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Dirty Boot Award El Luchador and his comrade, El Chupacabra, continue to pore over MLS statistics at our Advanced

Institute for Luchametric Studies. The goal is to assist those who chose to wager on MLS soccer matches--in those jurisdictions where such activity is legal – to make better-informed bets. Our latest finding may not have as much practical effect as other stats in terms of wagering, but nonetheless, we offer it because it confirms something many of us suspected, and because when taken in total with other knowledge and statistics, could form the basis of informed wagers. Which team in MLS can fairly be given the title of Major League Soccer’s Biggest Bunch of Hacks? (Drum Roll) The dirty thugs of Real Salt Lake! As the table below details, Salt Lake has consistently racked up the greatest number of Infraction Points (a measure of both yellow cards and red cards [IP=YC +(2*RC)]) over the last two and half seasons. Chivas is a close second. Note the big drop off in the total number of cards issued in the league in 2008 as compared to 2007. One wonders what happened. Better officiating? Better players? More ladies on the team buses before and after games? Who knows? The table below represents complete data from 2007 and 2008 along with the projected total number of IPs each team will generate by the end of 2009 based on a 30 game season.
2009 Projected 76 79 77 58 68 62 60 47 58 66 68 58 52 73

Club Salt Lake Chivas USA Kansas City Dallas New York Chicago D.C. Toronto Colorado Columbus Los Angeles New England Houston San Jose

2007 169 131.00 144 146 98.00 110 103 130 112 79 72 76 83 0

2008 65 84 57 70 76 69 78 62 54 67 59 64 63 64

Three Year Total 310 294 278 274 242 241 241 239 224 212 199 198 198 137

Do Reds and Yellows lead to more goals against or fewer Points in the standings? In other words, do the teams who commit the greatest number of heinous fouls suffer

as a result? Sadly, a preliminary analysis suggests they don’t. The average number of IPs in 2008 was 67. And as the chart below indicates, although the teams with the most points in 2008 were right around the average, having either more IPs or fewer IPs than the league average didn’t affect the number of PTS earned by aclub overall. In short, there is no correlation between the number of cards your team does or does not earn, and the number of PTS your team does or does not earn.

Interestingly, this was NOT the case in 2007, when there was a slight correlation between IPs and PTS. As the chart below indicates, in 2007, the more cards your team earned, the fewer pts they were likely to earn by season’s end. But again, even in 2007, teams with a substantial number of IPs above the league average were able to generate as many pts as several teams which had substantially fewer IPs than the league average. Bottom line: they may make the beautiful game ugly, but teams like Salt Lake and Chivas have little incentiveto alter their style of play. So hack away you dirty thugs! But remember the wisdom of Kahn: revenge is a dish best served cold.

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