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Player rating results: When a draw feels like a loss

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Do voters adjust their score for a bad draw? D.C. United was the perfect test case.

Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

This Philadelphia Union season has turned psychological, hasn't it? This team knows that through one-third of the season they had performed as the third best defense in the league. Now they sport the third-worst - and by far the worst defense through the middle third of the season. There have been plenty of mistakes, yes, but also that splendid early season shape is missing. It passed through so quickly like a dream you try to catch when you first wake up. Gone with the shape is that commitment. That commitment that is also so necessary.

What could this change be other than psychological? The players have been remarkably healthy. Some of the players like Josh Yaro and Keegan Rosenberry have even shown growth in their rookie year. Nothing has physically changed with the players, so what remains to explain this change?

In the spirit of psychological woes and the Union's deep need for therapy, this week's player rating results takes a look at the psychology of the draw. You know, the ones like we just experienced - that road point that is supposed to taste sweet, yet tastes like sour wine. For a minute though here are the facts, the results of the fans, pundits and algorithms that watched that painful match.

fan voting week 23

The fan votes are joined by the esteemed Adam Cann from PSP, the computer from Whoscored and Kevin Kinkead from Philly Voice. This week the fans and experts were united. Tranquillo Barnetta was voted MVP not only for his wonderstrike that tied the match but no doubt for his SIX key passes (passes that lead directly to a shot). Quite a game for a, ahem, box-to-box midfielder. This came as a shock to yours truly but this was Barnetta's first overall MVP award this year. Hard to believe. The fans have voted him MVP three times.

This was also the first time that Ken Tribbett was the overall LVP for his 360-kinda-almost-foul move on Taylor Kemp that allowed the first goal. He struggled all night really, but everyone really punishes obviously bad defensive plays. Even though Tribbett just received his first overall LVP, the fans have voted Tribbett the worst player five of the last eight games. Let's bring back Mr. Yaro, eh?

Even though Adam Cann likes the movement and development of Fabian Herbers, the rest of the voters didn't like the Curtin experiment.

Ratings Psychology

They don't call it wisdom of the crowd for nothing, but just how emotional is this group of fans after a game?  Here's a full season chart of the average ratings after a win, draw and loss:

fan voting week 23 wdl

100% is the average score and the 108% score for wins shows that players are rated 8% higher after wins than on average. This doesn't need to be emotional of course, it could simply be that players played better and that's why they won. Now you'd expect a more consistent change for wins and losses like you see by the computer in whoscored. There wins get 4% higher scores and losses get 5% lower scores. You can see the humans rate losses much lower than wins, but the crowd has less variability across results.

Now let's look at the D.C. United heartbreak. The fans treated that one closer to a draw than a loss, but PSP rated the players lower than a loss. Meanwhile, in an odd twist the computer from whoscored liked that game better than a typical win. I added the LA Galaxy draw, which was considered a great game by the Union as they battled back against an MLS titan to earn that draw. The human voters raved about that draw, but the computer was unimpressed. Go figure.

The next Union match is a big one. The team that is chasing the Union for their playoff spot, the New England Revolution, is home against their rival. A win could be a lift for team and a loss will see the pressure ratchet up considerably. And a draw, well, that all depends on how it's earned.