Major League Soccer can do some odd things with the schedules. Sometimes a team or two get adjusted due to a CONCACAF Champions League Final. Other times you will see a team or two start with extra road games. Seven teams have already played nine games (this was week 8), and one has already played 10. Yes, that's the Seattle Sounders with two double weeks and so nearly a third through the season, even though this is the quarter pole on average.
While some would use games in hand as a balance, this often leads to the assumption that a poor performing team has the chance to collect points as if they didn't already suck. Take Sporting Kansas City for example. They have yet to perform well, should we really assume that the 4 games in hand that they have on Seattle will all be wins? Probably not, though they do have the advantage that they will have extra home games late in the year, and by a lot.
Here we tend to like Points Per Match. Jeremiah is throwing together a sidebar widget so you can look at that at any time (and you really should check out the sidebars we have a ton of data there). But right now, at this quarter pole for the league (again on average) is a chart of the league by PPM. Also included is "form" by last five matches and which teams would make the playoffs by PPM right now. Blue being the Western Conference and Red for the East. The Wild Cards are in Grey.
|Real Salt Lake||2.50||15||6||5||1||0||9||2||7||12|
|New York Red Bulls||2.00||14||7||4||1||2||10||2||8||10|
|Los Angeles Galaxy||1.67||15||9||4||2||3||11||9||2||8|
|Seattle Sounders FC||1.30||13||10||3||3||4||12||10||2||8|
|New England Revolution||1.11||10||9||2||3||4||8||12||-4||4|
|San Jose Earthquakes||0.71||5||7||1||4||2||6||10||
|Sporting Kansas City||0.67||4||6||1||4||1||10||13||-3||1|
One should note that only six teams have a goal differential greater than +/- 3, and more of those are poor than good. There is a lot of parity in the league as always, but two teams have risen above the rest. Some of the bad goal differential teams have offset their blowouts with a few narrow wins, most notably the Portland Timbers who would have a protected Playoff berth by PPM with a negative goal differential.