Soccer Science: The 5-Minute Rule

April 28, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Houston Dynamo forward Will Bruin (12) celebrates after a goal against DC United during the second half at RFK Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Frederiksen-US PRESSWIRE

With our elbows in a 90-degree angle, holding ourselves in a lowered push-up position, my high school teammates and I would curse our coach between heavy breaths. And, just as the lactic acid in our muscle tissues threatened to burn itself an escape route, our coach would scream "5 minutes". Together, we would run suicide sprints along the field. 6 year box, then back. 18, then back. Midfield, then back. All the way to the other endline...then collapse.

After Maicon Santos headed in the eventual match-winner, Darrell Lovell's tweet sent a chill went down my back.

The late evening sprinting sessions of my high school career had taught me to fear The 5-Minute Rule. It stated that 50% of goals were scored within the first and last 5 minutes of each half, as well as in the 5 minute span after a goal is scored. So, to remember that our team was never safe from conceding a goal, we would run sprints for the last 5 minutes of practice (note: it was most certainly longer than five minutes).

Does The 5-Minute Rule really exist? It makes sense in theory. Goals at the beginning of halves take advantage of slow starts, and those at the end of the half prey on players hoping for the final whistle. After a goal is scored, its easy to see two ways of thinking by players - either "okay, lets get another" or "okay, lets hold on for the points". To put it bluntly, the Dynamo were certainly thinking the latter after each of Bruin's goals on Saturday.

So are the Dynamo not heeding the threat of the dreaded 5-Minute Rule? Hit the jump as we see if my A- in stats this semester has earned me anything other than the title of resident nerd here at DT.

Over the first six Dynamo matches, 15 total goals were scored. Of those, one was scored in the last 5 minutes (CHV), one in the first 5 minutes (DCU, second half), and six in the 5 minutes following a goal. That gives us an average of 0.53 (8/15) goals per game that qualify under The 5-Minute Rule. Comparing that to my coach's Rule, which stated that 50% of goals occur in these windows, we get 5.6% error - well within an acceptable range for such a small sample size. So, yes, The 5-Minute Rule is alive and well, even playing a larger role than my coach had initially warned.

That's nice and all, but it doesn't tell us if The 5-Minute Rule is something to be feared. After all, it can favor either team. So: is The 5-Minute Rule helping or hurting the Dynamo? Let's take a look.

Of the 8 relevant goals, the Dynamo scored three (CHV, DCU, DCU) while our opponent scored five (SEA, CHI, CLB, CLB, DCU). To delve deeper, albeit in a pessimistic manner, two of our "positive" goals were wasted at DCU, while all but the second Seattle goal earned points for the opposing team. Regardless, this leaves us with eitehr a 3 to 5, or 1 to 4, deficit with this statistic. Needless to say, The 5-Minute Rule is hurting us.

What does this tell us about the Dynamo? For one, we need to work on seizing the momentum once we make a breakthrough. Bruin's goals in DC could have provided the impetus for a huge away win. Instead, terrible clearances and a complete lack of man-marking left us with a big goose egg in the points department. Similarly, the leads in Chicago and Columbus were overturned all-too-easily. Its frustrating, for sure, but not unfixable.

The season is early my friends, and I am hardly the pessimist, so here's the bright side for those of you reaching for a bottle.

Which Bear is Best?

The Dancing Bear, and the dude is on fire. His first against DCU was the product of a scorching run by Taylor, certainly. But Will's winding run in the box left Cunningham stranded, and left Bruin with an easy tap in. His second showed a bit of his predatory side. Should his hard strike have been saved? Probably. But when strikers get on these types of streaks, that's the type of rolls they'll get.

The Return of the (Elven) King

Davis is back, baby. And while his play left much to be desired in 30 minutes of work, I am infinitely pleased to have him back. We are just not getting enough chances on goal, and his inclusion should certainly help in that department. He'll have a couple weeks to continue improvement before the opening of El Banco.

Fashion Faux Pas of the Week

Next time a team organizes a t-shirt night during a playoff game, they should make sure they don't match the opposing team's jerseys. Just a thought. The lapse in judgment certainly gave the Mavericks, in their match against the Thunder, a nice psychological boost. Luckily, order was restored in the universe when KD got a friendly roll with 1.5 seconds left to beat Dirk's Army of Darkness.

Update: they must have seen my yet-to-be-published qualms about the subject. Last night, in Game 2, the Thunder fans wore all white to match the team's jerseys. That wasn't so hard, was it?

Apropos Hip-Hop Video of the Week


We Can Do It Now- Lupe Fiasco ft. Jennifer Hudson and Common

Zach said it best when he urged perspective after a loss like this. The season is early, the road trip is long, but the bright lights of El Banco await in two weeks' time. A match against a battered NYRB team is all that stands between us and the Promised Land. And, despite the firepower, New York is a winnable match. Goals will come, especially with Bruin on his current tear. All that matters is a little more respect of The 5-Minute Rule. Maybe my old coach could make it to some practices to "teach some lessons"?

Forza Naranja.

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