The possession game: does it really help you win games?

"I plan to bring a defensive style to the team that cedes possession, allows our opponents to dictate the pace, and waits for an opportune counterattacking chance."

Said no incoming coach, EVER.

So none of us should be surprised to hear Caleb Porter say, " . . . we must move towards being a proactive and attack-oriented team that is looking to dictate games with possession and high-pressure defending," even if we didn't know his history (see the full Portland Timbers interview with Porter here if you haven't already).

But given that historically, the team that wins possession in MLS more often loses the game, I'm still wanting to know what statistics show this. I'm not saying Porter is wrong---I think he has something legitimate that he bases that statement on.

But I'm having trouble finding those stats.

I have a theory, but I can't find the stats I need to prove it. My theory is this:

TIME ON THE BALL is key. When you don't have the ball, you don't get real game experience with passing and dribbling. You can't build your team's offensive confidence and chemistry when you're only seeing the ball in short, fast windows of time where only 3-4 players get touches.

You still need the right players to make it work. Obviously, teams like Colorado, Toronto FC and New England, played to dictate the pace and still struggled to get onto the winning track. For them, playing a more defensive, counterattacking style might have been able to get them a few more wins than they had, but ultimately, their problems won't be solved without addressing deficiencies in the squad or other strategic issues.

Maybe, if you have the players to be a winning squad in MLS, you are best going into most of your games aiming to possess the ball as much as possible, if you want to realize your full potential over the long haul. It seems that while there are a lot of bottom-feeder teams trying to win defensively and failing, there are not many top-level teams that cede possession more often than not. Even SKC, a team who's strengths were mostly defensive last year, won the possession game often--sometimes by large margins.

Does anyone else have any thoughts, or better, yet, statistics, that would shed some light on the issue of possession, and why it's important to the bigger picture (or not)?

Alright guys, I don't believe I have to say this but, just in case, please do not submit anything racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise not appropriate for even the younger Timbers fans.

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