Did you hear the news? Landon Donovan is coming out of retirement and joining … Leon in LigaMX? What exactly is a Leon and where is LigaMX? Never fear, SoccerNurds is here to give you a data-driven introduction to LigaMX. Compilation by @choulito.
Leon is a club in Mexico’s top soccer division, LigaMX. Leon was a powerhouse early on in Mexico’s professional history, winning 4 of its 7 titles from 1947 through 1956. After being relegated a couple of times, Leon has repositioned itself as a strong club, most recently becoming the first club in Mexico’s history to win back to back titles in both the “long season” and “short season” format, by winning the Apertura 2013 and Clausura 2014 titles.
LigaMX is a popular league in the United States, with many matches available on over the air networks (Univision), and consistently generates the highest soccer TV ratings in the United States. Guadalajara and America are the clubs with the most titles, with 12 each. The current title holders are Tigres, who won the recent Apertura 2017 title. The league is competitive, with six different clubs winning the last eight titles (Leon, America, Santos, Tigres, Pachuca, Guadalajara), and an additional two winning Concacaf Champions League titles (Monterrey and Cruz Azul). Tigres are also by far the most expensive squad according to Transfermarkt, with several clubs following at around 60-65% Tigres’ value. LigaMX also has a strong representation of national team players from other countries. For the last world cup in 2014, LigaMX was the league with the seventh most players represented.
There are three things that distinguish LigaMX from traditional soccer leagues. First, LigaMX has two seasons a year, the Apertura (Opening) season normally runs from July through December, and the Clausura (Closing) season runs January through May. Each consists of one round robin for the 18 teams, followed by playoffs. The playoffs are the second thing that differentiates LigaMX from popular European leagues (though MLS does have playoffs). LigaMX has had a playoff system since the 1970-71 season. The top eight teams qualifying for the playoffs, or “liguilla.” The playoffs follow a home and away direct elimination, with the tiebreakers in the quarterfinals and semifinals first being aggregate score, followed by most away goals, followed by standing in the regular season. The final eliminates the away goal and standings tiebreakers, allowing for overtime and penalty shots to determine a tied score.
The Nurdy Stuff
Soccernurds are dedicated to analyzing LigaMX teams and players based on available data. We invite you to check out some of our products throughout the season. Below are a few recent examples which will hopefully give you a better sense of team styles and key players.
This is one look at teams by comparing average minutes in the lead to how many times a team is dispossessed. If we believe that the urge to score makes a team more impatient and prone to more errors then in this chart we can see four teams getting hurt by their own impulsiveness: Chivas, Santos, Tijuana, and Pachuca. These are also four of the youngest teams in the league, and they have very dynamic teams, which added together lead to many possession changes, and back and forth type of matches. Note how Toluca, a more experienced team, handles being tied or losing a match. It would appear they are not as desperate to get that goal and would rather keep control of the match knowing they have the probabilities in their favor if they stick to a solid, even if more conservative, game plan.
Another way to look at team’s styles is to look at how goalkeepers play the ball. Ball possession was a core strategy for 4 teams this Apertura ’17: Tigres, Puebla, Cruz Azul, and Chivas, and their goalkeepers reflect that by the accuracy of their passes. By opting for a short safe pass and play the ball from the back their pass effectiveness is increased (blue shade zone at the top). Meanwhile Veracruz keepers opted more often to attempt long passes to keep the ball away from them (red shade zone).
A way to see how team’s operate on offense is by looking at shot conversion rate with shot attempts. Note how a team like Santos takes an extraordinary amount of shots, but they are likely low quality shots given their conversion rate. Conversely, America doesn’t take that many shots, but converts at a high rate. Champion Tigres were middle of the pack in shot attempts, but also convert at a high rate.
Here is another example, using creations per match and goals. Note how champions Tigres create a high volume of chances, are also efficient. Overall regular season leader and runner-up Monterrey are much more clinical.
The Performance-100 system.
“Per 90-minute data doesn’t take into account how often a player receives the ball and therefore has the opportunity to, for example, complete a dribble.
The solution was to use possessions as the control figure, rather than minutes played.
Per possession data, which looks at what each player (or team) does per 100 times that the ball is possessed, can be used to understand each player’s (or team’s) style and their efficiency in different aspects of the game.” – Tom Harrison: @tomh_36
Tom Harrison, a Soccernurd cardmember, has created an approach to looking at players per 100 possessions. This allows for a comparison between players without skewing results based on playing time or a team’s style. We suggest you visit this link for a longer description, as well as a short video on the subject.
Chucky Lozano is a recent LigaMX product. Here is how he compares to Pulisic and Sterling using Tom Harrison’s Performance100 approach.
Here is comparison of LigaMX defensive midfielders. Note recent US player and new Mexico player Jonathan Gonzalez, and how he compares to other players in the league.
We hope this introduction to LigaMX has satisfied your curiosity about the league and will be helpful for you to select a team to root for. You can hear from us throughout the season at :
#ligamxeng community is a growing community of writers providing news and commentary in English. Here is a sample::
#ligamxeng hashtag can also introduce you to team specific news and commentary. If you are interested in podcasts, @MexSoccerShow has a regular Patreon sponsored show featuring some of the writers above, and @CantinaMX_POD has a longer, but free show touching on LigaMX and related issues.