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MLS Race to the Playoffs and Supporters' Shield

By Ted Knutson | July 16, 2013 | Analytics

By Steve Fenn

For those unaware of MLS' basic structure, the league is split into Eastern and Western conferences, with the top 5 in each conference qualifying for the playoffs.  The winner of the playoffs earns the league title, the MLS Cup.

There is also a trophy, the Supporter's Shield, created & funded by fans around the league to mark the best record in the MLS regular season.

The above are representations of minimum points per game needed over each club’s remaining matches to contend for the Supporters Shield or a top three spot in their conference. The second tab does the same for the fourth and fifth seeds, who will have to win 1 match at the 4th seed's stadium in order to meet the 1st seed in the conference semifinals.

The point targets for these achievements come from Monte Carlo simulation run by Zach Slaton (@the_number_game) based on the weighting of Martin Eastwood’s (@penaltyblog) EI Index.

Click the arrows if you think any of these targets are low or high & the graphs will adjust. Because of the methods for setting these targets, they tend to be slightly conservative.

The third tab lays out tiebreakers, which are another MLS diversion from normal football standards. Wins are the first level, goals scored after that, and only if those are tied does goal difference matter.

Article by Ted Knutson