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
1. New York City FC
2. Toronto FC
3. New York Red Bulls
6. D.C. United
4. Philadelphia Union
5. Montreal Impact
Western Conference Playoff Bracket
1. FC Dallas
2. Colorado Rapids
3. LA Galaxy
6. Portland Timbers
4. Real Salt Lake
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:
|New York City FC||51.54|
|New York Red Bulls||50.13|
|Orlando City SC||39.28|
|New England Revolution||36.83|
|Columbus Crew SC||29.18|
|Real Salt Lake||52.55|
|Sporting Kansas City||45.77|
|San Jose Earthquakes||46.75|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC||40.32|