Real Salt Lake, and home field advantage in MLS

We all know the superiority of Points Per Match over pure points in a season set up the way MLS set up the 2011 season. For example, while Real Salt Lake is fourth in the overall table, they're second in the PPM table, since they have four games in hand over the Galaxy, Sounders, and FC Dallas. However, this isn't telling the whole story.

While RSL are dominant at home, away from Rio Tinto they have struggled. They've gone 2-2-3 so far this season away from their fortress, and they have yet to travel to LA, Seattle, or New York. Their away PPM is a weary 1.28. Why is this relevant? The four games they have in hand on the top of the table are all away matches.

RSL is on pace to finish with 62 points, finishing as runner-ups for the Supporters Shield behind the Galaxy with 65. But what happens when you factor in the away PPM? Well, not surprisingly, RSL drops. Using a formula explained below the jump, RSL are on a true pace to tie with the Sounders in third place, with 59 points.

The formula used to figure this looks something like this:

{(Away PPM * 17) + (Home PPM * 17)} = True Pace

Using this, we see that, while the Sounders and LA both remain pat (they both have equal home and away games remaining), both RSL and FC Dallas drop slightly in pace. FC Dallas' drop is in the decimals, so they remain on pace for 60, but RSL drops a full three points to go to 59.

That's how home field applies to the SS race, but what about other teams? We all know Sporting KC was given an away-heavy schedule at the beginning of the season to give them time to finish their stadium, so how would their current pace of 44 be affected by the formula? Well, let's plug their numbers in:

{(1 * 17) + (2 * 17)} = 51

While I kind of find it hilarious the numbers have no decimals, it does make the math nice and pretty.Yes, the Wizards gain a full seven points when you apply true pace, which, without using the formula on the other teams, would put them in second place in the East by the end of the year. However, to the readers thinking they might even be able to catapult the Union by my thinking, the Union actually also have played more games away then home, so even their current east-leading pace of 55 is too small.

I don't have near the patience or the technical skills to apply this to all 18 teams, so I don't know how this would possibly effect the playoff scenario. However, it certainly does show the massive effect playing at home has in MLS. It also shows the flaws even PPM has in showing who is truly doing well this season.

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