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State of the MLS Run In: 4 Weeks To Go

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With the season winding up to the playoffs, the two division leaders pull away and the two playoff hopefuls remain only hopeful. We also look at 2013 Champions League odds for the whole table.

Stephen Dunn - Getty Images

Previous Week

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, and winning the MLS Cup based on simulating the remainder of the season 10000 times.

A fuller explanation of the methodology is available here.

Avg Points Playoff % Change Top 3 % MLS Cup % CCL %
San Jose 65.3 100.0 -- 100.0 21.1 99.3
Kansas City 62.4 100.0 -- 99.8 16.3 100.0
Chicago 59.0 99.6 -0.3 83.0 11.4 47.6
New York 57.4 99.3 +1.8 74.5 9.0 36.1
Real Salt Lake 56.1 100.0 -- 72.7 7.8 24.9
Seattle 55.8 100.0 -- 74.7 11.1 31.6
DC United 55.1 85.9 -4.4 27.7 5.2 16.6
Los Angeles 54.6 100.0 -- 52.6 10.9 26.1
Houston 54.4 87.5 +2.3 12.9 5.1 13.4
Columbus 52.1 27.8 +0.7 2.1 1.0 2.7
Montreal 43.7 0.0 -0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0
Vancouver 43.5 71.9 -6.4 0.0 0.4 0.0
FC Dallas 41.2 28.0 +7.3 0.0 0.5 1.7
Colorado 35.7 0.0 -0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0
Philadelphia 35.7 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0 0.0
Portland 32.6 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0 0.0
Chivas USA 32.6 0.1 -0.3 0.0 0.0 0.0
New England 32.3 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0 0.0
Toronto FC 25.9 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0 0.0
Avg Pts for Playoffs (W) 43.9
Avg Pts for Playoffs (E) 53.9

Only four weeks remain, my droogies! 31 matches stand between us and the milk and honey of the postseason. The stable of likely playoff teams remains the same as last week's and is the same set of teams we've projected for the postseason since we first started doing these this season. The only interruption to that private party was a one week stretch when Columbus were favored to make it in over DC United, but United have recovered even without captain Dwayne De Rosario. Now the Crew's best bet is to make it in over Houston, but the Dynamo handled New England at home this week in the driving rain to keep the Crew behind the pack. In the West, Vancouver continues their run of not-wins to keep things interesting for FC Dallas, but the Toros' own late draw prevents them from gaining any ground.

This week I took the Supporters Shield odds out of the main table, since it's now only relevant for a small handful of teams. I've replaced it with a column for the odds of a 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League spot. I'm only looking at US spots, so Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto FC are all at 0. And obviously Kansas City gets a spot for their US Open Cup win. Otherwise, 10 teams have somewhere between a 0 and 100% chance of a spot, based on their odds of winning the Shield, making the final, or of inheriting a spot based on table position. Currently the odds on favorites are the Sporks, San Jose, Chicago, and New York, which is a pretty promising group of US representatives.

The gap between the West and East for points needed for the playoffs has now reached 10 points, which leads to the perverse possibility that Vancouver will become the first Canadian team to make the MLS playoffs while still finishing with fewer points than expansion Montreal.

Teams Eliminated

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

Philadelphia reaches mathematical elimination with their loss to Columbus. Montreal is a single dropped point away, but has reached effected elimination. Still no mathematically eliminated teams in the West thanks to Vancouver's generosity, but Chivas and Portland are on the brink, with the Timbers reaching effective elimination and Chivas projected elimination, leaving just Dallas chasing the Whitecaps.

  • Mathematical Elimination (Unable to make the playoffs in any scenario)
    Philadelphia (new), New England, Toronto FC
  • Effective Elimination (Unable to make 40(W)/49(E) points even with perfect play)
    Montreal (new), Portland (new), Philadelphia (new), Toronto FC, New England
  • Projected Elimination (less than 1% chance of making the playoffs in simulation)
    Chivas USA (new), Montreal, Colorado, Philadelphia, New England, Toronto FC, Portland

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.

Colorado takes over the easiest schedule, but it's too late for it to do them any good. Houston's next, which should help usher them into the playoffs. Then Vancouver, but they've had an easier schedule for weeks now and haven't taken advantage. San Jose and Kansas City have a couple of the harder schedules, but they've pulled out far enough in the Supporters Shield race that they won't be caught there or in their divisions.

Avg Team Points Matches Pts / Match
Colorado 4.918 3 1.639
Houston 4.83 3 1.61
Vancouver 4.808 3 1.603
Toronto FC 4.774 3 1.591
Seattle 6.364 4 1.591
Chivas USA 5.926 4 1.481
FC Dallas 4.265 3 1.422
New York 4.144 3 1.381
Chicago 5.471 4 1.368
Columbus 4.075 3 1.358
Los Angeles 4.017 3 1.339
Montreal 4.015 3 1.338
DC United 3.898 3 1.299
Philadelphia 6.198 5 1.24
New England 3.653 3 1.218
Real Salt Lake 3.652 3 1.217
Kansas City 3.621 3 1.207
San Jose 3.512 3 1.171
Portland 3.397 3 1.132

Seattle's First Round Opponent

Vancouver's chances creep up and FC Dallas creeps back in the picture as the odds of Seattle finishing 4th go up. But the bigger change is the swap between RSL and LA, with the Lakers now at about even odds and LA at about a quarter, odds nearly reversed from last week.

Matchup %
Real Salt Lake 47.4%
Los Angeles 27.3%
Vancouver 16.6%
FC Dallas 8.7%

Cascadia Cup Odds

The Cup chase reaches its climax this week as Seattle missed out on a chance to move into the driver's seat by drawing Vancouver. The draw officially eliminated the Whitecaps, though their chances were already slim. This weekend the Cup could well be decided when the Timbers travel to Seattle. The Sounders hope not and that a win over Portland will continue the competition to the Portland/Vancouver match, where a Vancouver result could keep the Cup in Seattle hands.

Portland 69.1%
Seattle 30.9%
Vancouver 0.0%