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State of the MLS Run In: 8 Weeks to Go

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Oh, Canada. Both Toronto and Vancouver tumble down the playoff probabilities and threaten to join the abject Montreal Impact in the bottom of the MLS barrel.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Edition

The Landon Donovan farewell tour is certainly going well, both for whatever closet he keeps weird gifts in and for the Galaxy in the standings. Their 'away' win over Chivas and hammering of DC United vaulted them over Seattle in the predictions for best record and the Shield. It's not that the Sounders haven't been winning themselves. . they've just been grinding out results against bad teams while the Galaxy are a wrecking crew. For more details, read on!

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 61.7 100.0 +0.1 97.2 23.9 49.3 83.2
Seattle W 61.1 100.0 -- 96.7 15.0 37.6 81.3
DC United E 57.7 100.0 +0.1 99.6 15.9 7.9 83.2
Real Salt Lake W 55.6 99.4 +0.2 64.1 9.8 3.2 31.3
Sporting KC E 53.5 99.1 -0.6 92.1 10.0 0.9 31.6
FC Dallas W 53.4 97.6 -1.5 38.9 9.2 1.2 20.3
New England E 45.8 62.4 +30.6 27.2 2.7 -- 3.5
Portland W 45.7 52.1 +30.1 1.7 2.4 -- 2.7
Toronto FC E 45.6 60.8 -21.5 25.2 2.1 -- --
Vancouver 44.7 37.4 -26.4 1.4 0.8 -- --
New York E 44.5 52.1 -10.7 18.7 2.6 -- 2.7
Columbus 44.4 49.1 -19.1 16.0 2.4 -- 2.6
Philadelphia 43.7 44.8 +2.7 14.9 2.1 -- 56.5
Chicago 41.2 20.8 +10.6 4.5 0.7 -- 0.8
Colorado 40.2 7.5 -2.0 -- 0.1 -- 0.1
Houston 39.7 10.8 +8.0 1.8 0.2 -- 0.1
San Jose 38.4 5.9 -0.3 -- 0.1 -- 0.1
Chivas USA 33.2 0.1 -0.3 -- -- -- --
Montreal 30.1 -- -- -- -- -- --
Avg Pts for Playoffs (W) 47.4
Avg Pts for Playoffs (E) 45.2

After a few weeks in a row of only slight changes in the playoff odds and no changes in the makeup of the predicted 10 playoff teams, everything's suddenly gone sideways -- with Canada taking the brunt of the damage. Both Vancouver and Toronto tumbled down the ladder, to the benefit of Portland and New England respectively. For the Whitecaps, their home loss to the Timbers was a head to head 6 pointer for the last playoff spot in the West and now they're on the outside looking in. Toronto's still projected to make the playoffs, but the high spending team that was recently a Shield contender has tumbled down towards the red line and has just fired their head coach, suggesting it may be #Time4Panic.

Outside of those four teams the movement in the playoff odds was pretty minor, with Chicago edging back up to get a glimpse of a playoff race and both Columbus and the defending Shield winner New York dipping down to even odds to make the playoffs.

As mentioned, in the Shield race it's all coming up Galaxy. Seattle has a two point edge in the standing rights now, but LA has an easier schedule and is trucking teams right now. It's currently about a 90% chance that the Shield goes to either the Sounders or the Galaxy, with DC United fading out of a chance to make it a three team race.

Teams Eliminated

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

Still far away from mathematical elimination, and Montreal's win over Columbus keeps them just ahead of the effective elimination line. Only a matter of time, though... And San Jose's draw with RSL keeps them hanging around. They're still at single digit playoff odds, but high enough to avoid projected elimination.

  • Mathematical Elimination (Unable to make the playoffs in any scenario)
    None
  • Effective Elimination (Unable to make 44(E)/46(W) points even with perfect play)
    None
  • Projected Elimination (less than 2% chance of making the playoffs in simulation)
    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.

Still a bucket of Eastern Conference teams with the easiest schedules, but Real Salt Lake edges up with by far the easiest Western schedule, with 5 of their 8 games remaining against non-playoff teams, including 2 against Chivas. They've drifted too far out of the Shield race for it to matter there, but it'll give them a chance to fend off Dallas for a top 3 spot and the opportunity to avoid the wild card game.

Seattle has the third hardest schedule remaining, which includes two games against the Galaxy. Unless someone stumbles hard early, the Shield is very likely to be decided in those two matches.

Avg Team Points Matches Pts / Match
Philadelphia 13.541 9 1.505
Real Salt Lake 11.764 8 1.471
Houston 13.174 9 1.464
New York 12.993 9 1.444
New England 12.95 9 1.439
Columbus 11.367 8 1.421
Los Angeles 12.68 9 1.409
Chicago 12.551 9 1.395
Portland 11.102 8 1.388
Vancouver 12.48 9 1.387
Toronto FC 13.798 10 1.38
Chivas USA 12.322 9 1.369
Sporting KC 10.704 8 1.338
Montreal 12.002 9 1.334
Colorado 10.645 8 1.331
DC United 10.388 8 1.298
Seattle 11.591 9 1.288
San Jose 12.824 10 1.282
FC Dallas 9.964 8 1.245

Cascadia Cup Odds

The Timbers' win over the Whitecaps in Vancouver didn't just shake up the playoff race. It was also the Whitecap's last remaining home match in the Cascadia Cup race. They still have a game in hand on Seattle but are a point behind. Which means no matter what happens in the reminaing Portland/Vancouver match, a win over the Caps in Seattle in October wins the Cup for Seattle. And if Vancouver loses that game in Portland, then even a draw in Seattle means the Sounders earn back the Cup.

Odds
Seattle 70.6%
Vancouver 29.4%
Portland :(

Seattle's First Round Matchup

Big movement toward RSL in Seattle's first round matchup. As the odds of LA taking the top seed go up, the likelihood of a Seattle/RSL 2 vs 3 series increases.

Odds
Real Salt Lake 42.0%
FC Dallas 30.9%
Portland 12.0%
Vancouver 7.4%
Los Angeles 5.6%
Colorado 1.1%
San Jose 1.0%