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State of the MLS Run In: 6 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

MLS play got back into the full swing of things last week after the international break, and it was a week that had a dramatic impact on the state of the league. One of the subtleties of using a simulation to determine probabilities is that some results matter more than others. If a team is very likely to win a game then their average result in a simulation will be quite high — sometimes over 2 points. And if that team then goes on to actually win the game then the difference between reality and our prediction is less than a point, so it doesn't move the needle on the probabilities much. But if a team is very favored to win a game (like say FC Dallas vs New England) then the difference between prediction and reality is over 2 points and can have a much bigger impact on the results. In a week where multiple seemingly unlikely outcomes occur, there can be big shifts in the predictions. This week saw Real Salt Lake beat the Seattle Sounders in Seattle, FC Dallas lose to New England, and the New York Red Bulls get held to a draw at home by the Vancouver Whitecaps. The first means that the Supporter's Shield race is all but done. The first two combine to put Real Salt Lake in the driver's seat for the 3rd position in the Western Conference. And the last changes the picture in the Eastern Conference and the bottom of the wild card standings.

Playoff & Trophy Probabilities

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

Avg Pos Avg Points Playoff % Change Supporters
Shield %
MLS Cup %
Los Angeles 1.13 64.81 100.0 -- 89.32 21.50
Seattle 2.87 57.25 100.0 -- 4.38 12.01
Real Salt Lake 3.02 56.69 100.0 +0.10 5.68 11.02
FC Dallas 3.76 55.18 100.0 -- 0.58 7.59
Kansas City 6.60 48.92 97.16 +8.39 0.0 12.34
Columbus 6.74 49.40 96.34 -1.46 0.02 9.80
Colorado 6.83 48.79 97.72 -0.04 0.00 4.08
DC United 7.52 47.73 87.86 +21.08 0.02 10.83
Philadelphia 8.89 45.17 76.71 -6.36 0.00 5.40
New York 10.30 42.84 61.24 -8.43 0.0 3.10
Houston 10.79 42.61 42.11 -7.31 0.0 1.37
Portland 11.28 42.10 33.24 +7.32 0.0 0.51
Chivas USA 13.08 38.62 9.77 -11.83 0.0 0.37
Chicago 14.40 36.36 2.89 -3.28 0.0 0.02
San Jose 14.51 36.53 2.89 +2.12 0.0 0.04
New England 15.62 34.44 0.46 +0.41 0.0 0.02
Toronto FC 16.23 33.59 0.04 +0.04 0.0 0.0
Vancouver 17.44 29.99 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0
Avg Pts for Playoffs 43.24

Teams Eliminated

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

  • Mathematical Elimination (Unable to make the playoffs in any scenario)
    None
  • Effective Elimination (Unable to make 40 points even with perfect play)
    None
  • Projected Elimination (less than 1% chance of making the playoffs in simulation)
    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.

Avg Team Points Matches Pts / Match
Colorado 7.58 5 1.516
Toronto FC 7.42 5 1.484
FC Dallas 8.771 6 1.462
DC United 12.884 9 1.432
Seattle 8.576 6 1.429
Portland 9.903 7 1.415
Chicago 9.687 7 1.384
New England 8.249 6 1.375
Vancouver 9.62 7 1.374
New York 9.543 7 1.363
Kansas City 8.163 6 1.36
Los Angeles 8.136 6 1.356
Houston 8.035 6 1.339
Chivas USA 7.91 6 1.318
Real Salt Lake 10.451 8 1.306
Philadelphia 9.115 7 1.302
Columbus 9.055 7 1.294
San Jose 8.62 7 1.231

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).

Matchup %
Real Salt Lake 45.7%
FC Dallas 23.4%
Colorado 4.9%
Los Angeles 4.2%
New York 4.1%
Houston 4.0%
Philadelphia 3.4%
Portland 3.3%
DC United 2.0%

Cascadia Cup Odds

This is the % chance for each of the Cascadia teams of winning the rivalry cup.

Odds
Seattle 64.66
Portland 19.91
Vancouver 15.43