Splitting Hairs: Home/Away Splits & Projecting 2013 Playoffs

Dom says draw back and prepare for the long haul as Montreal romps Houston 5-0 in Montreal - Francois Laplante

If the Fire are going to get into the playoffs, they will have to break their current home/away record pace

Montreal embarrassed Houston on Saturday pouring on a 5-0 score line. Most of the Fire fans I saw relished the Impact's win as the Dynamo stayed closer to the Fire in the standings with the loss. It's apparently better for Houston to be at 36 points to our 34 points while Montreal goes on to 41 points instead of Houston going to 39 points and Montreal staying at 38 points. That may be the case if the MLS Regular Season finish line was near. However, we are still far and the race ahead might be better viewed as an obstacle course along the lines of Guts Mountain Aggro Crag than a straight 400 Meters at the Olympics. What scheduling obstacles can your team dodge on the way to the finish?

MLS Eastern Conference Standings

# Club PTS GP PPG W L T GF
1 Montreal Impact 41 24 1.71 12 7 5 41
2 New York Red Bulls 39 26 1.50 11 9 6 38
3 Sporting Kansas City 39 26 1.50 11 9 6 36
4 Philadelphia Union 38 26 1.46 10 8 8 37
5 New England Revolution 36 25 1.44 10 9 6 34
6 Houston Dynamo 36 24 1.50 10 8 6 29
7 Chicago Fire 34 24 1.42 10 10 4 30
8 Columbus Crew 29 25 1.16 8 12 5 29
9 Toronto FC 21 25 0.84 4 12 9 22
10 D.C. United 14 25 0.56 3 17 5 15

Here are the current Eastern Conference standings to orient the new, the ones who have tuned out since Friday night's victory, and the MLS addicts alike. The Fire are less than 6 points behind the 2nd place tie Kansas City and New York have going on. Chicago has 2 games in hand on both but with a 5-point gap, this is not a good thing. One of my pet peeves in MLS is hearing about games in hand and how valuable they are.That's true if a team is a point or two behind and has a game or two in hand. It's not really true here with Kansas City and New York on Chicago. The Fire have 6 scenarios their 2 games in hand could go (win-win, win-draw, win-lose, draw-draw, draw-lose, lose-lose). Only one of these scenarios would take the Fire above Kansas City and New York. In most scenarios, Kansas City and New York have done their work and the Fire are more likely to lose ground than take advantage of this so-called opportunity.

That said, this weekend worked out very well for Chicago as they defeated SKC at home and Chivas USA defeated New York in Los Angeles. The Fire have a great chance to leapfrog the Dynamo when Houston comes to town this Sunday. This would put Chicago a point ahead of New England who added more drama to the Eastern Conference race by defeating Philadelphia 5-1 at home.

It might seem add to see decent teams like Philadelphia and Houston get thrashed on the road but such is the Jekyll & Hyde nature of MLS. Some teams are more Jekyll & Hyde than others.That's why places like Saputo Stadium and BBVA Compass Stadium can feel like Temples of Doom. It helps to take teams as they are if you know it's not a facade, just a transformation teams take from week to week. Here's what MLS would look like if teams were split up into home and away records.

