State of the MLS Run In: 8 Weeks to Go

CARSON, CA - NOVEMBER 20: David Beckham #23 of the Los Angeles Galaxy poses for a portrait following the 2011 MLS Cup at The Home Depot Center on November 20, 2011 in Carson, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Previous Week

Finally! We started publishing the odds over a month ago and since then the same roster of 10 playoff teams have been favored to make the playoffs, and by a pretty good margin. In the first edition I pointed out that the best chance at a shakeup was Columbus displacing Chicago. Well, thanks to a good run by the Fire and a dedicated program of consistent losing at DC United, DC swapped in as the team likely to suffer at the Crew's hands (and feet), and now — thanks in large part to Frederico Higuain — the odds of that happening have gone over even and we're predicting that the Crew makes the playoffs, probably at United's expense (though the Dynamo have a decent shot at missing out as well).

It's worth emphasizing how dramatic the Crew's run has been. It's taken four consecutive wins to get them into likely playoff position, all four were by one goal, and in the last three the winner came after the 85th minute — the last two in injury time.

The West is much more stable, with FC Dallas running out of games and Chivas running out of defense. The biggest question for positioning is whether Los Angeles can overtake the stumbling Real Salt Lake for a top 3 spot.

At the bottom, Toronto continues to be favorites for top pick in the MLS draft, with New England pulling ahead of Portland for second.

Playoff & Trophy Probabilities

This is each team's up to date odds of making the playoffs, earning a top 3 spot, winning the Supporter's Shield, and winning the MLS Cup based on simulating the remainder of the season 10000 times.

A fuller explanation of the methodology is available here.

Avg Points Playoff % Change Top 3 % Supporters
Shield %
MLS Cup %
San Jose 64.1 100.0 -- 100.0 72.2 17.8
Kansas City 59.8 99.6 +1.3 89.6 16.7 14.7
Seattle 57.3 100.0 -- 89.6 4.6 15.1
New York 57.1 97.4 +1.2 76.2 3.4 8.7
Chicago 56.4 93.9 +5.1 66.6 2.3 8.7
Real Salt Lake 54.1 100.0 +0.4 60.6 0.2 6.2
Houston 53.6 85.6 -6.6 30.2 0.3 6.0
Columbus 53.1 73.6 +34.5 27.3 0.3 6.2
Los Angeles 53.1 100.0 +0.7 48.8 0.2 13.4
DC United 50.7 47.7 -29.4 10.1 0.0 1.8
Vancouver 46.0 86.8 +2.3 1.0 0.0 1.1
Montreal 45.1 2.2 -5.5 0.1 0.0 0.1
FC Dallas 39.3 6.5 +0.1 0.0 0.0 0.2
Chivas USA 38.3 5.5 -3.5 0.0 0.0 0.1
Philadelphia 37.3 0.0 -0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Colorado 35.3 0.6 -0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Portland 35.0 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0 0.0
New England 32.9 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0 0.0
Toronto FC 29.3 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0 0.0
Avg Pts for Playoffs (W) 46.1
Avg Pts for Playoffs (E) 52.0

Teams Eliminated

Teams that have been eliminated by three decreasingly stringent standards. Read here for more details.

Because the conferences have a widening spread on the number of points needed to make the playoffs, I'm now dynamically determining the cutoff for Effective Elimination. It's now 90% of the projected playoff cutoff for the team's conference, and that leads to two teams being Effectively Eliminated in the East. Also, Toronto is 1 point away from Mathematical Elimination.

  • Mathematical Elimination (Unable to make the playoffs in any scenario)
    None
  • Effective Elimination (Unable to make 41(W)/47(E) points even with perfect play)
    Toronto FC (new), New England (new)
  • Projected Elimination (less than 1% chance of making the playoffs in simulation)
    Colorado (new), Philadelphia, New England, Toronto FC, Portland

Remaining Strength of Schedule

Using the same simulation, we can also determine remaining schedule strength by seeing how a league average team would do with each team's remaining schedule. Teams at the top have schedules against which an average team got the most PPG, meaning we think they have the easiest remaining schedule.

Vancouver moves into the easiest schedule, which will help them hold off Dallas. Houston's next, which should give them relief after a long winless streak. Kansas City's tough schedule is a lot of the reason they're still a rounding error away from locking up a playoff spot.

Avg Team Points Matches Pts / Match
Vancouver 9.494 6 1.582
Houston 10.554 7 1.508
Los Angeles 8.981 6 1.497
Colorado 10.368 7 1.481
Seattle 11.815 8 1.477
New York 10.258 7 1.465
Chicago 11.586 8 1.448
Toronto FC 10.075 7 1.439
San Jose 9.663 7 1.38
Philadelphia 12.31 9 1.368
DC United 9.442 7 1.349
FC Dallas 6.702 5 1.34
Real Salt Lake 7.982 6 1.33
Chivas USA 11.918 9 1.324
Columbus 10.512 8 1.314
Montreal 6.284 5 1.257
Kansas City 8.693 7 1.242
New England 8.57 7 1.224
Portland 9.538 8 1.192

Seattle's First Round Opponent

Mostly stable here as the Galaxy pick up a few points of probability off of Chivas and Dallas as they drop out of the playoff race.

Matchup %
Real Salt Lake 48.7%
Los Angeles 37.7%
Vancouver 11.2%

Cascadia Cup Odds

No Cascadia games in the last week, so no change here. Seattle at Portland is the next match and is likely to shake up these odds in a big way.

Odds
Portland 92.8%
Seattle 7.1%
Vancouver 0.1%

Champions League Odds

48.9%

Seattle's odds drop a few percentage points. The biggest danger is New York passing the Sounders in the overall standings, which would give them priority for any spare CCL slots.

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