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State of the MLS Run In: 10 Weeks to Go

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The good get better and the bad get worse. There are no major shakeups since the last update, just the cold hand of impending doom.

Previous Edition

The theme of this week's edition is games in hand. The Galaxy look comfortable in their perch on top of the Western Conference, but it's really Kansas City who sit pretty with a full four games in hand on the defending champions. And in the East DC has been out in front seemingly all season, but New York has the better goal differential and the better points per game and is favored to finish ahead of United.

Playoff & Trophy Probabilities

This is each team's up to date odds of making the playoffs, earning a top 3 spot, winning the Supporters' 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-2 % MLS Cup % Shield % CCL %
Sporting KC W 59.7 99.8 +1.9 79.7 16.2 43.9 90.4
NYRB E 58.0 100.0 +0.8 91.2 23.5 22.5 81.2
Vancouver W 57.2 99.4 +1.7 61.0 15.2 15.2 --
DC United E 55.7 100.0 +0.1 83.9 9.5 9.0 64.9
Los Angeles W 55.3 99.3 +7.3 29.9 12.5 4.8 49.8
FC Dallas W 52.7 93.3 -4.2 17.2 5.4 2.6 26.9
Portland W 51.6 93.8 +20.6 10.7 4.3 1.5 20.8
Toronto FC E 48.4 94.5 -3.8 12.4 3.5 0.3 --
Columbus E 47.8 92.1 +14.3 7.2 3.1 0.2 6.9
Seattle W 46.8 55.6 +7.3 1.0 1.2 -- 2.8
New England E 46.1 85.0 +19.0 1.9 1.6 -- 2.2
Montreal E 45.7 80.4 -10.4 3.4 2.2 0.1 --
San Jose 44.2 26.2 -1.3 0.4 0.5 -- 1.1
Houston 43.9 28.0 -2.1 0.1 0.6 -- 1.0
NYCFC 39.3 22.8 +0.4 0.1 0.4 -- 0.5
Real Salt Lake 38.7 3.7 -22.0 -- -- -- --
Orlando 38.1 13.7 -18.7 -- 0.2 -- 0.2
Colorado 36.9 1.1 -8.0 -- -- -- --
Chicago 35.9 6.8 +0.9 -- 0.1 -- 0.1
Philadelphia 35.4 4.7 -2.6 -- 0.1 -- 51.2
Avg Pts for Playoffs (W) 47.6
Avg Pts for Playoffs (E) 43.5

No changes in the composition of the projected playoff field after two weeks, as the red line seems to be getting a little thicker. Seattle's newfound form with Obafemi Martins back and Portland's consistency means getting into the playoff race in the West is going to be an even taller order for Houston and San Jose. And in the East, Orlando looks to be in the thick of it as they're tied with the Impact for the last playoff spot, but they've played four more games than Montreal and anything but a Canadian collapse would likely leave Orlando out.

The biggest jump in playoff odds is Portland's. The Timbers have been one of the league's hottest teams over the past couple of months and have erased the early season form that looked like it'd make this a lost season. In the other direction, Real Salt Lake's season looks suddenly, brutally over. In the space of a few days they were kicked out of the US Open Cup and lost at home in injury time to turncoat Nat Borchers. Now they are trying to make up a six point gap on rising Seattle despite the worst goal differential in the West.

The Shield race is being led by the aforementioned teams with games in hand, and there's about a 2/3 chance it either returns to 2013 winners New York or goes to Kansas City, who've had some good recent seasons but haven't won the Shield since the days of the Wiz.

At the bottom end of the table, Philly still have something to play for. They host the US Open Cup final against Sporting, which gives them better than even odds to play in next season's CCL. Other CCL hopefuls hope that game goes to KC, who'd almost certainly get a spot anyway, leaving another CCL slot to trickle down the table.

Teams Eliminated

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

Last week we put Chicago on watch for our first team in projected elimination. But the brutally competitive West means it's Colorado that goes over that cliff first. Still, they're far from mathematically eliminated and could theoretically get up to 57 points if they win out, but come on.

  • Mathematical Elimination (Unable to make the playoffs in any scenario)
    none
  • Effective Elimination (Unable to make 42 points even with perfect play)
    none
  • Projected Elimination (less than 2% chance of making the playoffs in simulation)
    Colorado (new)

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.

Toronto still has the easiest schedule, with 8 of their remaining 11 games at home. Then comes Vancouver, with 6 of 9 at home and two of their three road games against non-playoff teams. The hardest schedule is FC Dallas', which may help Seattle clamber over them in the West standings. The second hardest is NYC's, as they still have @Galaxy, @DC, and @Vancouver on the schedule.

Toronto FC 18.084 11 1.644
Vancouver 13.652 9 1.517
San Jose 16.208 11 1.473
NYRB 16.001 11 1.455
Montreal 18.218 13 1.401
DC United 11.185 8 1.398
Real Salt Lake 13.965 10 1.397
Los Angeles 11.172 8 1.396
New England 12.444 9 1.383
Columbus 13.645 10 1.364
Philadelphia 12.278 9 1.364
Seattle 12.249 9 1.361
Houston 13.411 10 1.341
Colorado 14.649 11 1.332
Orlando 11.883 9 1.32
Portland 11.835 9 1.315
Chicago 14.377 11 1.307
Sporting KC 16.904 13 1.3
NYCFC 12.987 10 1.299
FC Dallas 14.081 11 1.28

Cascadia Cup Odds

No Cascadia action since the last update, but the Whitecaps' continued excellent play pushes their odds of retaining the Cup a little higher. In two weeks Seattle hosts Portland, and if the Sounders win they'd only need a draw in the final Cascadia matchup in Vancouver.

Odds
Vancouver 67.0%
Seattle 33.0%
Portland :(