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Rudy Calderon/MLSsoccer.com

Red Line Report: Who has the easiest schedule for the rest of the season?

It's been a wild MLS season and after five and a half months of play, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. More importantly, every team is trying to get above the red line.

FC Dallas, the Colorado Rapids and the LA Galaxy have set themselves apart at the top of the Western Conference and Supporters' Shield standings. At the bottom of the West, it appears there are five teams fighting for two spots, including all three Cascadia teams.

In the East it is a bit simpler. There are five teams (New York City FC, Toronto FC, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union, Montreal Impact) that are all but assured of playoff spots, with the sixth spot completely up for grabs. The first five teams will also be jockeying for position to capture a CONCACAF Champions League berth as the top team in the conference, and a bye into the conference semifinals.

If the regular season ended today ...

Eastern Conference Playoff Bracket

Conference Semifinals

1. New York City FC

Conference Semifinals

2. Toronto FC


Knockout Round

3. New York Red Bulls

VS.

6. D.C. United

Knockout Round

4. Philadelphia Union

VS.

5. Montreal Impact

Western Conference Playoff Bracket

Conference Semifinals

1. FC Dallas

Conference Semifinals

2. Colorado Rapids


Knockout Round

3. LA Galaxy

VS.

6. Portland Timbers

Knockout Round

4. Real Salt Lake

VS.

5. Sporting Kansas City

Strength of Schedule and Expected Points

The strength of schedule metric takes into account the average points per game (PPG) that each team's oppponents earn at home and on the road. The lower the PPG, the easier the schedule.

For example, if FC Dallas traveled to play the LA Galaxy, who have averaged 2.5 PPG at home, and then hosted the Vancouver Whitecaps, who have averaged 1.53 PPG on the road, their opponents' PPG would be 2.02.

The Expected Points metric is strictly based off of what teams have done up to this point. For example, New York City FC have collected 1.42 points per game at home this season and 1.62 on the road. So if they continue averaging those totals, with five more home games left and four more road games, they should be expected to hit 51.54 points.

Here are both the Strength of Schedule and Expected Points rankings for each conference:

TEAM EXPECTED POINTS
New York City FC 51.54
Toronto FC 54.09
New York Red Bulls 50.13
Philadelphia Union 48.17
Montreal Impact 49.45
D.C. United 39.41
Orlando City SC 39.28
New England Revolution 36.83
Columbus Crew SC 29.18
Chicago Fire 29.36
TEAM EXPECTED POINTS
FC Dallas 60.37
Colorado Rapids 61.05
LA Galaxy 55.64
Real Salt Lake 52.55
Sporting Kansas City 45.77
Portland Timbers 42.50
San Jose Earthquakes 46.75
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 40.32
Seattle Sounders 39.28
Houston Dynamo 32.07
Series: 
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