Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sporting KC 2012 Schedule with Analysis, Stats

Hooray the MLS 2012 schedule is finally here so we can at least talk about something other than potential sponsors for the kit!  Check out the Sporting blog post on the schedule to get links to download a desktop background with the schedule, import the schedule into various phones, and other info.  With the schedule out I wanted to compile a list of observations by myself and others.

Here is the spreadsheet I have been working from if you want to take a look and see if you find any interesting items or trends.

Unbalanced Schedule
With 10 teams in the East and 9 in the west, MLS has gone with an unbalanced schedule.  Many have griped, but that doesn't change the fact that it exists so let's see how it may benefit or hinder Sporting.

Getting to play three tough Western conference opponents at Home is a big benefit.  It is also nice to have Houston and Chicago at home twice given the playoffs last year and the real/fake rivalry with Chicago.  Hopefully New England and Toronto will give us some high scoring affairs that will please the home crowd as well. Overall I am pretty pleased with how the unbalanced schedule played out in Sporting's favor.

Conflicts/Synergies with Major Events

March Madness - 3/17 Home Opener vs. New England - Same night as 3rd Round of NCAA Basketball Tournament.  Don;t really think it will be too big of a deal since it is opening night, which would be expected to be a sell out regardless of other events.  3/25 at home also is the same night as the Elite Eight, so if local teams like KU, K-State or Mizzou are playing might put a small dent in attendance.  But no SKC games conflict with any game nights in the Final Four.

NASCAR - No Sporting games are during NASCAR weekends (April 22, October 21) although part of me thinks there might be an interesting synergy if they timed it right to get some of the 80,000+ people going to the races a package deal on tickets to a soccer game across the street.  I just hope we see a Sporting KC die cast NASCAR in the stores this year.

MLB All-Star Week in Kansas City - 7/7 vs Houston - I actually think this might work well for Sporting.  A lot of visitors in town might pick this as a non-baseball sporting event to go to if they are in town for the week.  In fact I think that would be a god way to market it to Houston fans, if only their poor Astros were good enough to have some All-Stars to watch during the baseball game 7/10.

Chiefs games: No fall dates are on the same day as a Chiefs game away or home. No back to back Chiefs/Sporting games this year.

Friday Night HS Football: While this conflict is not too large when you consider one HS game might attract people just identifying with their local high school, if you multiply this across the whole metro it can become a big hit on attendance.  Hopefully it won't ding SKC too much but maybe aim for any Friday night games earlier in the year next time.  (H/T @atlashill)


Olympics - The Olympic soccer tournament in London goes from July 25th to August 11th.  That covers 3 games for Sporting: 7/28 vs Columbus, 8/4 at New England, and 8/11 vs. DCU.   The Gold Medal match will be played on 8/11 at 3pm London time, meaning we can watch the US and Teal Bunbury win the Gold medal at 9am before the DC game. (Note: the US has not even qualified yet for the Olympics, but you can watch them do that at Livestrong Park though in March and April!)

FIFA/CONCACAF Dates - the MLS stretched the season to avoid these important dates when your best players may be called up to their national teams.  A few teams mutually agreed to move games to these dates but Sporting was not one of them.

St. Patrick's Day - 3/17 vs New England - You can bet they will play up the Irish theme with this one against Boston's lost team.  I really hope they don't wear green uniforms though.  That just smacks of minor league baseball and we have already been there.

Cinco de Mayo - 5/5 vs Montreal - Not really the Spanish side you might be expecting but hey it is the return of Davy Arnaud to LSP so that is a reason to celebrate right?  And playing an expansion team, might be just the thing the fans need to give us even more reason to have a good time.

Memorial Day Weekend - Sunday 5/27 vs San Jose - Nothing special here, but maybe with the long weekend more people might come out and tailgate before and after the early start game (3:30pm).  Maybe an excuse to have a Parking lot BBQ competition?

Fourth of July - 7/4 at Montreal - yes the team will be away so no fireworks, but that gives you a chance to have a good Sporting KC themed party at your house.  Invite people over to watch the early game (6:30p) and then light your fireworks (safely people!)

Labor Day Weekend - Saturday 9/1 vs. Toronto - Early in the holiday weekend. Again maybe a BBQ competition and long tailgate? Maybe Toronto will remember to bring their team player images this year.

Travel Opportunities
As many people have pointed out on Twitter two pairs of road games are only 3 days apart and within car/bus/train distance of each other that you could make a little Sporting vacation out of it: 4/18, 4/21 Vancouver, Portland AND 9/19,9/22 New York, Montreal. Apparently the Cauldron has made claims on at least one of them as THE road trip of the year.  Also don't overlook the chance to check out Houston's new soccer specific stadium on Wed 7/18.  The kids will be out of school so take two days off and make it a road trip.

