If the Seattle Sounders are to win MLS Cup this year, they’ll have to beat the odds to do it. That seems only fitting, especially considering their chances of even making the playoffs were once pegged as low as 1.67 percent.
Noted prognosticating website FiveThirtyEight only gives the Sounders a 9 percent chance of winning MLS Cup. That’s fourth highest, but it’s only half as high as the third-best team, Sporting KC, and it’s 14 percentage points below co-favorites Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls.
Perhaps even more notable than their chances of winning the Cup are the relatively low odds they are given of even advancing beyond the Western Conference semifinals against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. At 52 percent, FiveThirtyEight is effectively saying the Sounders’ chances of advancing aren’t much better than a coin flip. While it’s true that only half of the teams who have ever earned a bye into that round have ultimately advanced, every other team in their position has been given at least a 58 percent chance of advancement.
Sports betting site Bovada is even more pessimistic about the Sounders’ chances, pegging them at seventh favorites and offering them at 14:1 odds, behind the likes of FC Dallas, LAFC and New York City FC.
Why might this be? Statistical models have not exactly been high on the Sounders despite their dramatic midseason turnaround. American Soccer Analysis, for instance, pegs them at -6.3 in terms of Expected Goal Difference, and their per-game average hasn’t changed a ton even as their results have.
All of which is probably fine. As Brian Schmetzer has become fond of saying, “I know why we’re playing better, but I’ll let you figure that out for yourselves.”