May 12, 2009

WPS - A Look at the Numbers

League Competitiveness

Call it competitiveness or call it parity, there is not a lot separating the best teams from the bottom teams in the WPS. Every team has now played at least a quarter of their schedule and there is only 6 points separating first place from last place. It's even closer when you consider that the league's top two teams, Los Angeles (11 pts) and Boston (10 pts), have played one more game than the league's lowest three teams, Saint Louis, Sky Blue, and Washington (5 pts each).

This competitiveness was never more evident than last week, when the two last place teams both picked up victories. Saint Louis pulled off a 1-0 victory over 4th place FC Gold Pride at home. Even more shocking was Sky Blue FC's 2-0 shutout of the Red Stars in Chicago. Going into the game, Chicago had allowed only one goal, while Sky Blue had scored only one goal. Chicago was coming off of a 4-0 thrashing of Boston. The fact that Sky Blue was able to not only score two goals, but also create several other chances was surprising.

Through 19 games, 13 of them have been decided by one goal or less. Only the Chicago/Boston game was decided by a margin of more than two goals.

Scoring First

As one might suspect, the team that has scored first has either won or tied every match through the games of May 10th. There have been no come from behind victories. Only two teams have come back from 2 goal deficits to catch up. FC Gold Pride was able to erase a 3-1 lead against Washington, only to lose the game on a Freedom goal in stoppage time. Washington scored two late goals against Saint Louis to gain a 3-3 tie two weekends ago.

There have been 15 clean sheets so far, six of which have come in 3 scoreless ties. This has been a little surprising given the number of gifted offensive players in the league. Part of this can probably be attributed to players getting used to playing together and getting their timing down on passing and scoring runs.

WPS Attendance

So far, 102,226 fans have attended WPS games, an average of 5,380. Los Angeles leads in attendance, largely on the strength of a huge crowd for the league's inaugural match. Averages by team:

Los Angeles (3 games)-9,054
Boston (2 games)-6,418
Washington (3 games)-4,803
Chicago (3 games)-4,535
Sky Blue FC (2 games)-4,403
Saint Louis (3 games)-4,365
FC Gold Pride (3 games)-4,104

WPS averaged 6,858 for their 7 home openers. Since then, there have been 12 games and the average for those games was 4,518, a 34% drop off from the openers.

The league has been unlucky with the weather as several of the games have been plagued by rainstorms and cold weather. Additionally, the Mother's Day holiday and high school proms probably hurt last week's attendance. The league has stated a target attendance of between 4,000 and 6,000.