymous said...

Also, bringing up the San Jose match is incredibly inappropriate, we had no business even having a lead to blow.

Jason Maxwell said...

I wouldn't say positive so much as not nearly as negative as many people. And I'll bring up whatever game I want. Teams win games they were dominated in and they lose games they were dominate in.

Anonymous said...

This is true, in fact I don't think we are disagreeing, we just view how full the glass is or in my case how brocken the glass is. This club overachieved when it won the cup and has returned to its historical realm of mediocrity.

Jason Maxwell said...

I think we do agree. My ultimate point is that its the people who look back at that amazing Cup run and somehow translate that into us having amazing success for 3 years under Smith that are wearing burgundy-colored glasses. This is, essentially, the same team we've had for 12 seasons. The only thing that was different in 2010 is that we got hot at the right time and rode a winning streak through the last few regular season games and 4 playoff games.

Nick Thomas said...

Jason, the successful team of 2010 has been gutted and will continue to be gutted. Yes, Gary Smith had a bit of luck but he built a team founded on cohesion and belief. This team has no cohesion, nobody knows what they are supposed to be doing, the manager and coaching staff tolerates no questioning of their methods and Pareja has too much pride to see that some of his chocies aren't working but will do little to address that other than getting rid of people from Gary's era. I'm all for change when it's necessary but this is too much too soon and thsi team is goung nowhere fast. The only players that can really save them are Conor and Omar if they can stay healthy and score a bagful of goals. Otherwise, they will get nowhere near the playoffs let alone make a run in them.

Jason Maxwell said...

I've never rules out the possibility of the team crashing and burning (hell, my pre-season prediction was that we'd miss the playoffs). I'm just saying that so far there's no clear evidence that Pareja has been worse than Smith.