# Club HOME/AWAY PPG W L T GP
1 LA Galaxy HOME 2.36 8 1 2 11
2 Montreal Impact HOME 2.31 9 1 3 13
3 San Jose Earthquakes HOME 2.23 8 1 4 13
4 Seattle Sounders HOME 2.18 7 1 3 11
5 Real Salt Lake HOME 2.08 8 2 3 13
6 Portland Timbers HOME 2.08 7 1 4 12
7 Vancouver Whitecaps HOME 2.08 8 2 3 13
8 FC Dallas HOME 2.00 7 1 5 13
9 New York Red Bulls HOME 2.00 7 2 3 12
10 Houston Dynamo HOME 2.00 7 2 3 12
11 Chicago Fire HOME 1.92 8 4 1 13
12 Colorado Rapids HOME 1.79 7 3 4 14
13 Philadelphia Union HOME 1.69 6 3 4 13
14 Sporting KC HOME 1.62 6 4 3 13
15 New England Revolution HOME 1.62 6 4 3 13
16 Columbus Crew HOME 1.50 5 4 3 12
17 Sporting KC AWAY 1.38 5 5 3 13
18 Real Salt Lake AWAY 1.29 5 6 3 14
19 New England Revolution AWAY 1.25 4 5 3 12
20 Philadelphia Union AWAY 1.23 4 5 4 13
21 Colorado Rapids AWAY 1.17 3 4 5 12
22 Chivas USA HOME 1.15 4 6 3 13
23 Portland Timbers AWAY 1.08 2 3 8 13
24 Seattle Sounders AWAY 1.08 4 7 1 12
25 New York Red Bulls AWAY 1.07 4 7 3 14
26 LA Galaxy AWAY 1.00 4 8 2 14
27 Montreal Impact AWAY 1.00 3 6 2 11
28 Houston Dynamo AWAY 1.00 3 6 3 12
29 Toronto FC HOME 1.00 2 4 6 12
30 FC Dallas AWAY 0.85 2 6 5 13
31 Columbus Crew AWAY 0.85 3 8 2 13
32 D.C. United HOME 0.85 3 8 2 13
33 Chicago Fire AWAY 0.82 2 6 3 11
34 Vancouver Whitecaps AWAY 0.75 2 7 3 12
35 Toronto FC AWAY 0.69 2 8 3 13
36 Chivas USA AWAY 0.50 1 8 3 12
37 San Jose Earthquakes AWAY 0.46 1 9 3 13
38 D.C. United AWAY 0.25 0 9 3 12

Is this too small of a sample size? For example, what if a key player was out for no home games but some away games? What if the best teams have drawn the worst teams in their conference for their 2 home games and 1 away game scheduling? What if a Western Conference team has drawn all the farthest East teams for their 5 Eastern Conference opponents? The problems with traveling in MLS have been documented. These are valid concerns but here's two (three?) quick facts for you: Frank Klopas has 2.00 PPG at home and a 1.13 PPG on the road in his coaching career and the Fire have a long road game to Seattle on the schedule. If nothing else this is a continuing trend for Frank Klopas. The Fire can't gloss over the long-trip idea. We'll get to opponent's PPG.

Here is the projection of the final 2013 MLS Standings if the Home/Away splits of this year continue and you work against the remaining games this year. This does not take into account the quality of opponent. Merely if the game is home or away.

Eastern Club Current Points Projected Points Projected Finish
Montreal Impact 41 15.23 56.23
New York Red Bulls 39 13.21 52.21
Houston Dynamo 36 15.00 51.00
Sporting KC 39 12.00 51.00
Philadelphia Union 38 11.69 49.69
New England Revolution 36 12.71 48.71
Chicago Fire 34 12.60 46.60
Columbus Crew 29 10.88 39.88
Toronto FC 21 7.77 28.77
D.C. United 14 4.63 18.63
Western Club Current Points Projected Points Projected Finish
LA Galaxy
40 17.18 57.18
Real Salt Lake
45 12.16 57.16
Seattle Sounders 37 18.51 55.51
Portland Timbers 39 14.72 53.72
Colorado Rapids 39 11.19 50.19
FC Dallas 37 11.38 48.38
Vancouver Whitecaps 36 12.06 48.06
San Jose Earthquakes 34 10.46 44.46
Chivas USA 21 7.12 28.12

Here is how I got my numbers: Chicago's Home PPG 1.92 * 4 remaining home games + Chicago's Away PPG 0.82 * 6 remaining games + Chicago's current points in the standings = Projected Finish. Repeat for every team in the league, using their home/away averages, and one gets the numbers above.

The Home/Away splits do not favor Chicago getting into the playoffs in the slightest. These numbers also demonstrate why Montreal getting 3 points on Saturday might not have been in the Fire's best interest. It would be better to have Montreal down in the muck and Houston just atop of it with about 54 points. History suggests Houston is just too strong at home to be counted out.

This Home/Away split projection has Montreal running away with the East while the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake face a photo finish for the Supporters' Shield.

If there is any positive information for Fire fans to draw from this data it might be that the Fire have somewhat of a fairly easy schedule down the stretch.

