Thursday, June 21, 2018
Sports

Are MLS games only fit to be tied? Let's look

Five of 10 MLS matches last weekend ended in a deadlock, which isn't so bad when you consider four featured at least four goals, there was a stoppage-time equalizer and three other tying strikes came in the last 15 minutes, including Landon Donovan's first since returning from retirement.

Draws, however, have come at much greater frequency this season than last year and at the highest rate since 2011.

Entering the final stretch of the regular season, 96 of 292 matches — or 32.9 percent — have split points. In 2015, the figure was 21.2 percent.

The high mark in recent years was 2011: 34.7 percent. The subsequent three seasons were 23.8, 25.4 and 27.6.

This year, nine of the 10 Eastern Conference clubs have recorded more draws than either victories or defeats (or both). The exception is the Philadelphia Union (11-11-8). This Saturday's match at RFK Stadium features D.C. United and Orlando City with identical records: 7-9-13.

In the spring, Montreal was stuck in a four-game tie streak. Eight other teams around the league have, at some point, drawn three consecutive matches. Just four Western teams have compiled a lopsided number of draws, though the Los Angeles Galaxy leads the league with 15 in 30 matches.

Last year, only the Colorado Rapids hit double digits in draws (10). This year, eight have already hit that mark and four others are on the brink.

The record for ties in a season was set by the Chicago Fire in 2014 with 18.

Conforming to the rest of the world, MLS has not used shootouts or extra time in the regular season since 2003 — and it has no plans to revert to a renegade system.

Draws are part of soccer. Fans are sophisticated enough to understand the value of gaining a point on the road and the disappointment of dropping points at home. And while ties remain unsatisfying to some, they do not necessarily lack drama.

In all, 20 MLS draws this season have been scoreless. Thirty-four ties, though, have involved four or more combined goals.

How does MLS stack up to the rest of the world? Last season, among the top five circuits in Europe, England's Premier League finished with draws in 28.2 percent of the 380 matches. Germany's Bundesliga was at 23.2, Spain's La Liga 24.2, Italy's Serie A 25.0 and France's Ligue 1 with a high of 28.4.

There is no one explanation for the rash of draws in MLS this year. Parity does play a part. While other leagues allow clubs to spend and acquire players without many restrictions, MLS narrows the gap with a salary cap, drafts and other centralized mechanisms.

MLS has always been a balanced operation, so the recent uptick in ties is probably nothing more than, ahem, a random draw.

Comments
Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

HOUSTON — The Rays saw a lot on the weeklong trip that ended with Wednesday's game against that Astros, beyond the street hustlers prowling in Times Square and the urban cowboys and girls parading through H-town.There was an impressive debuting...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox Sr. was watching the NFL draft 24 years ago when the phone rang. Buffalo coach Marv Levy was on the other line."Marv said they were taking me," said Knox Sr., a standout receiver at FSU.Soon after, Knox Sr. saw his name scroll across ESPN'...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Victor Hedman, a relentless part of the Lightning's push to the Eastern Conference final last season, was honored Wednesday night with the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman."To the Lightning organization, Mr. Jeff Vinik, Steve Yzerman ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

RHP Nathan Eovaldi said before his rough start Wednesday against the Astros that he was pitching better than his numbers showed. Well … In four starts since his six no-hit innings debut, he's 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing eight homers, four Wed...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Sports on TV/radio for Thursday, June 21

TODAYBaseballRed Sox at Twins1 p.m.MLBMets at Rockies (in progress)4 p.m.MLBCubs at Reds7 p.m.MLBBlue Jays at Angels10 p.m.MLBCollege baseball, World SeriesFlorida vs. Texas Tech8 p.m.ESPNUGolfPGA: Traveler’s Championship3:30 p.m.GolfHorsesRoyal Asco...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston could be suspended for up to three games  next season following the league's investigation into allegations he groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016, a Tallahassee radio station reported.Jeff Cameron, a&#...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

UPDATE, 6:43: Cash said the key to how the pieced the lineup together was the opportunity to give Cron (who is struggling) and Duffy (who is doing well) back to back days off. … Looking ahead to the weekend, the Rays will use RHP Ryne Stanek as...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Phil Mickelson apologizes four days after hitting moving ball at U.S. Open

Phil Mickelson apologizes four days after hitting moving ball at U.S. Open

NEW YORK — Phil Mickelson has apologized four days after intentionally violating golf rules by hitting a moving ball on the green at the U.S. Open, saying his frustration got the best of him. The apology came Wednesday in a statement released by his ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Tough questions are mere child’s play for Kevin Knox

Tough questions are mere child’s play for Kevin Knox

Growing up, Kevin Knox II watched videos or listened to motivational tapes during car rides to and from school so he could learn how to expand upon answers in interviews.That was all by design.His father, Kevin Knox Sr., knew about the spotlight as a...
Updated: 11 hours ago