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State of the MLS Run In: 6 Weeks to Go

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San Jose's dream run-in turns into a nightmare, while the Sounders continue to overcome a raft of injuries to get back into the playoff race.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Edition

In the last update we were seemingly in the midst of San Jose's ascension to Western Conference contender, but there's nothing like losing at home to Philadelphia to crush your momentum. We said it'd take a real collapse for the Quakes to lose out on that playoff spot — leaving a likely pair of Portland and Seattle to fight over the last golden ticket. But 1 point total in 2 home games has the faint whiff of collapse. And that, along with the Sounders' three game undefeated run and the Timbers' penchant for home draws has lifted Seattle's playoff odds from a coin flip to a healthier 2 in 3.

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 %
NYRB E 58.3 100.0 -- 93.6 23.5 40.4 90.5
Vancouver W 58.2 100.0 +1.1 86.3 18.2 35.3 --
FC Dallas W 56.6 99.6 +10.5 68.1 13.2 18.1 73.9
Los Angeles W 53.7 98.3 -0.4 24.0 10.1 1.9 37.6
DC United E 52.3 100.0 -- 44.8 5.0 1.1 29.8
New England E 52.2 100.0 +1.6 32.2 8.7 1.5 27.0
Sporting KC W 51.2 86.9 -5.0 14.4 5.2 1.2 56.8
Columbus E 50.5 100.0 +0.1 21.0 4.2 0.2 14.2
Portland W 48.8 73.2 +2.6 3.1 2.2 0.2 6.5
Seattle W 48.5 65.4 +26.3 2.0 2.0 -- 4.3
San Jose 48.0 55.1 -24.7 2.1 2.7 -- 5.0
Toronto FC E 47.6 98.8 -1.0 7.5 2.9 0.1 --
Montreal E 43.6 80.6 +17.1 0.9 1.5 -- --
Real Salt Lake 43.2 10.4 +9.3 -- 0.2 -- 0.2
Houston 42.8 8.9 -14.3 -- 0.2 -- 0.2
Colorado 41.3 2.3 -5.3 -- 0.1 -- 0.1
Orlando 37.5 10.0 -0.9 -- -- -- --
Philadelphia 36.1 4.6 -2.6 -- -- -- 54.0
NYCFC 35.4 3.1 -6.9 -- -- -- --
Chicago 34.8 3.0 -7.6 -- -- -- --
Avg Pts for Playoffs (W) 48.1
Avg Pts for Playoffs (E) 43.2

The biggest movers were — as mentioned — Seattle and San Jose. Montreal also begins to lock down a playoff spot as any chance of Orlando or New York overtaking them is slipping away. And FC Dallas' three game winning streak has them close to clinching a spot and they're now ahead of LA in the race for a top two finish and a first round bye.

In the Shield race, the Red Bulls continue to get a huge advantage from playing in the East. As a reminder of the level of stratification, Toronto and Montreal would be longshots to make the playoffs at all in the West, but in the East they'll likely coast into the postseason. New York is feasting on the weaker conference and are nearly even odds to finish with the best record in the league.

We're now just two weeks away from the Open Cup final that'll have a big impact on CCL spots next season. A home win would put a pretty dire Union squad into the competition next season and leave one less spot for the teams at the top of the table.

Teams Eliminated

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

Projected Elimination is the only kind a team can recover from (by getting the playoff odds back over 2%) and weirdly both teams that we've put on that list have, like the walking dead, stood back up and made a nuisance of themselves. First it was Colorado, and now Real Salt Lake is back to kicking around 10%-ish chance to make the postseason. But now the Rapids are just a fraction of a percentage point ahead of the reaper, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see them back on the list in the next update.

  • Mathematical Elimination (Unable to make the playoffs in any scenario)
    none
  • Effective Elimination (Unable to make 46(W)/41(E) points even with perfect play)
    none
  • Projected Elimination (less than 2% chance of making the playoffs in simulation)
    none

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 and San Jose still have disproportionately home-heavy schedules, though in San Jose's case that may not actually be much help. Dallas has been on a tear, but now has the toughest last few games remaining. That's not likely to damage their playoff chances, but it'll make holding onto a top 2 spot harder. And Portland has spurned chances to get points at home and now have a run-in that includes the Red Bulls, Galaxy, KC, and Crew.

Avg Team Points Matches Pts / Match
Toronto FC 10.88 7 1.554
San Jose 9.081 6 1.513
Vancouver 9.019 6 1.503
DC United 7.505 5 1.501
Sporting KC 10.007 7 1.43
New England 8.541 6 1.423
Real Salt Lake 8.52 6 1.42
Chicago 8.463 6 1.41
NYRB 11.151 8 1.394
NYCFC 8.287 6 1.381
Houston 8.152 6 1.359
Montreal 12.183 9 1.354
Orlando 6.682 5 1.336
Seattle 6.602 5 1.32
Los Angeles 6.481 5 1.296
Colorado 7.745 6 1.291
Columbus 6.423 5 1.285
Philadelphia 6.415 5 1.283
Portland 7.67 6 1.278
FC Dallas 8.492 7 1.213

Cascadia Cup Odds

The Cup will finally be decided this weekend in Vancouver. Seattle's recent win over Portland means just a draw will earn them a trophy, but the Whitecaps have been in outstanding form and are legitimate Shield contenders. One lifeline for the Sounders is that Vancouver has a mid-week CCL game against Olimpia and needs to win it to have a realistic chance of staying alive in that competition.

Odds
Vancouver 57.7%
Seattle 42.3%
Portland :(