July 2, 2009

The Curious Case of the 2nd Place Curse

Something strange and shocking is being sprung upon 2nd place in the WPS. No 2nd place team can avoid it. No one can explain it. It's the curious case of the 2nd place curse.

I had touched on this in an earlier blog post, but this so strange, I thought I would investigate it further. Second place is not where you want to be in the WPS, that is, unless it's at the end of the season.

Consider this. After spending most of April in 2nd place, the Chicago Red Stars went winless for the months of May and June. After taking over 2nd place on the first weekend in May, Boston went winless over five games. After Saint Louis took over 2nd place in mid-June, they lost their next two games. After defeating Saint Louis to take over 2nd place on June 20th, the Freedom lost two consecutive games. What's going on here?

Here are the results of every game played by a 2nd place team, leaving out the first week or two when everyone's record was 0-0.

April 11-Chicago (tied for 2nd with Gold Pride)-Tied Washington 1-1
April 11-FC Gold Pride (tied for 2nd with Chicago)-Tied Sky Blue 1-1
April 19-Chicago (tied for 2nd with Gold Pride)-Tied Sky Blue 0-0
April 19-FC Gold Pride (tied for 2nd with (Chicago)-Lost to Los Angeles 0-1
April 25-Boston-Lost to Chicago 0-4
May 2-Chicago had a bye week with Boston taking over 2nd place.
May 10-Boston-Tied Los Angeles 0-0
May 17-Boston-Tied Washington 1-1
May 31-Boston-Lost to Sky Blue 1-2
June 7-Washington-Lost to Los Angeles 1-3
June 13-Washington-Tied Chicago 0-0
June 20-Saint Louis-Lost to Washington 0-1
June 24-Washington-Lost to Boston 0-1

So all told, 2nd place teams have a composite record of 0 wins, 6 losses, and 6 ties. They have been outscored 15 to 5. Is the pressure of 2nd place that great or is the fact that Los Angeles is the team in front of them scaring those teams right out of 2nd place?

This week will be Boston's crack at it. They travel to Sky Blue where they lost their only previous meeting (not to mention 2nd place) by a score of 2-1. Both Washington and Saint Louis have the opportunity to leap frog Boston should they slip up. Will the Breakers be the team to stop the curse? In baseball, Boston defeated the curse of Babe Ruth. Of course, that took over 80 years.


Anonymous said...

I vote for a continuation of the 2nd place curse and a win for Sky Blue! Of course, I'm a SBFC fan...so....

Great observation!