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State of the MLS Run In: 5 Weeks To Go

FC Dallas and Columbus are running out of time to move into playoff position, while Chicago and Los Angeles storm their way into the Top 3.

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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 % Supporters
Shield %
MLS Cup %
San Jose 66.3 100.0 -- 100.0 88.2 22.6
Kansas City 61.0 100.0 +0.5 97.6 8.0 14.8
Chicago 60.3 99.9 +0.7 92.4 3.7 13.3
Seattle 56.2 100.0 -- 82.1 0.1 11.9
New York 56.2 97.5 -1.9 58.2 0.1 7.4
DC United 55.1 90.3 +24.7 36.3 0.0 6.4
Los Angeles 54.9 100.0 -- 67.8 0.0 12.5
Real Salt Lake 54.1 100.0 -- 50.1 0.0 4.9
Houston 53.4 85.2 -9.2 13.4 0.0 4.3
Columbus 50.9 27.1 -14.1 2.2 0.0 0.9
Vancouver 44.1 78.3 -6.7 0.0 0.0 0.5
Montreal 43.7 0.1 -0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0
FC Dallas 40.8 20.7 +8.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Philadelphia 36.5 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0 0.0
Colorado 36.2 0.5 -0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Chivas USA 34.0 0.4 -1.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Portland 33.4 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0 0.0
New England 33.0 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0 0.0
Toronto FC 26.7 0.0 -- 0.0 0.0 0.0
Avg Pts for Playoffs (W) 44.4
Avg Pts for Playoffs (E) 53.0

Vancouver continues to keep the roster of playoff teams in the West somewhat in doubt by generously refraining from winning any of their past 6 games and keeping FC Dallas somewhat in the hunt. The standings make it look very tight, with FCD only two points back with the same number of games played and 4 remaining, but our model shows their shot as pretty tenuous. Both teams have 3 of their last 4 at home. FC Dallas still has to play San Jose, but they also get Chivas twice. Maybe two points is just a lot harder to make up in 4 games than you might think.

In the East, DC United seems to have pulled out of their funk at perversely the same time that their best player was lost for the season. Ewing effect, maybe. So the playoff question is whether Columbus can catch up with slumping Houston. Again, the standings show it tight with a 1 point gap, but we give Columbus only a 1 in 4 chance of making it. That's more clearly a result of the schedule, as Houston finished with 4 non-playoff teams, but Columbus still has DC United away and Sporting Kansas City.

In playoff position jockeying, Chicago has roared into an almost certain top 3 spot and has a decent chance of unseating Sporting for top of the East. New York's most likely to come in third, though DC has a shot if they keep up their recent play. In the West, the Galaxy are looking like the best team in MLS right now (yeah, better even than San Jose) and look like a very good bet for second, which would leave Seattle and RSL to fight over third. In either case that's bad for Seattle's CCL chances as Chicago and possibly LA, New York, and DC pass them up for at large bids.

Toronto's midseason resurgence under Paul Mariner is well and truly dead and at this point they're running away with last place, projected to finish 7 points behind the pack of New England, Portland, and Chivas.

The gap between the East and West playoff cutoffs is as large as it's been all season at nearly 9 points. If a wild card system were still in place, Columbus would be a near lock for the playoffs at Vancouver's expense.

Teams Eliminated

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

No new mathematically eliminated teams this week, but Philadelphia is one loss away from the abyss. And even a draw would get them to Effective elimination.

  • Mathematical Elimination (Unable to make the playoffs in any scenario)
    New England, Toronto FC
  • Effective Elimination (Unable to make 40(W)/48(E) points even with perfect play)
    Toronto FC, New England
  • Projected Elimination (less than 1% chance of making the playoffs in simulation)
    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.

Houston jumps ahead of Vancouver to get the easiest remaining schedule, which could help them stave off Columbus. It's interesting that the two teams currently in 5th position have the easiest remaining schedules. Dallas has one of the toughest, but that's largely because of a San Jose game this weekend. Things get much easier after that. Los Angeles has gone through an easy stretch that saw them jump up in the standings, but now things get a little tougher. After Colorado away they play three other playoff teams to close out the season.

Avg Team Points Matches Pts / Match
Houston 6.747 4 1.687
Vancouver 6.433 4 1.608
Colorado 6.344 4 1.586
Chivas USA 7.695 5 1.539
Seattle 7.53 5 1.506
New York 6.004 4 1.501
Columbus 5.857 4 1.464
Toronto FC 5.647 4 1.412
Montreal 4.048 3 1.349
Kansas City 5.331 4 1.333
Chicago 6.573 5 1.315
San Jose 5.232 4 1.308
Portland 5.169 4 1.292
Real Salt Lake 5.123 4 1.281
Los Angeles 5.065 4 1.266
FC Dallas 4.885 4 1.221
DC United 4.875 4 1.219
Philadelphia 7.165 6 1.194
New England 4.313 4 1.078

Seattle's First Round Opponent

LA remains about even odds to face Seattle in the first round. The odds of facing Vancouver have doubled, and that's not a sign of the Whitecaps getting better, it's a measure of the risk of Seattle dropping into the 4th spot and having to play in the mid-week playoff round.

Matchup %
Los Angeles 49.9%
Real Salt Lake 32.2%
Vancouver 13.8%

Cascadia Cup Odds

No change this week, but things are sure to get shaken up before the next installment, when Seattle travels to play Vancouver. If Seattle wins, they tie Portland at 8 points with a home game against the Timbers remaining to vie for the cup. If the Sounders lose, Portland retains a 3 point lead with a game in hand and could clinch the cup with a draw in either of their two matches.

Portland 68.9%
Seattle 30.6%
Vancouver 0.5%

Champions League Odds


Seattle's odds take a big drop as the top of the table gets increasingly crowded and the Supporters Shield moves out of reach. Getting into CCL without reaching the final is a remote possibility for now.

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