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State of the MLS Run In: 5 Weeks to Go

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More good news for Seattle, bad news for San Jose, and ominous news for Portland in this week's update.

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Previous Edition

The story of the playoff chase continues to be the three-way fight (or even four-way if you believe in Real Salt Lake) for the last two playoff spots in the West. Just a month ago San Jose was at the height of their power, Seattle had lost their 7th in 8, the Timbers were undefeated in four, and it looked like it'd be a Cascadia battle to the death to follow the Earthquakes into the postseason. But Seattle hasn't lost since and the Quakes picked up only 2 points in their last 4 games, reversing their roles. Now after their huge away win over the Shield-leaders, it looks like the Sounders will be comfortably hitting the postseason with momentum while the Timbers and Quakes battle to stay alive, with RSL creeping up from the rear.

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 59.0 100.0 -- 97.5 27.6 66.1 95.8
Vancouver W 55.9 99.9 -0.1 70.9 12.5 13.9 --
FC Dallas W 55.4 99.7 +0.1 60.6 12.2 12.2 66.6
Sporting KC W 52.7 97.2 +10.3 34.4 7.7 3.7 64.0
Los Angeles W 52.7 98.3 -- 20.8 8.0 0.9 27.4
Columbus E 52.5 100.0 -- 44.6 6.4 1.9 29.1
New England E 52.2 100.0 -- 31.7 8.0 0.8 24.9
Seattle W 51.0 94.2 +28.8 12.3 6.0 0.3 18.2
DC United E 50.4 100.0 -- 18.9 3.6 0.2 12.8
Toronto FC E 47.8 98.4 -0.4 0.6 2.7 -- --
Portland W 46.9 55.8 -17.4 1.0 1.4 -- 2.6
San Jose 45.8 28.9 -26.2 0.1 1.2 -- 1.2
Montreal E 45.2 81.8 +1.2 0.2 0.2 -- --
Real Salt Lake 44.6 20.9 +10.5 0.1 0.5 -- 0.6
Houston 41.6 4.0 -4.9 -- 0.1 -- 0.1
Colorado 40.2 1.2 -1.1 -- -- -- --
Orlando 39.9 12.3 +2.3 -- 0.1 -- 0.1
NYCFC 38.8 5.5 +2.4 -- -- -- --
Philadelphia 37.3 1.9 -2.7 -- -- -- 56.6
Chicago 32.7 0.2 -2.8 -- -- -- --
Avg Pts for Playoffs (W) 47.8
Avg Pts for Playoffs (E) 44.6

Outside of that race in the West, not much has changed in the last week. The only other double-digit odds change was Sporting KC moving up thanks to a home win over FC Dallas. The playoff roster in the East seems to be locked in, despite NYCFC hinting at a late season resurgence.

Vancouver's stumble and the Red Bulls' dominant away win over Portland puts New Jersey at 2/3 odds to win the Shield this season, which would be a huge accomplishment for the team that was supposed to collapse in the post-Petke, post-Henry era and in the shadow of the mighty Manchester City Football Club.

Teams Eliminated

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

We have more teams in projected elimination, which was empty last week after Colorado and Real Salt Like climbed out of their respective graves. Now Colorado is back (probably for good this time) and is joined by Philadelphia and Chicago, who can't keep up with Montreal in the East. Chicago is now a single dropped point away from effective elimination, as their max is now 42, which is where we put the very generous cutoff for the East playoffs.

  • Mathematical Elimination (Unable to make the playoffs in any scenario)
    none
  • Effective Elimination (Unable to make 45(W)/42(E) points even with perfect play)
    none
  • Projected Elimination (less than 2% chance of making the playoffs in simulation)
    Chicago (new), Philadelphia (new), 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.

If you're wondering why New York is so heavily favored to win the Shield despite being only a few points ahead of Vancouver, consider their schedule. The Red Bulls have 4 of their last 6 at home, and face such luminaries as Orlando, the Union, and Chicago. Of their remaining opponents, only Toronto and Columbus are any good, and neither is that good. At the other end, the Union have the hardest schedule so good luck getting back in the playoff race. And Portland has the second hardest, which will breathe life into San Jose if the Earthquakes can remember how to win at home.

Avg Team Points Matches Pts / Match
NYRB 9.394 6 1.566
Toronto FC 7.74 5 1.548
San Jose 5.973 4 1.493
New England 5.843 4 1.461
Vancouver 7.296 5 1.459
Seattle 5.813 4 1.453
DC United 5.685 4 1.421
Sporting KC 8.4 6 1.4
Houston 6.961 5 1.392
Orlando 5.545 4 1.386
Los Angeles 5.515 4 1.379
Colorado 6.755 5 1.351
Real Salt Lake 6.703 5 1.341
Columbus 5.34 4 1.335
Montreal 9.318 7 1.331
FC Dallas 7.673 6 1.279
NYCFC 5.104 4 1.276
Chicago 6.304 5 1.261
Portland 6.062 5 1.212
Philadelphia 4.425 4 1.106

Cascadia Cup Odds

It's done! Seattle only needed a draw in Vancouver to win back the Cup, but they went ahead and won 3-0 anyway just to make sure.