Club Remaining Opp PPG
Montreal Impact 1.47
Philadelphia Union 1.40
New England Revolution 1.32
Chicago Fire 1.28
Houston Dynamo 1.26
New York Red Bulls 1.26
Sporting KC 1.22

Unfortunately these numbers continue to demonstrate that a Houston win on Saturday would have been best. Montreal will face the the toughest competition down the stretch but that may not matter since they are 7 points ahead of Chicago. The Fire are right in the middle of the pack although fairly close to New England, Houston, and New York.

Breaking the Pace

Here are the remaining games for each team. I've highlighted 3 games that present the biggest opportunities for teams to go big. The games in Italics are the games that would break the pace if they lost them.

Chicago Fire
vs HOU - 1.00
@ SEA - 2.18
@ TFC - 0.69
vs NE - 1.25
@ CLB - 0.85
vs MTL - 1.00
@ DC - 0.85
@ FCD - 2.00
vs TFC - 1.00
@ NYRB - 2.00

Chicago will finish the season with two brutal match-ups at Dallas and New York. If the Fire are to make the playoffs, they will almost certainly need to win the home games vs. HOU and NE. They can't slip up against the teams below them in the East. A win against Seattle and/or Dallas would be a game changer.

Houston Dynamo
@ CHI - 1.92
@ CLB - 1.50
vs NYRB - 1.07
@ PHI - 1.69
vs CHV - 0.50
@ NE - 1.62
vs MTL - 1.00

vs SKC - 1.38
vs NYRB - 1.07
@ DC - 0.85

A Dynamo victory at Toyota Park this weekend would really drive a stake in the Fire's playoff chances. Finish well in these next two games and Houston figures to coast down their home friendly schedule.

Montreal Impact
@PHI - 1.69
@NE - 1.62
vs CLB - 0.85
vs VAN - 0.75

@CHI - 1.92
@HOU - 2.00

vs NE - 1.62
@LA - 2.36
vs PHI - 1.23
@TFC - 1.00

If Montreal really struggles with their road games and doesn't capitalize on their few home games, they won't be walking away with anything. This is a tough group of matches to finish this year. Lucky for them they have a large advantage.

New England Revolution
@TFC - 1.00
vs MTL - 1.00
@CHI - 1.92
vs DC - 0.25
vs HOU - 1.00
@NYRB - 2.00
@MTL - 2.31

vs CLB - 0.85
@CLB - 1.50

New England faces a tough finish but they could fatten up in their next 5 games. An upset of the Fire in Chicago would go a long way to increasing their odds.

New York Red Bulls
vs DC - 0.25
@HOU - 2.00
vs TFC - 0.69
vs FCD - 0.85
@SEA - 2.18
vs NE - 1.25
@HOU - 2.00
vs CHI - 0.82

Chivas USA might have embarrassed the Red Bulls yesterday but blame the jet lag effect. Five home games against some weak competition means New York can likely go pointless in Seattle and Houston and still coast into the post-season. An away win should be a clincher.

Philadelphia Union
vs MTL - 1.00
@SJ - 2.23
vs HOU - 1.00
@SKC - 1.62
vs TFC - 0.69
@DC - 0.85

@MTL - 2.31
vs SKC - 1.38

The Union have struggled but their remaining schedule somewhat mirrors New York's. Three very tough road games and 5 seemingly cupcakes even if one of them is at D.C. United.

Sporting KC
vs COL - 1.17
vs CLB - 0.85
@TOR - 1.00

vs PHI - 1.23
@CLB - 1.50
@HOU - 2.00
vs DC - 0.25
@PHI - 1.69

Sporting KC's big challenges might be lesser than some of the other clubs here but Colorado and Philadelphia at home could pose a challenge especially with both teams trying to secure a playoff berth. Kansas City has the lowest remaining opponent PPG but that might be a mirage. A lot should be riding on their 3rd final game of the season against Houston.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Hot Time In Old Town

You must be a member of Hot Time In Old Town to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Hot Time In Old Town. You should read them.

Join Hot Time In Old Town

You must be a member of Hot Time In Old Town to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Hot Time In Old Town. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9353_tracker