2018 Away Days Ranked

The team site has issued a list of five best "away days" in 2018. It's a fine list, but unfortunately it seems to be based more on general match-up intrigue rather than actual feasibility of making an away trip out of it. So here is a list of our top five away days based on your ability to say "fuck it let's go" and make a weekend out of it without it being a proper long haul of a trip, both when it comes to budget and time.

A couple notes:

  • As derby days in the Bronx don't require any intercity travel and you get to sleep in your own bed afterwards, they're in a different category and won't be on the list. We're ranking the desirability of folding in an away day into a weekend excursion.
  • Long distance flights are generally disqualifying. A 1.5 hour flight to Toronto? Sure (although trekking through airports and TSA does detract from the quick-weekend trip vibe). But a round trip six-hour flight to San Jose or Seattle is not really quite on the same level.

1) Saturday, September 1 at Montreal Impact


Montreal is a lovely city, but unfortunately the last couple of times we've played there on a weekend it's been early in the season, when they are still in the midst of their terrible winter and playing in the Big O. Not so this year, as a Labor Day weekend match date offers an opportunity to both not freeze and to use Sunday to shake off that hangover with poutine and Monday morning to travel back. Our only gripe is that due to a too-curvy rail alignment and a long stop over at the border, the Amtrak up here is not as feasible as one would like, so borrowing a car for the weekend remains the best move.

2) Sunday, September 16 at DC United


Our first game is at Audi Field is in July, but that is on a Wednesday -- so fuck that. Hats off to you if you're one of the devoted who treks four hours each way on a work day for a regular season game, but unless you take Thursday and Friday off as well, a weekend trip is out of the question. And honestly, would you want to be in DC all the way from Wednesday to Sunday? No, a weekend is just the right amount. Dia de Independencia is calling you in DC. And it's still early enough that springing for an Amtrak "saver" ticket could be worth avoiding the indignity of the MegaBus.

3) Saturday, March 31 at Orlando City


Here we agree with the team site -- the Sacha/Rivas/Redding reunion will be exciting even if both teams get out to a slow start, and by all accounts Orlando's stadium seems worth seeing in person. Now seems as good a time as ever. This is the first flight on our list, as the two-ish hours to Florida aren't that bad and Disneyworld's presence helps depress flight prices. We will (hopefully) be at the death of winter by this point, so why not go reward yourself with some actual sun. And then go to Epcot for a day or some shit, I don't know.

4) Sunday, October 21 at Philadelphia Union


Not gonna lie -- we like Philly a lot. (The city, obviously fuck its teams.) And this is the easiest and best bus trip you can do with a supporters group. We still have fond memories of SWP's assist to BWP to put away the Union in the City of Brotherly Love. While the bus trip is great, this time we're tempted to try our hand at the surprisingly expansive SEPTA regional rail system to trek down to Chester as we might if we actually lived in Philly. And of course, this will be Decision Day as well. Being in the stands on a hopefully crisp fall afternoon sounds nice.

5) Sunday, July 1 at Toronto FC


Going more out on a limb on this one -- we've never been to Toronto, so cannot vouch for the city itself (although we hear vaguely good things?). But with BMO field now in its fully-built stage, TFC and Metro seemingly building some bad blood, and a summer match date that won't freeze you next to the lake, seems like a good time to check out the place where we all live according to the movies.

RBNY at SKC Predictions

Due to conflicting work schedules and other commitments, we will be recording after Wednesday's game in Kansas, and including it with discussion of the Chicago game.

Below are our score and starting 11 predictions, with supporting blurbs:

Brit: The Red Bulls fail to find offensive rhythm on tired legs and a rotated squad, and, like in Orlando, make one defensive lapse that's enough to sink them. 0-1 Loss.

Sam: The boys will continue to play poorly on the road against a strong SKC with excellent home form; looking forward to more minutes from Veron and anticipating lackluster performances from Sacha, DP & Muyl. 1-2 loss.

Peaches: SKC seem to be a legit team this season, and their offensive threats are definitely something to be cautious of.  I do think that we will see some roster rotation, but I think that we might see more of that on Saturday against a weaker Philadelphia Union.  I think we should be a bit concerned with our defensive depth with Collin out, but Perrinelle offers a dynamic to the attack that Collin doesn't.  We might see a midweek goal fest tonight, and I don't know if we can pull through with all three points.  Still, I remain optimistic. 3-3 draw.

