I decided to run with a 20-game extrapolation (instead of 19) per a request from Dave. I included the 30-game extrapolation just for grins, with the caveat that I'm not a fan of extrapolating out that far (more on this later)
|team||points||matches||GD||PPM||20 game||30 game|
If you remember a few weeks ago I got into a little debate about the Sounders' chances at the playoffs. In the aftermath of the 4th of July loss to the Galaxy, when the Sounders were sitting at 15 points through 15 matches, I said that we needed to see at least 23 points by the end of the month before we could even Begin to discuss playoffs. Well, mission accomplished, plus some, but unfortunately, one look at the table above shows that 10 points over 4 matches - the hottest stretch in MLS over that time - still leaves us "out of the playoffs" based on PPM.
What we have accomplished, however, is we have Significantly closed the gaps to the teams immediately ahead of us. If anything, we have decidedly jumped a layer in the MLS strata (more on this later), from "out" to "in contention" which may not seem like much at first, but when you think back to how deep a hole we were in on July 5th, its certainly worth regarding.
I posted a comment to the PPM standings posted back on July 18th in which I laid out how much the Sounders could improve their league positioning if they beat Colorado, San Jose, and Houston. Lets go into the wayback machine and revisit some of those numbers:
this was the 30-game extrapolation based on the July 18th PPM standings, places 6-11 (this was before I settled on the idea I had last week to just extrapolate to the most games played in the League table). All you need to do is compare this to the League table above to see just where we have come in the last 2 matches. Yeah, we've only climbed 1 place, but a gap that was once nearly 14 points to #6 is now less than 4!
Now, about this "strata" idea. I come from a point of view that linear rankings (like in college football) don't make much sense, since the distribution of quality amongst teams in a league or group rarely follow that neat linear pattern (this being one of MANY problems with the college football system). In this case, I like to "stratify" the teams into layers. Granted, there will still be an arbitrary delineation between the layers, but looking at it like this gives a better view. In that light, here are my "strata" for the MLS currently:
Supporter Shield contenders: 1) Galaxy, 2a) RSL, 2b) Crew
knocking on the door: 4a) Dallas, 4b) NYRB note: Dallas hasn't lost in 8 league matches, 4 wins 4 draws in that stretch!
playoff contenders: 6) San Jose. 7) Rapids, 8) Toronto, 9) Chicago, 10) Seattle
outside looking in: 11) Houston, 12) Wizards, 13) Chivas, 14) Philly, 15) Revs
forget about it: 16) DCU
It really speaks to the parity of this league that only 1 team is truly out of it, DC. N.E. and Philly have a bit of a climb and are only marginally in a group with Houston , but I also just wanted to keep this to 5 layers, breaking along obvious gaps in the extrapolated numbers.
Having said all that, I have one last little bit to share. It's turned into "dork central" a bit around here the last few days, and of course i have my contribution. I have decided to add a few columns to the PPM/extrapolated table. I started by looking at how many points each team had earned in their last 4 matches (I chose 4 as a compromise between 3, a number I felt better indicated the "trend" a team was on, and 5, a larger sample set but I felt like 5 matches ago is a veritable eternity). I then determined how much those last 4 matches affected a teams PPM. In the case of LA, , 4 matches ago they stood at 36 points through 15 played, good for 2.4 PPM; they currently sit at 40 points through 19 played, good for 2.105 PPM. This means that the last 4 matches have brought their PPM down by -0.295, worst in MLS over that stretch. In the case of the Sounders, their 10 points in 4 matches has increased their PPM by 0.316, best in the MLS over that stretch:
|team||last 4||trend||trend 30|
the last column merely attempts to extrapolate the current trend out to 30 games by adjusting the "normal" 30-game PPM extrapolation (in the first table above). Its certainly not a panacea, and I'm not sure of the way I'm calculating it even myself, but in the spirit if what we've seen the last couple of days, I just thought I'd put in my 2 cents!
This "trend" number certainly sheds more light on my "strata" idea, although we all know fortunes can change in the blink of an eye. I would say that trends of between -0.1 and +0.1 aren't necessarily very significant, since only taking 4 matches introduces "noise" to the system, and renders too much importance on the last match played. However, there are some certain things to notice, such as Chivas (+.290) Colorado (-.281) NYRB (-.258) and the aforementioned Galaxy and Sounders.