What did our beloved Claret and Cobalt do the evening of March, 10th? They did what they trained for. They did what they most wanted. They did what they are capable of. They “came to score” (The Aggrolites).
When one finds one's self glancing at statistics day-in, day-out, it all gets a bit hazy, and sometimes the numbers all blend together. I suppose that's rather the fun of it, that blending — that Neo moment, when it suddenly seems as if it's all come together and you can see past the mess and into the makeup of the beautiful game. Of course, it's not that simplistic, is it? If it were, we might be living in a different sort of world and watching a different sort of game.
But that's not to say that numbers are at all meaningless. One in particular that has jumped out at me in recent weeks has been our fouls-to-cards ratio, which sits among the league's worst. For every 7.3 fouls we commit, we are shown one yellow card — and we've had 52 of those this season. We're also fourth-highest in fouls committed per match, at 13.2.
Let's take this one step further. Of our 52 cards, only 31 have been for fouls. Six have been for dissent, five for argument, and two for persistent infringement. Adjusting our fouls-to-cards rate — 381 fouls, 31 cards for fouls — leaves us at 12.3 fouls per card. It is certainly a more acceptable rate, and fascinatingly, it actually lands us in the top half of the table in this regard.
Now, you may remember Jason Kreis talking earlier this season about how we (as a team, not as a fan base, although there's certainly a shout for that) were focusing too much on the referee. This little bit of stats gives some credence to that thought.
I had been worried that we were receiving too many cards for our fouls, but perhaps it's a different problem entirely. It does seem to have been fixed recently, which makes the numbers all the more startling — we're leading in yellows from argument (5) and dissent (6, tied with Galaxy and DC) — and that's with rather recent improvement.
I'm no sports psychologist. I can't much speculate on why exactly this is the case, and I can't really spot the root of it. I do, however, have a few hypotheses: 1) It is a continued reaction to the treatment of Javier Morales in light of his break last season. 2) Referees don't much like us. I don't particularly suspect this one. 3) We have a sense of entitlement as a group. This one may actually be one of our best traits — we always think we deserve to win, and we're generally willing to do what it takes to ensure we do.
Taking a look at this at the end of the season will be elucidating, but it seems clear that our attitude has, at times, sent us down a rocky trail.