Sunday, February 25, 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
Elkanah Kibet wins the menís Gasparilla half-marathon

Elkanah Kibet wins the menís Gasparilla half-marathon

TAMPA — Only a few feet separated Elkanah Kibet and Parker Stinson as they headed down the homestretch in Sunday's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic half-marathon.Kibet made his move at the right time, surging ahead and holding off the hard-ch...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Sara Hall sets course record in womenís Gasparilla half-marathon

Stephanie Bruce returned Sunday to defend her title at the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic half-marathon. She ran a blistering pace, shaving 50 seconds off her time from last year to finish well under the course record.Still, it was not enough to ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
On what Odorizzi has to feel good and bad about after trade from Rays to Twins

On what Odorizzi has to feel good and bad about after trade from Rays to Twins

Two things were pretty clear in talking to RHP Jake Odorizzi this morning in Fort Myers about being traded from the Rays to Twins.He couldn't be much happier than to be a new that that has legitimate playoff aspirations, and that he feels for those h...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Any deadline move wonít be cure-all for Lightning

Any deadline move wonít be cure-all for Lightning

The Lightning could very well add another defenseman by Monday's trade deadline, whether it's the bigger fish like Erik Karlsson or Ryan McDonagh, or depth piece like Mike Green.But, either way, one addition won't automatically cure some of the team-...
Updated: 3 hours ago
For starters, Rays at Twins, with Venters making first spring outing since 2013

For starters, Rays at Twins, with Venters making first spring outing since 2013

As the Rays head back to Fort Myers today for a game on the other side of I-75 to take on the Twins at 1:05, there are several spring debuts worth noting:First, that LHP Jonny Venters, trying to make it back to the majors for the first time since 201...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Ex-Rays prospect Andrew Toles working his way back from knee surgery for Dodgers

Ex-Rays prospect Andrew Toles working his way back from knee surgery for Dodgers

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Andrew Toles made a two-base error and went 0-for-3, and his team lost. All told, it was still a pretty good day for the Dodgers left fielder.In his first game since a serious knee injury last May, the former Rays prospect ret...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Florida boosts NCAA resume by beating No. 12 Auburn 72-66

Florida boosts NCAA resume by beating No. 12 Auburn 72-66

GAINESVILLE — KeVaughn Allen finally got the message. It took a scoreless game and long chats with coach Mike White and two teammates to sink in.Allen bounced back from his worst game in more than three years with 24 points, including a 60-foot...
Published: 02/24/18
Updated: 02/25/18
Winter Olympics: Sundayís viewing schedule

Winter Olympics: Sundayís viewing schedule

TV Sunday5 a.m.–7 p.m. NBCSNHockey (M) — Gold-medal game, athletes from Russia vs. Germany (replay)1968 — A 90-minute documentary, narrated by four-time gold medalist and 23-time Grand Slam singles tennis champion Serena Willia...
Published: 02/24/18
Chad Reed sets Supercross mark; Eli Tomac wins 450SX main event

Chad Reed sets Supercross mark; Eli Tomac wins 450SX main event

By JIM TOMLINTimes CorrespondentTAMPA — Chad Reed is having a down season by his standards. At Saturday's Monster Energy Supercross event at Raymond James Stadium, his home track, he needed a second chance just to make the main event.But the Da...
Published: 02/24/18
Ondrej Palat skating, likely mid-March return

Ondrej Palat skating, likely mid-March return

MONTREAL — It is an encouraging sign for the Lightning that wing Ondrej Palat (right) is back on the ice, even if he is doing just light skating.Palat is arguably the team's best two-way forward, someone who plays in all situations, so Tampa Ba...
Published: 02/24/18