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State of the MLS Run In: 6 Weeks to Go

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In the West it still comes down to Portland and Vancouver, and next year's CCL odds get shaken up by the Sounders' hoisting of the 2014 Open Cup.

Susan Ragan-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Edition

This was another fairly stable week in the playoff races. In the West it's come down to one spot for the Cascadia rivals Portland and Vancouver and this weekend they play each other in a match with massive playoff implications. In the East, New England and New York consolidated their hold on playoff spots with the final places coming down to two of Philadelphia, Columbus, and fading Toronto.

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 %
Seattle W 63.8 100.0 -- 99.7 16.3 61.3 100.0
Los Angeles W 61.4 100.0 -- 97.6 26.0 36.3 94.0
Real Salt Lake W 56.4 99.9 -0.1 75.3 9.4 1.1 51.5
DC United E 56.0 100.0 -- 98.9 13.1 1.0 80.7
FC Dallas W 53.2 99.1 +2.0 26.6 8.1 0.3 21.7
Sporting KC E 52.3 98.7 +3.7 82.6 9.4 -- 28.7
New England E 49.8 89.6 +27.2 54.8 5.0 -- 10.0
New York E 47.3 74.7 +14.4 28.3 3.5 -- 4.4
Philadelphia E 46.0 57.4 -12.3 17.3 3.3 -- 4.0
Columbus 45.7 52.8 -- 14.9 2.7 -- 3.0
Vancouver W 45.1 48.4 +8.1 0.4 1.0 -- --
Portland 45.0 48.4 -3.0 0.4 1.6 -- 1.7
Toronto FC 42.7 18.1 -2.5 2.5 0.5 -- --
Houston 40.1 5.2 -5.7 0.5 -- -- --
Chicago 39.4 3.6 -3.9 0.2 0.1 -- 0.1
Colorado 39.0 2.9 -2.7 -- -- -- --
San Jose 36.6 1.2 -4.4 -- -- -- --
Chivas USA 30.1 -- -- -- -- -- --
Montreal 28.3 -- -- -- -- -- --
Avg Pts for Playoffs (W) 46.9
Avg Pts for Playoffs (E) 46.4

In the chase for the Shield, Seattle had a good week. The Galaxy dropped 4 points on the road to the very weak competition of Montreal and San Jose. That gives the Sounders enough breathing room that they're favored for the Shield now. If they can play well down the stretch and keep their current 3 point lead (made even easier by their game in hand), they'd need only a single draw in the final two-game series with Los Angeles to clinch it, since they likely have the tiebreakers locked up.

Outside the playoff and Shield odds, the big move was in the CCL numbers. Seattle winning their 4th US Open Cup in 6 years locked up a Champions League spot for the Sounders. And the Galaxy benefited nearly as much, as now even if they don't win the Shield (and thus earn one directly) Seattle almost certainly will, with the extra CCL spot from Seattle's two dropping down the standings to LA.

Teams Eliminated

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

Somehow Chivas gets all the credit as the unofficial Worst Team in the League even though the Impact have a worse PPG. Both are still a few points from mathematical elimination, but I wouldn't be surprised if Montreal goes first.

Chivas does finally join Montreal in effective elimination, as their max point total is 42, well below the projected playoff cutoff. And the Earthquakes join the ranks in Projected Elimination, with only a 1.2% chance to make the playoffs at this point.

  • Mathematical Elimination (Unable to make the playoffs in any scenario)
  • Effective Elimination (Unable to make 45 points even with perfect play)
    Chivas TBD (new), Montreal
  • Projected Elimination (less than 2% chance of making the playoffs in simulation)
    San Jose (new), 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.

RSL takes the honor of the weakest remaining schedule in the league, having gotten their game in Seattle out of the way. And it's easiest by a lot. Three of their final 6 are against Chivas and San Jose, but the others are Portland, Vancouver, and Colorado, so they might be playing kingmaker for the final playoff spot. Despite the easy schedule they're not Shield contenders, but they should be safe from the wildcard match.

The Sounders have the toughest remaining schedule with games at New York and at Dallas coming up, but their only real concern is the Galaxy and LA's isn't much easier. The team most impacted by the schedule might be New England, with 4 of their remaining 6 games on the road. And two of their next three are against Columbus. That series will have a big impact on the playoffs in the East.

Avg Team Points Matches Pts / Match
Real Salt Lake 9.653 6 1.609
New York 8.772 6 1.462
Philadelphia 8.716 6 1.453
Portland 8.645 6 1.441
Sporting KC 7.201 5 1.44
Colorado 8.576 6 1.429
Vancouver 8.574 6 1.429
Montreal 8.563 6 1.427
Chivas USA 8.556 6 1.426
Chicago 9.893 7 1.413
Toronto FC 9.859 7 1.408
Los Angeles 8.314 6 1.386
Houston 9.63 7 1.376
Columbus 8.218 6 1.37
DC United 8.097 6 1.349
New England 7.84 6 1.307
San Jose 9.131 7 1.304
FC Dallas 7.224 6 1.204
Seattle 8.372 7 1.196

Cascadia Cup Odds

The Portland/Vancouver matchup this weekend isn't just huge for the playoffs, it's huge for the Cup. A Whitecaps loss at Providence Park means just a draw is enough for Seattle to win more hardware in the final Cascadia game of the season. A Whitecaps win or draw means Seattle would need a home win.

Seattle 70.6%
Vancouver 29.4%
Portland :(

Seattle's First Round Matchup

Seattle pulling away in the Shield race means it's more likely they'd play the winner of the wildcard match, which at this point is more likely to be Dallas, so the odds of that matchup has risen to be about even with the odds of another RSL meeting. Then Portland and Vancouver as either have a chance to come out of the wildcard. A first round LA matchup is almost certainly off the table at this point.

Real Salt Lake 38.4%
FC Dallas 35.9%
Portland 12.5%
Vancouver 9.8%
Los Angeles 2.8%