Some other interesting stats/observations:

Full sched- Mean and Median length between games is 6.91 and 7. Min is 3, Max is 20.
Home games - Mean and Median length between games is 14.81 and 14.5,  Min is 7, Max is 27.
Away games - Mean and Median length between games is 13.97 and 13.5,  Min is 3, Max is 32.

Sporting KC ends the season on 10/24 at home.  The rest of the MLS including Philly have to play on either the 28th or 29th setting us up for a little extra rest time prior to the playoffs. Nice.

Sporting will be on seven nationally televised broadcasts and all of these amazingly are at Livestrong!  So let's make that crowd look good Kansas City.  4 are on NBC Sports, 2 on ESPN2, and one on Galavision. in 2011, 11 was on ESPN2, 3 on Fox Sports, and 1 on Galavision.  An improvement but sadly only places Sporting 12th out of 19 teams for national television appearances.  Of course NY and LA lead with 21 and 20 respectively.  Who am I surprised to see get more screen time: Chivas (12), Dallas (12) DC (12), Chicago (14).  Why would anyone want to watch Chicago or New York, they both tied 16 games apiece in 2011?!

Also check out this very detailed post from Sounder at Heart showing Strength of Schedule and Distance traveled. (H/T @AndyEdSKC). Sporting has the 3rd easiest schedule based on Opponent PPG, and 8th easiest travel schedule (by miles traveled)

Check out these other Sporting bloggers who have their own thoughts on the schedule:
Down the Byline
The Daily Wiz
The Full 90
Sporting KC Reports
Footy Chronicles 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

So you want to be a soccer blogger?

If you have been following Sporting Kansas City at all in 2011, you probably have stumbled across a few blogs dedicated to our boys in blue.  Maybe you have found more than just a few but a plethora of blogs. It can be a lot to follow and doesn't even begin to account for SKC talk on other platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Big Soccer.  When looking at other teams we are in the top echelon of fan based blogs.

Some have complained online we actually might have too many blogs, or that the blogs do not do enough to stand out.  Personally I think it is fantastic to have many blogs to choose from, and over the next few weeks as we start through the pre-season I will be giving reviews of the various blogs covering SKC.  If you want to see a list of all the current SKC blogs, check our News Sources post (currently 25 sources). 

But before I begin reviews of the blogs, I thought I would offer some advice to anyone thinking of starting a blog for SKC.  (And just so you know I am speaking from experience, I have been blogging for 6 years on various subjects and seen many different blogs come and go, and have reported on other blogging communities, don't just think it is the 4 months I have been blogging for Ad Astra.)

First of all, yes you can do it, but it does take dedication if you are going to be successful.  Don't let anyone scare you off from contributing just because 'the pool is full.'  There is always room for more insight and opinion.  And we do not all have the same audience.  If you don't believe me check out TweepDiff for an example of how two key blogs have only half of their Twitter followers in common.

Second, come up with goals, a strategy and a basic schedule.  Blogging takes time and if you are going to be successful, it is good to start with some structure.  You will probably hear bloggers say they never did any of that and they are still here.  True but for every successful blog there are hundreds of dead blogs because of a  lack of a little bit of planning and research.  Find subjects and opinions that are not yet being heard in this community or add a new twist to information that is already out there.

Third, partner with someone.  You do not need to be alone in your endeavor, in f act you will increase the value to readers if you have multiple bloggers because you get five things:
1) Consistency: Good partners will keep the flow of information consistent and not dated
2) Unique voices: Partners add something different.  You will each have a different approach and possibly feature different types of posts to contribute.
3) Established commentary: A good partner will post comments to your posts and vice versa.  Someone posting a single comment increases the likelihood that someone else will comment.  And if your partners get into a heated discussion in the comments section it is more likely others will jump in.
4) Promotion: More people promoting their blogs to their family, friends and the SKC fan base.
5) Immortality: Well that may be a bit of a reach, but having partners does allow for succession if any one person decide to bow out.  Your words will live on without you at the blog's helm.
Four, learn the importance of networking.  Work with other bloggers and key voices in and outside of the organization and you will find good opportunities.  You may be ignored or dismissed until you have a bit more of a track record, but keep looking you will find a group that welcomes and supports you.  A well developed network will help you with getting feedback (as comments and behind the scenes) as well as helping with promotion.

Hopefully this helps give you some guidance.  The more we can foster this small but vibrant community the better it is for our team and for all of us bloggers!

Here are blogs open to possibly having more bloggers (let me know if I missed any):
Ad Astra SKC -
South Stand SC -
The Daily Wiz -info -

Please feel free to ask questions about blogging here.  Simple or complex, I would be glad to help.