It's already time to start the countdown clock, friends. It may seem a little early, but keep in mind that when I ran the probabilities with 11 weeks to go last season, the sim called the playoff teams. The most likely teams to make the playoffs at that point were the ones who made it. Other than the Columbus Crew, who made a good run to only miss the postseason by 1 point, no non-playoff team had more than a 10% chance to make it. With 11 weeks to go! This season promises to be much more tense, but it's still not too early to check out the odds.
For those unfamiliar, I run a Monte Carlo simulation of the season by giving each a team a weighted random chance to win each remaining match. The weights are based on the team's recent performance and take into account the opponent's quality and home field advantage.
A fuller explanation of the methodology is available here.
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, earning a CCL bid, and winning the MLS Cup based on simulating the remainder of the season 10,000 times.
|Avg Points||Playoff %||Top 3 %||MLS Cup %||Shield %||CCL %|
|Real Salt Lake||W||56.0||95.0||78.8||16.3||21.8||66.5|
|Avg Pts for Playoffs (W)||49.5|
|Avg Pts for Playoffs (E)||49.6|
Note that the CCL% there is the odds of getting one of the four US spots in the competition, so the Canadian teams are automatically excluded. And you can also clearly see that the US Open Cup (and the CCL berth it comes with) is the only thing DC United has to play for at this point (and probably Chicago as well). It's also interesting to note that the number of points to get into the playoffs is pretty much the same in the East and West. I had thought the West would be much tougher, but after last week's results, and given that the West teams have to beat up on each other a bunch toward the end of the season, it looks like the Conferences are pretty equal.
You can also see the race for the final two spots in the West is going to be intense. Right now we're projecting Seattle, Vancouver, Dallas, and Colorado to finish within a single point of each other. A single dropped point somewhere along the way may mean missing out on the playoffs, a fact that adds extra import to the Sounders' match against Dallas this weekend.
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.
LA has the easiest schedule remaining, which explains a lot of why their playoff odds look so high compared to the other four clustered West teams even though they're close in the standings now. At the other end, Colorado and Vancouver have the hardest remaining schedules and FC Dallas is in the top half. That should give the Sounders a bit of an edge in the playoff push.
|Avg Team Points||Matches||Pts / Match|
|Real Salt Lake||15.649||12||1.304|
Cascadia Cup Odds
I'm using a better implementation of the Cascadia Cup sim this season. Instead of using only Cascadia games as input (which is obviously a very small sample size) I'm using the teams' full season performance, which is a much better reflection of a team's quality.
Currently, despite Seattle's home field advantage this season, I have the Timbers as small favorites to retain the Cup, just based on their Supporters' Shield contending form in the league. The next Cup match is this weekend when the Timbers host the Caps. An away result by Vancouver would likely put Seattle in the lead again, but I'll just say that the Whitecaps' history in doing Seattle a favor in the Cup competition has been disappointing and leave it at that.