The All New York Hip Hop Starting 11 (and Bench)

The folks over at Dirty South Soccer recently released a pretty strong all-Atlanta hip hop starting 11.  Atlanta certainly has a pretty strong hip hop scene, and we are known to be fans of it ourselves.  However, hip hop started in the Bronx, and New York lays claim to some great hip hop.  There are too many great artists from NYC to count, so here is not only a starting 11 for New York's hip hop super team, but also the bench players.  Of course, we set a couple of ground rules:

  1. All rappers must be alive.  There are of course great rappers who have passed on, but they can't play soccer from the grave
  2. Unfortunately, we're limiting our selection to male rappers.  Nicki, Kim, Remy Ma, and Young M.A. are great, and we'd just put a starting 11 of just them if it were up to us, but soccer is segregated right now, and we simply have so much talent to pick from that we needed to cut something based on arbitrary distinctions.  We are aware of the misogyny within hip hop and its culture, and we recognize that that also leads to low female representation, but for the purposes of this exercise, we will contribute to the hip hop patriarchy.
  3. We decided to go with a 4-2-3-1 because, like New York hip hop set the standard for hip hop, it set the standard for modern soccer formations.

So, without any further ado, here it is (be sure to peep my reasoning under the graphic):



Leading the attack for New York is 50 Cent ("Fifty" in our diagram because Lineup Builder wouldn't let us put a number in the name).  50 Cent is ruthless, can take many hits from defenders, and will act as a strong number 9 for the city.  He is a prolific rapper, and definitely has the ego and selfishness we need from a great striker.

Backing up Mr. Curtis Jackson are DMX and A$AP Ferg.  Both loud, proud, and prolific rappers of their own.


Attacking Midfielders


Out wide, we have a young, flashy winger on the left and a speedy vet on the right.  A$AP Rocky as our left midfielder is the type of dude to do you in with a couple of stepovers, nutmeg you into the shadow realm, and leave you in the dust as he cuts in and scores a screamer.  His backflip celebration is topped off by the shine from his diamond grill.  Behind him on the depth chart are Q Tip and MF Doom, both creative and technically skilled vets who despite their age haven't lost a beat.

On the right is Busta Rhymes.  Busta has been in the business forever, but his blazing speed and technical ability is unmatched, and he will blow past you like his syllables and rhymes blow past mach speed.  He's getting up there in age, but will still put in a stellar cross after beating his man to the touch line.  Backing him up are Desiigner, a raw talent with a high ceiling, and Papoose, who is in NY because his passion for the city is immense.

Central Attacking Midfielders

GZA, the genius, is our obvious number 10.  Just absolutely brilliant, his mind is unmatched and his creativity overflowing.  GZA will give our attackers the through balls that nobody can think of, but also has the talent to take on defenders one-on-one and come out with the ball afterwards.

Our bench players are no slouches either, and are constantly fighting for the starting spot.  We have Immortal Technique, who, as his namesake suggests, has insane technical skill.  Many would consider him the GOAT, many would consider him overrated, but he can challenge for that starting spot.  Also on the bench is Pharoahe Monch.  He's one of those dudes who's been around a surprising amount, and definitely has the talent and creativity, but he's been plagued with injury, and has played on-and-off for most of his career.

Defensive Midfielders

The greatest midfielder pairing of all time.  They push each other to be better, and they even bicker often.  But these two are the two pillars of New York hip hop.  Jay Z and Nas each deserve a statue, and while the chemistry between the two of them started off poorly, both are such tremendous players, that they make the best pairing of all time.  Backing them up are another pairing of Talib Kweli and Mos Def, who are possibly some of the more underrated players in the game, but both of them have great chemistry together, having played for so long together.  In the reserves are Swizz Beatz and RZA, who while strong in certain ways aren't the best on the field for their abilities on the ball.  Gritty and persevering, they are good guys to have in the fold and in the locker room.



New York's centerbacks are scary, man.  They will kill you, and they are immense.  Fat Joe and Ghostface Killah both have seen everybody come and go, but one thing remains constant: they are still there.  Our centerbacks will absolutely bully you, and Donald Trump can only hope to build a wall like this.

Backing them up are no slouches as well.  Jim Jones might be from The Diplomats, but there is no diplomacy when it comes to stopping a counter attack.  Action Bronson is obviously the guy to step up after Ghostface Killah.  Rev Run is a vet who's mostly there for locker room orale, and Joell Ortiz, despite his great form, can't seem to make it off the bench.


