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State of the MLS Run In: 3 Weeks to Go

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Few major changes in the odds this week as the contenders for the Shield and final playoff places either all won together or all lost together.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Edition

The Shield race remains neck and neck. This week the Galaxy picked up a commanding home win. Seattle picked up a commanding road win. Advantage: Sounders. Seattle now takes a lead in the contest for the #1 seed thanks to their tiebreaker and getting a road win out of the way.

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, earning a (US) CCL bid, and winning the MLS Cup based on simulating the remainder of the season 10,000 times. A fuller explanation of the methodology is available here.

Avg Pts Playoff % Change Top 3 % MLS Cup % Shield % CCL %
Los Angeles W 64.3 100.0 -- 100.0 31.4 40.8 100.0
Seattle W 64.3 100.0 -- 100.0 15.9 59.2 100.0
DC United E 56.4 100.0 -- 100.0 12.4 -- 94.3
Real Salt Lake W 54.3 100.0 -- 76.2 9.8 -- 47.6
FC Dallas W 52.5 98.1 -1.6 22.8 6.2 -- 16.6
New England E 52.1 99.6 +7.1 83.6 6.3 -- 18.1
Sporting KC E 50.7 98.1 +2.9 69.6 8.0 -- 14.2
New York E 49.0 88.7 +15.8 33.9 4.0 -- 4.6
Vancouver W 47.0 51.3 +0.3 0.2 0.7 -- --
Columbus E 46.7 58.0 -6.4 6.6 2.2 -- 2.2
Portland 46.5 50.7 +1.9 0.7 1.9 -- 2.0
Toronto FC 45.3 41.4 -6.9 5.9 0.8 -- --
Philadelphia 43.0 10.8 -7.9 0.3 0.3 -- 0.3
Houston 41.2 3.5 -4.4 0.1 0.1 -- 0.1
Chicago 36.8 -- -0.1 -- -- -- --
Colorado 35.7 -- -0.3 -- -- -- --
San Jose 33.8 -- -0.2 -- -- -- --
Chivas USA 30.3 -- -- -- -- -- --
Montreal 29.2 -- -- -- -- -- --
Avg Pts for Playoffs (W) 47.9
Avg Pts for Playoffs (E) 46.9

In the playoff races, we're in a holding pattern and the predicted roster of playoff teams remains the same as last week. There were some losses among playoff teams, but only those for whom it didn't really matter. RSL lost, but their risk of dropping into the wildcard game didn't go up thanks to a loss by Dallas, who themselves are in no danger of dropping out of the playoffs. The races of interest here are still the Shield and the Cascadian fight to the death over the final playoff spot. Wins by both Portland and Vancouver kept that a coinflip.

In the East, Columbus is right on the redline and lost, but so did Toronto behind them and the Union are far enough behind that their draw didn't help them. So the soon-to-be-rebranded Crew are still favored to make the postseason. All that losing at the bottom consolidated the position of New York, who barely beat bottom-feeders Houston and have a reasonable (about 1/3) chance to get into the top three, likely at the expense of defending champion Sporting KC.

Teams Eliminated

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

Lots of teams fell into the chasm of mathematical elimination this week, especially in the west where the Timbers and Whitecaps are now winning to keep the playoff race tight instead of losing to keep it tight. That takes out both San Jose and Colorado, thanks to their home loss to Seattle. And in the East, Chicago finally gives up their dream of drawing their way into the postseason.

  • Mathematical Elimination (Unable to make the playoffs in any scenario)
    Chicago (new), Colorado (new), San Jose (new), Chivas, Montreal
  • Effective Elimination (Unable to make 46 points even with perfect play)
    Chicago (new), Colorado, San Jose, Chivas TBD, Montreal
  • Projected Elimination (less than 2% chance of making the playoffs in simulation)
    Chicago, Colorado, San Jose, Chivas TBD, Montreal

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.

Again, Seattle and LA have two of the three hardest schedules thanks to the fact that they have to play each other twice. Their non-mirror-matches are Vancouver at home for Seattle and Dallas on the road for LA. Advantage Sounders. Columbus has their own pair of mirror matches with Philadelphia and then has the Red Bulls on the road in a match with huge playoff implications for both them and Toronto.

RSL slips into the easiest schedule with a pair of home games against Chivas and San Jose, which is nice for them because they haven't been playing well.

Avg Team Points Matches Pts / Match
Real Salt Lake 4.901 3 1.634
Sporting KC 4.808 3 1.603
New York 4.726 3 1.575
Chivas USA 4.687 3 1.562
Montreal 4.642 3 1.547
Portland 4.35 3 1.45
Toronto FC 5.798 4 1.45
Houston 5.789 4 1.447
Colorado 4.31 3 1.437
Vancouver 4.187 3 1.396
Philadelphia 4.084 3 1.361
Chicago 4.065 3 1.355
FC Dallas 4.063 3 1.354
San Jose 5.245 4 1.311
DC United 3.934 3 1.311
New England 3.923 3 1.308
Seattle 3.866 3 1.289
Columbus 3.493 3 1.164
Los Angeles 3.257 3 1.086

Cascadia Cup Odds

Cascadigeddon has arrived! Friday we find out who brings home the 2014 Cascadia Cup. The sim says Seattle's a pretty good bet. They're greatly helped by the fact that a draw wins the Cup, though it would be a disappointing result in the Shield race.

Odds
Seattle 80.3%
Vancouver 19.7%
Portland :(

Seattle's First Round Matchup

Not a lot of change here. RSL still favored as the most likely matchup, but they're getting pretty close to even with Dallas. This mostly comes down to whether Seattle wins the Shield or not.

Odds
Real Salt Lake 42.4%
FC Dallas 35.2%
Portland 13.4%
Vancouver 9.0%