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What does expected goals for/against tell us about the MLS season so far?

We're almost a quarter of the way through the MLS regular season — crazy to think about, right? 

For the 11 teams who have played eight matches, they are just under the quarter mark of the season. League-leaders LAFC are above that mark with nine games played.  

The sample size is starting to give credence to some of the underlying numbers to kick off the season. What does the league look by way of expected goals for and against? All stats per Opta. 

Top three in xG

Team xG Goals
LAFC 20 25
Sporting Kansas City 15.68 15
LA Galaxy 15.46 13

Surprise, surprise: Bob Bradley's attacking juggernaut lead the league in xG with an astounding 20. Sporting KC and the LA Galaxy are neck-and-neck for second place, while the Chicago Fire are a relatively distant fourth place with 13.74. 

Top three in xGA

Team xGA Goals Conceded
Houston Dynamo 8.06 8
LAFC 8.34 7
New York Red Bulls 8.92 9

The Dynamo have played the joint-fewest games this season with just six, but they have been defensively sound thus far. They have had four of those game at home, it must be noted. 

The Red Bulls have struggled to pick up points, but the underlying numbers suggest last season's top defensive unit have picked up where they left off. 

Top three in xGD

Team xGD GD
LAFC +11.66 18
LA Galaxy +5.34 6
Houston Dynamo +5.16 5

Being that LAFC are first in xG and second in xGA, the club have opened up a sizable lead atop the xGD chart. The +11.66 xGD is well under their actual +18 GD, though, meaning we could see some regression towards the mean in the coming weeks.

The Galaxy and Dynamo round out the top three.

Overperforming?

Team G-xG
Toronto FC +5.76
LAFC +5
Minnesota United +4.25

Some fine finishing has led to Toronto FC scoring 5.76 more goals than expected while LAFC and Minnesota United join the top three. Toronto's xG figure of 12.24 means they would be expected to score that many goals on average based on the quality of their chances.

Underperforming?

Team G-xG
Atlanta United -5.12
New England Revolution -4.53
Columbus Crew SC -2.78

Last year's top attack haven't found the same success in 2019 and the numbers agree, as Atlanta United have five less goals than expected. The New England Revolution, who have had their own well-documented problems with scoring goals, are second. 

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