Midday football slop for you to eat.

I have a massive pounding headache after spending two hours on an analytics post that is TL;DR worth your time and effort to read and understand because, you know, yeah. So in any case this will hopefully not be as brief as my brain would like it to be. And I think by the NY Red Bulls may have announced Frank Lampard/Juninho has joined up for next season.

The NEWS: an uncomfortable, if inevitable, collision of interests in the Football Supporters Federation’s support for safe-standing terraces. One of the Hillsborough victims has come out today in opposition to any standing terraces in English football:

Margaret Aspinall is chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group and her son James, 18, was among the 96 people who died at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium in April 1989,

Mrs Aspinall, who notes there were several issues behind the Hillsborough tragedy, said: “There are 96 reasons why it should not be allowed.

“There were 96 dead at Hillsborough and it could have been a lot more.

“Standing should never, ever come back. I do not think there is anything safe about standing.

“I feel insulted that while people are trying to fight for justice for Hillsborough, that this campaign is growing now.

This will no doubt be fodder for Daily Mail types who would find nothing better than to find a wedge of division between Hillsborough families and the efforts of the grassroots fan group FSF. The issue however should be decided on the evidence for safety considerations alone. While Mrs. Aspinall is correct, the root cause of the tragedy was not the existence of standing terraces per se, but the circumstances which led to a crush of supporters in the Leppings Lane end.

That said, with recent fan incidents, particularly those involving alcohol abuse, and with not everyone with rosy memories of the standing terraces in England, the issue needs to be decided beyond mere nostalgia, or cheap tickets. Safety should be first and foremost.

In M.L.S. news, as the NY Times insists on referring to it, a very cool story that is worth your time:

Professional soccer players in Central and South America beware: M.L.S. is watching you.

For the last few years, Major League Soccer officials have helped teams in the league keep tabs on potential transfer possibilities in Central and South America by recording games from various nations and keeping the video on file.

“Since a number of our players were coming down from Central and South America, we decided at that point to think about ways that we could help our teams in their scouting and recruitment efforts,” said Lino DiCuollo, the league’s vice president of player relations and competition, in a recent phone interview. “So one of the things was to start cataloging all the games in many of the leagues in Central and South America where we were getting players.”

Essentially, MLS is branching out its analytics and performance analysis in the hopes of poaching some up-and-comers out of Central and South America (apparently they think there is such a thing as advanced technical scouting!).

This is a really positive development for a number of reasons. First, it leverages MLS’ proximity and out-sized data advantages (MLS has more PA’s per square inch than any comparable league in terms of competitive quality) to beat foreign markets to rising stars in Latin America. While it’s not immediately clear in the article, it looks as if there will be some sharing arrangements with the leagues and teams in question. If MLS then manages to scout great talent first, before selling on players to Europe, it could provide the league a much-needed revenue boost.

Not only will this ideally lead to another source of club revenue for these leagues, but it could give coaches and analysts in smaller leagues access to data and resources they may not have otherwise had. Finally, it’s a reminder that MLS speaks Spanish, so post-season tours of Scandinavia may not proffer such a great market advantage. Based on the latest research, Toronto FC will need to do all it can to improve spending-to-league-points effeciency, ASAP.

Comment of the Day

Marco – “I was actually hoping that this article would shed light on the fact that, and I feel I’m the only one who thinks this way, Messi would not have broken this record if he played in Serie A, EPL, or Bundesliga..

Aside from the fact that Barcelona is in fact an incredible team with arguably the worlds greatest talent, specifically their midfield, Having two, MAYBE three teams that are “competitive” in La Liga does not make this record something to be applauded.

Before you go all crazy on me, YES, to be able to put the ball in the back of the net IS very important and is not given as much credit as it deserves, and YES, to do so 86 times thus far is equally very very impressive, but not against garbage defenders and technically unsound teams.

I’m really hoping I’m not the only one who thinks this way about this record…basically, I feel that if Messi played in EPL or Serie A, defenders would be all over him (feel free to make the argument that defenders have to worry equally as much about other players on the Barcelona team, so to be able to focus on Messi specifically will open up other holes in the team…blah blah blah)”

Have at it, children.