MLS Cup 2011

Castrol MLS Playoffs Predictor: Explanation

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The Castrol MLS Predictor makes result and scoreline predictions on every MLS match by first evaluating each team's offense and defense. This, together with knowing the structure of the league, then allows us to predict where each team will finish.


Step 1:

We use goals scored and conceded to generate the offense and defense ratings for each team. More recent goals are given greater relevance than those scored longer ago. There is also a home advantage rating, which allows for the fact that clubs score more goals when playing at home.

Step 2:

We then take the offense and defense ratings and convert them to average number of goals scored for Team A vs. Team B.

Home team:

Team A: Offense = 0.8 Defense = 1.1

Home advantage = 1.4

Away team:

Team B: Offense = 1.7 Defense = 0.7

Average number of Team A goals:

0.8 x 0.7 x 1.4 = 0.784

Average number of Team B goals:

1.7 x 1.1 = 1.870


Step 3:

We then feed the average number of goals into a probability distribution model to calculate the likelihood of a team scoring a specific number of goals.

Probability Team A score:

0 goals = 46%
1 goals = 36%
2 goals = 14% etc.

Probability Team B score:

0 goals = 15
1 goals = 29%
2 goals = 27% etc.


Step 4:

Through these percentages we can now calculate the probability of any score. We can then work out the chance of a home win, draw or away win. From these predictions we can determine where a team is likely to finish in the league. Will your team be pushing for the MLS Cup title?