View from the Booth: Only one statistic matters at the final whistle
I believe it was Mark Twain who coined the phrase: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
Twain, himself, attributed the comment to former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, though evidence could not be found to back this up.
Whoever said it first, the point is that the phrase highlights the use of statistics to support flaky arguments. Soccer is as much to blame for using stats as a way of trying to prove one point or another.
In the past two games, Colorado Rapids have been out-passed and given up the bulk of possession.
Against Real Salt Lake, they managed 275 passes, as opposed to 444. RSL enjoyed 60.5% of possession.
In the most recent contest, the Rapids numbered 294 passes. Chivas USA totalled 435. Possession-wise, it was 60.8% v. 39.2% in the home team's favor.
We all get hung up on possession, passes and - of course - shots. The more, the merrier … or so we're led to believe.
But, as has been highlighted against RSL and Chivas, it's more about quality than quantity.
Highlights: Colorado 1, Chivas USA 0
Both conquered opponents may feel a little sore on not getting anything from the respective meeting with the Rapids, but both had their chances. Indeed, both had penalty kicks. Alvaro Saborio's was saved. Jose Correa thumped his against the crossbar.
The fact of the matter is, the Rapids scored and their opponents didn't. All very simple, and it's the only stat which matters come the final whistle.
Plus, there are elements not gauged by numbers or mapped by a graph or pie chart - determination, organization and sheer hard work.
Saturday's 1-0 win over Chivas USA was not easy on the eye. It lacked rhythm, fluency and - in front of goal - it lacked quality.
The Rapids gifted possession away far too often. An ambitious long ball was often intercepted when a short, simple alternative appeared a better option. It invited pressure, and for long stretches of the second half the midfield were fire-fighting.
Yes, they rode their luck a little at the Home Depot Center. Jorge Villafana deserved a penalty and not a yellow card. Correa - maybe wary of Clint Irwin's growing reputation - then slammed his effort against the bar.
This sport never ceases to mystify. Here was a side in Chivas that had rattled in 10 goals in four games. Yet, the pk aside and a couple of acrobatic efforts from Laurent Courtois, Chivas rarely looked like lifting coach Chelis's mood last weekend.
It begs the question, how did they score four against Chicago?
And then there's FC Dallas. Admittedly, they've got into their stride since the opening day, but there was little in that 1-0 win over the Rapids to suggest they'd be soaring atop the Western Conference, six points clear of the rest.
In fact, not one of the sides to tackle the Rapids this season would have me unduly worried.
What Oscar Pareja's team has shown in recent weeks is that they can adapt to their surroundings. The opposition want to play, then the Rapids will look to match them in that department. If the other team wants to dig in and scrap, then the Rapids can do that also.
And all this - still - with half as many players lying on the treatment table as running around the practice field.
All the while the Rapids are keeping clean sheets and collecting three points, one can't grumble too much. But of six goals scored in seven games, two have been penalties, only four have come from open play. The attacking threat has got to be sharper, the understanding improved and the finishing more ruthless.
Two successive clean sheets suggests there's little to worry about defensively. The midfield, though over-run and over-worked for long periods at Chivas, has shown they have the resilience and discipline to combat most threats. If we're being picky at this stage, then it's in front of goal where things need to improve.
On that front, the stats don't lie.