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State of the MLS Run In: 2 Weeks to Go

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As the regular season winds down I'm going to be posting a weekly summary of the some of the data and predictions we're generating, which should give you some context going into each week of games.

Previous Week

We're in the calm before the storm as the mostly-observed FIFA international break meant that there were only 3 games played since our last update. But those games weren't without consequence in the standings, as two of them combined to seal the top two spots in the Western Conference and the league. The Seattle Sounders' home loss to the Philadelphia Union ended the perfect run that Seattle would have needed to win the Supporters Shield, so Los Angeles claims it for the second season in a row. And Real Salt Lake's eventful loss to Vancouver means Seattle has both hands and nine toes on the second seed. To lose it they'd have to fail to get a point in their last two matches and Real would have to win out (without captain Kyle "Zinedine" Beckerman).

The Union's away win also gives them a big advantage in the quest for a top seed in the tightly packed Eastern Conference. The third match of the week — between San Jose and New England — was mostly meaningless unless you're a fan of one of those franchises (in which case, my condolences). It did turn the competition for worst record in the league into a bit of a race as Vancouver now has a decent shot at finishing not-last.

Playoff & Trophy Probabilities

This is each team's up to date odds of making the playoffs and winning the MLS Cup based on simulating the remainder of the season 10000 times. To reflect the fact that the Supporters Shield is now decided and there's still some question about the wild cards, I've replaced the Shield odds with the odds of getting a top-3 seed in the conference (and thus avoiding a wild card match).

Avg Pos Avg Pts Playoff % Change Top 3 % MLS Cup %
Los Angeles 1.00 67.15 100.0 -- 100.0 29.44
Seattle 2.00 60.15 100.0 -- 100.0 15.58
Real Salt Lake 3.17 53.96 100.0 -- 92.58 7.70
Philadelphia 4.93 50.04 100.0 +4.10 98.60 12.51
FC Dallas 5.35 50.11 99.67 -0.11 6.49 4.46
Kansas City 6.72 47.93 97.15 -0.20 78.25 9.44
Colorado 6.97 47.99 97.04 -0.48 0.93 4.19
New York 8.83 45.58 77.43 -2.09 37.51 5.44
Columbus 8.93 46.28 77.09 +0.78 38.11 4.12
Houston 9.59 45.44 64.93 -0.12 22.70 2.62
DC United 10.20 44.38 48.73 -2.18 22.59 3.28
Portland 11.32 43.66 26.02 +0.34 0.0 0.79
Chicago 12.28 41.60 11.94 +0.04 2.24 0.79
Chivas USA 14.19 38.05 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0
San Jose 14.59 37.60 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0
Toronto FC 16.12 33.60 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0
New England 17.25 29.48 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0
Vancouver 17.57 28.63 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0
Avg Pts for Playoffs 45.11

Teams Eliminated

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

No teams eliminated this week. Chicago has a chance at elimination this week if they don't beat FC Dallas, though they're actually likely to hold on longer no matter what happens.

  • Mathematical Elimination (Unable to make the playoffs in any scenario)
    Chivas USA, San Jose, Toronto, New England, Vancouver
  • Projected Elimination (less than 1% chance of making the playoffs in simulation)
    Chivas USA, San Jose, New England, Toronto FC, Vancouver

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.

These don't change much from last week with so few teams playing. Notably Philadelphia's schedule gets much easier with the game in Seattle out of the way. DC United and Chicago have the two easiest schedules in the league (though DC have to play twice as many games as nearly everyone else). That's bad news for Houston, who they're both chasing for the last playoff spot and who have a much more difficult schedule with an away match at Jeld-Wen and a home match against the Galaxy. That final match will be one to watch as Los Angeles will have little incentive to get a result having already won the Supporters Shield and yet it may determine the final playoff team.

Avg Team Points Matches Pts / Match
DC United 6.274 4 1.568
Chicago 4.494 3 1.498
Colorado 2.977 2 1.488
Toronto FC 2.955 2 1.478
Philadelphia 2.931 2 1.466
New England 2.893 2 1.447
Seattle 2.879 2 1.44
Vancouver 4.308 3 1.436
Real Salt Lake 2.82 2 1.41
FC Dallas 4.186 3 1.395
San Jose 2.766 2 1.383
Kansas City 2.733 2 1.367
Los Angeles 2.593 2 1.297
Portland 3.883 3 1.294
Houston 2.441 2 1.221
New York 2.408 2 1.204
Columbus 2.336 2 1.168
Chivas USA 2.073 2 1.036

Seattle's First Round Opponent

This is the likelihood of each team being the first playoff opponent for Seattle (either in the preliminary round or — more likely — in the Conference Semifinals).

Real Salt Lake's loss keeps the door open slightly for FC Dallas to steal the 3 seed in the west. Slightly.

Matchup %
Real Salt Lake 92.60%
FC Dallas 6.50%

Cascadia Cup Odds

Seattle won the 2011 Cascadia Cup