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Soccer Science: Revisiting the 5-Minute Rule

KANSAS CITY, KS - SEPTEMBER 14:  Hopefully, Brad Davis and The 5 Minute Rule can keep a second 2012 off of that board (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, KS - SEPTEMBER 14: Hopefully, Brad Davis and The 5 Minute Rule can keep a second 2012 off of that board (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Three and a half months ago, after a particularly agonizing loss to DC United, I looked at the effects the 5 Minute Rule was having on our season. What is The 5 Minute Rule, you ask? Allow me to quote myself:

50% of goals [are] scored within the first and last 5 minutes of each half, as well as in the 5 minute span after a goal is scored.

What I found, through amateur statistics, was that the rule was helping us more than it was hurting us - it seemed that our penchant for scoring impactful goals was stronger than our tendency to give them away.

That was then, and this is now. While earning a point at Sporting KC was much-needed, and impressive at face value, the needlessness of the 93rd minute equalizer still burns. So after gaining only 6 points from the last 6 matches, its time to look back and see if the 5-Minute Rule has reared its ugly head. Not that I'm calling you ugly, anthropomorphized 5-Minute Rule, you're great.

Hit the jump to see what the juicy statistics have to say about the rest of our season in this week's Soccer Science.

My conclusion from May, that the 5-Minute Rule was helping us, came after a string of surprisingly positive results at the beginning of the season. Now, with a much larger selection size to work with, I wanted to take a more complete look at its impact.

Does the 5 Minute Rule Still Apply?

Analyzing all of our MLS matches from the beginning of the season to Friday's 1-1 draw with SKC, a total of 75 goals were scored, with 34 of them fitting into the aforementioned 5-minute window. That means 45% of goals fit The Rule. Compared to the Theoretical value of 50%, we get an 11% error in our actual value. While this falls slightly outside of an "acceptable" range, it only does so by 1% so I'm not going to rule out The Rule's significance just yet. Let's just say that our games are falling very close to the Rule's boundaries.

Conclusion: Maybe

Is The Rule helping or hurting us?

Of these 75 goals, 41 were scored by Your Houston Dynamo while 34 were scored by our assorted opponents, giving us a very nice and shiny +7 Goal Differential. Looking back at The Rule, both us and our opponents scored 17 "applicable" goals. Putting those numbers into percentages, we can see that 41% of our goals are applicable, while a very statistically significant 50% of goals conceded were. So it seems that The Rule, while even in amount of occurrences, is weighing more heavily on a percentage-basis against us. Uh-oh.

Conclusion: Hurting

To put this into perspective, I wanted to look at two particular streaks by our squad to see what effects The Rule had in different portions of our season.

The Win Streak: July 15-August 3

That was fun, wasn't it? The numbers speak for themselves: 13 goals for, 1 against. Of our 13 goals, 5 were applicable under the rule, for a grand total of 31%. More on that in a bit.

The Losing Streak: August 10-September 7

Looking at these numbers is far less uplifting. Three of our 5 goals during this stretch applied to The Rule, while 4 of our opponents' 8 goals did. So, although 60% of our goals came during the very important 5-Minute window, we were unable to get goals in the time between 5-minute windows.

To put it simply: it appears that it is more important for us to find goals in stretches of inactivity than it is during the 5-Minute windows. But our needs to stay more consistent in those "Rule" moments. While our losing streak showed the same ratio of Rule-applying goals (50%) to our entire season (50%), the winning streak showed only 1 goal applying to the rule - a 45th minute PK by Kei Kamara. Not too shabby.

Conclusion #1: Goals outside of The Rule > Goals inside the Rule

Conclusion #2: Conceding goals inside of The Rule = Losses

Conclusion #3: Duh (see: Conclusion 2)

The Rule and The Run-In

Of our five remaining opponents, we have played two of them once (Philly and Revs) and one of them twice (Montreal), with one yet to have been faced (Colorado). In those matches, we sported a +2 Goal Differential (9 goals for, 7 against). Looking back at The Rule, we see 4 goals for us and 3 against, or 44% and 43% respectively. That is significant, as it reveals a stretch of opponents that aren't necessarily efficient at scoring in those windows. If our losses are predicated on giving up these important goals, then facing teams that haven't been good at that against us is a positive sign.

Conclusion: Things are looking up, like our Eastern foes will be in a month.

Apropos Video of the Week

That was a lot of words, so here's some music to soothe your wearied soul. This would've been far more applicable if Sapong hadn't ruined the party at Livestrong, but this September is shaping up to be wildly important for the playoff standings. Zach noted yesterday that these 5 games are all very winnable, and the statistics today backed that up. 15 points is possible, with 12 being really mandatory.

Sidenote: If you haven't seen The Intouchables yet, do so. Its probably one of the best movie to come out in a long time, en francais or in english. Just saying.

Now lets beat CD Fas.