Analytics-focused Sporting Kansas City to deploy TRACAB’s optical tracking at home games


Andre Cohen

MLS club Sporting Kansas City has entered into a three-year agreement to install TRACAB’s optical tracking system at Children’s Mercy Park to capture player position data during home games. New analytics will be featured on the team’s match broadcasts and the data will be used by the club’s coaching staff to optimize in-game strategy and player performance.

TRACAB’s Gen-5 camera system captures over 3.5 million data points per match, such as player sprint speeds, distances covered and time on the ball. TRACAB is owned by Chyron, whose Coach Paint video analysis software is already used by Sporting KC. The German Bundesliga and the Spanish La Liga also use TRACAB.

“[TRACAB will show us] the distances between the players, the distributions around the pitch, the spacing when you’re attacking or defending,” Sporting KC assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin told SportTechie. “were [also] using wearable devices from STATSports that will help monitor our players’ workload in training. I think this will be the first year that we can receive two sets of data and the reliability of both will be very interesting as they are related to each other.

Sporting KC games this season will be shown locally on 38 The Spot, which replaces Bally Sports as the team’s regional partner. Matches will also be streamed for free on the team’s mobile app and website, where fans can view on-screen graphs of ball movement and player data from TRACAB. Advanced wearables and computer vision camera tracking systems are a far cry from Zavagnin’s MLS playing career as a midfielder for Kansas City from 2000 to 2008, when he says heart rate monitors were the pinnacle of technology used by the teams.

“I think you always have to tread carefully between advances in sports science and traditional methods of game assessment to make sure you don’t paralyze yourself with analysis,” Zavagnin says. “It’s the right balance as we move forward with the science and technology of the sport, to make sure we always understand that it’s 11 players on each team with one ball trying to score in two goals.”