Fullback is not a particularly deep position for New York, or anywhere else.  Going for experience over youth, Cam'ron and Jadakiss are both on their own amazing one-on-one defenders.  Cam'ron will frustrate you and will make u mad when he stops your attack, and Jadakiss is just absolutely ruthless.  When there's a need for more attacking fullbacks, we have French Montana and Joey Bada$$, who are highly aggressive and will overlap well with the wingers we have on the roster.  Juelz Santana is a veteran presence who can still contribute, but has seen his production drop off in recent years, and Troy Ave is one of those, couldn't-play-other-positions-well-enough-so-let's-try-him-out-at-fullback players who plays an occasional cup game.


KRS-One, the teacher, is our man between the poles.  He is a shot-stopper, but he can also spray a ball to midfield effortlessly.  He's been around forever, but his game is timeless, like the verses that he spits.  KRS-One is a living legend, and deserves a statue outside the stadium.  Behind him is Puffy, or Puff Daddy or P. Diddy or Diddy, who has been known to pull the strings of a successful attack.  Unfortunately, he has always tried to put himself in drama, and has never had loads of ability, so he is riding the pine.  Also available for selection is Aesop Rock, an underrated talent, who unfortunately has never really grown more than a niche support despite his talent and influence.

On the IR is Bobby Shmurda and Max B after suffering from a prison sentence earlier in the season.  Also in the reserves are Flatbush Zombies, the rest of Pro Era, Method Man, and others.

So, what do you think?  Are we right, do you have other ideas?  Tweet them to us @ViewFrom202 or email us at contact@viewfrom202.com

All those away goal graphics are misleading you. [Updated]

They also told me that you look like you got fat.

by Brit Byrd - Updated November 5, 7:57pm

Keeping track of all the possible outcomes of a 2-leg playoff series can be cumbersome. Luckily over the past week a series of visualizations have popped up across the soccer internet to help us all out.

However, you are being misled. Very lightly and subtly, but misled nonetheless. The trouble is that these are great reference tables, but bad data visualizations -- and the key inclusion of color is ensuring that your eyes are interpreting these graphics as both. 

By coloring in each entry according to the winning team, the grid moves beyond being a dry reference table and takes on a new life as a kind of area map. We’re not just looking at this to see how many goals Dallas needs to score if Seattle scores one, we’re looking at that huge wave of rave green and that tiny dot of red and thinking “wow Dallas are screwed.”

Which, as it happens, they are. But yet these graphics are still being sloppy in communicating how much -- especially for the other closer games.  More space is communicating better chances, so the shape and size of each entry in the grid matters. There are two ways in which I think the existing graphics fall short on this front:

  1. uneven axes and rectangular grids

  2. over representing low frequency results

Ultimately, adjusting for both of these aspects would leave us with something more like this:


 Numbers in each grid represent % of occurrence of given score in select European leagues from 2005-2010

Numbers in each grid represent % of occurrence of given score in select European leagues from 2005-2010

 Uneven axes and rectangular grids

These things are made of rectangles. This is probably just because people didn't fudge with the excel defaults, and didn't mind having the extra padding for text. But the result is that one team's axis is significantly shorter than the other. Now this is not the worst sin, as ultimately the area of each team's rectangles are the same. But our eyes interpret  height and width differently. There's no reason to not try to control for this uncertainty by making them all squares, so that one team doesn’t command more of our attention from unconscious bias.

Additionally, the original graphics posted featured a 5x6 grid. I'm not sure why, but the result is that the home teams get an entire additional row of real estate -- and sometimes low information real estate at that (but more on that later). Now in this case it worked out so that it was the y-axis that received this extra row, which somewhat compensates for the "wider" x-axis. Maybe this was an intentional evening-out of sorts, I don't know. But either way it's imprecise and presents an uneven universe of possibilities, and there's no reason to not make the entire graphic a square.

Over representing low frequency results

Even though all the grids and axes are evened out, we’re still over-representing certain data. Specifically, we are over-representing very high scoring games and blowouts. Many more games end 0-0 or 1-1 than 4-0 or 4-4, but the graphic is representing these score lines with the same visual weight. For reference, here is a distribution of scores in a similar grid:

Consider that while the 5x5 grid (goals from 0-4) represents 96.7% of all scenarios, a 4x4 grid (goals from 0-3) still represents 89.5% of all scenarios. That final row and column represent just 7.2% of all actual outcomes, yet they are taking up 36% of the space. That’s a disproportionate amount of area representing pretty unlikely events.

