Why Sporting KC could be the most dangerous West team | Expected Goals

The Western Conference picture for the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs is even less clear than it was before Sunday's matches. Though four teams locked up playoff spots, none of the top five teams are locked into a playoff seed.

One team that has to rue their results from the past couple of weeks has to be Sporting Kansas City, who drew 0-0 with the Houston Dynamo on Sunday after losing 2-1 to Houston on Wednesday. Sporting KC have not won any of their last four matches, but could still get a bye into the Conference Semifinals with a win in their next match. Of course, they will have to travel to a desperate Real Salt Lake side on Decision Day presented by AT&T to accomplish that.

There is some reason for hope, however, for the 2017 U.S. Open Cup champions. Though they've been unable to get results recently, it's not due to their ability to create chances or to stop their opponents from creating them. Over their previous five games, Peter Vermes' team actual goal differential is vastly different than their expected goal differential.

xG Goals xGA Goals Against xGD Goal Differential
9.49 4 4.18 5 5.30 -1

While their actual goals against closely mirror their expected goals against, their goals for figures are vastly different. Based on the quality of chances they have created over their previous five games, Sporting KC would have been expected to score 9.49 goals. They have actually scored just four.

Not having a proven goal-scorer could be a reason for this discrepancy, but we'd need more data to prove such a case. In reality, this should probably strike fear into their potential playoff opponents as the team could be ready to convert the high-quality chances they're creating.

With that, we'll dive into the xG numbers from Week 31 and 32. A couple of important notes before looking at the numbers: Penalties have a value of 0.79, and own goals are not factored into the values.

Game Result Home xG Away xG
Atlanta United vs. Minnesota United FC 2-3 .99 1.53
New York Red Bulls vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 3-0 1.83 .15
Minnesota United FC vs. Sporting Kansas City 1-1 1.06 2.83
Colorado Rapids vs. FC Dallas 1-1 1.06 .84
Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting Kansas City 2-1 1.00 1.21
Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union 3-2 2.13 .89
Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact 1-0 1.83 2.26
New England Revolution vs. New York City FC 2-1 2.20 .64
Orlando City SC vs. Columbus Crew SC 0-1 .75 2.33
New York Red Bulls vs. Atlanta United 0-0 1.28 .96
Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo 0-0 2.41 .78
Portland Timbers vs. D.C. United 4-0 3.65 .73
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 1.52 1.10
Colorado Rapids vs. Real Salt Lake 1-0 .36 2.02
Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas 4-0 2.43 .55
LA Galaxy vs. Minnesota United FC 3-0 .68 1.15
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