Behold the woodwork, the impartial arbitrator that effectively determines the fate of a shot, deflection or any other ball that finds itself on a collision course with the fringe of the goalmouth.
But what if the angle of the shot and the English on the ball didn't matter? What if any ball that struck the the post or crossbar (and stayed out) counted just as much as one that rolled into an empty net?
After all, the margin of success and failure for a goalscorer is often measured in fractions of inches, so why not give the attacking side the benefit of the doubt? Well, that's exactly what Opta did, rejiggering the current MLS table by counting any shot that hit the post and failed to cross the line as a goal and adjusting results accordingly.
As you can see below, some teams benefited more than others – Real Salt Lake, the Philadelphia Union and San Jose Earthquakes all rose in the table by four points – while some fortunes barely wavered despite the tweak.
Others, however, have clearly benefited from benevolent posts and crossbars. We're looking at you, Montreal (-7) and Houston (-6), followed by Toronto FC (-4) to a slightly lesser extent.
Where did your team end up? Let us know what you think of this little experiment in the comment section below.
|Real Salt Lake||16||9||4||3||31||+4|
|New York Red Bulls||16||8||3||5||27||+2|
|Sporting Kansas City||15||7||4||4||25||+3|
|San Jose Earthquakes||16||6||4||6||22||+4|
|New England Revolution||15||5||4||6||19||-1|
|Seattle Sounders FC||13||5||3||5||18||-3|