By shading in each entry corresponding to its frequency, we can avoid some of these pitfalls. In the straight color version, Montreal occupies 72% of the graphic even though only 64.3% of the time they get a score that sees them advance. The gradient helps adjust for this.

When I raised this stink on Twitter, the creator of the original graphics somewhat agreed, but offered that due to the unusual scoring incentives of the playoffs, he felt uncomfortable making score line distribution too central. (He also provided the very handy graphic of score line distributions which I have used to fill out these tables.) While it’s not ideal to be applying regular season data to the playoffs, I think it is certainly better than nothing. A 4-0 result is still rare and remarkable in the playoffs, and a 4-4 result especially so. And the playoff incentives are more likely to distort the distribution at the lower scores, as teams might bunker more than they would in a regular season game (as you would expect of Montreal on Sunday). I’m more interested in diluting the outer fringes of the board, where currently a score line with 0.1% frequency is occupying 4% of the space. Even if that 0.1% figure is off by an order of magnitude, it’s still a worthy change.

Also worth considering is how much information we’re really getting from some of these 4-0 squares anyway. The four- goal row is most useful when it’s telling us that the Red Bulls need to score four when Montreal scores just two. And Montreal scoring two is not a crazy scenario, it happens 19.3% of the time. But stepping back into a little bit of common sense tells us that when it gets to some of these more extreme score lines, it’s not very informative at all. Obviously the Red Bulls cannot afford to give up four goals, and obviously they cannot tie 4-4, as they are already behind. You know this without referencing the table or away goals. This part of the grid is only here as the extension of the more interesting part of the array, but we can de-emphasize it appropriately.


These 4-0 squares are kind of like if FiveThirtyEight somewhat prominently displayed one of their 10,000 simulations in which Hillary Clinton wins every single electoral vote. Sure it could happen, but it’s very unlikely, and in any case very obvious. The Red Bulls cannot afford to lose 0-4, just like Donald Trump cannot afford to lose every state. Now of course your brain know this, but your eye doesn't; at a glance, it first picks up that this square takes up the same amount of space as the most likely score, a 1-1 draw.

If this were a more robust, respectable, and generally better publication, we might have a nuanced model a la FiveThirtyEight to generate a distribution of likely scores taking into account match-up specific ELO rankings rather than imported frequencies from other competitions. Alas, this is a pedantic rant conducted over a lunch hour so this is what you get. But we can at least avoid representations that we know to be bluntly misleading (and indeed, imperfect and low information analytical efforts can be better than doing nothing at all).

UPDATE: I've done the graphics for the other three match-ups.

The Toronto - NYCFC graphic was actually fairly close in its original form. The original graphic was overstating Toronto's chances by only 4%, and the gradient may be a little harsh to NYCFC's primary color of light blue. Even at full opacity, it might look weak compared to Toronto's strong red, and at the bottom of the spectrum, it barely registers at all, even though the 4-0 and 4-1 squares are half of their entire entries. 

LA - Colorado is, as you'd expect, the exact same thing as RBNY - Montreal. The original graphic is over-representing both teams' chances, but the gradient redirects our attention back to the more meaningful part of the graphic.

For Seattle - Dallas, the original graphic was actually understating how screwed FC Dallas are. Even though Seattle is being given all that low information, but eye-catching 4 goal territory, the frequencies of the score lines Dallas's needs are so low that they were still getting the better of the graphic. I've reintroduced the 5 goal row for Dallas here, as I think it effectively communicates the daunting task ahead of them, whereas this row was just not as relevant for the other match-ups. Ideally I would have been able to throw in a 5 goal column for the away team as well, but alas the data was not available.


comments, questions, and general snark can reach the author at brit.byrd@gmail.com

Targeted Points vs. Actual Points [Updated]

On this page, you will find our best-case-scenario points projection (from Episode 019) along with an automatically updated sheet and chart on how we're doing for the season in relation to our targets.

An important distinction: the results in the "target" column are not predicted or expected results. As discussed in Episode 019, predicting 7 wins out of 12 and only one loss for the remainder of the season would be quite bold. Rather, they are targets that would deliver us 56 points for the whole season, and a solid chance at a first round bye in the playoffs. They can be considered as a "best case scenario" of sorts that, while very optimistic, acknowledges we're not going to win out.