USL Pure Power
This ratings method uses scoring in each individual game, compared to the opponent’s averages, to determine teams’ overall quality. It’s blind to result (W-L-D) but aware of location and score.
Louisville made a huge jump by doing something nobody else had been able to do this season: score multiple goals in Indianapolis. In fact, they scored three! The difference in Indy’s home-field advantage at Lucas Oil versus their playoff home at IUPUI isn’t taken into account, of course.
Meanwhile, Real Monarchs’ 2-1 win at home against a team whose playoff run still only got them up to No. 12 in the league was a good result, though certainly nothing that’s going to change the calculus when it comes to the final rankings.
At this point, a Louisville win is likely to maintain the current order (and provide a very slight boost to everyone in the Eastern Conference numbers-wise, in the first and only inter-conference match of the year), while a Monarchs victory would see those two teams flip positions, and provide a slight boost to everyone in the West. Of course, a lopsided scoreline can change things in a much more significant way, too.
Game to watch
It’s just the one.
- #LOUvSLC (7:30 p.m. EST Sunday). Louisville is a (very slightly) better team on the basis of the entire season, and gets this game at home. However, on recent form, Monarchs have been playing some of their best ball since early September, while LCFC has been more consistent in f its performances (which is mostly a good thing, of course, but in a one-off it can be a negative indicator against a team that comes in hot). The computer doesn’t take into account recent form, though: it’s a full-season résumé.
Computer says: Louisville City FC 2.17, Real Monarchs SLC 1.33
Final MLS regular-season ratings
Using the same methodology as the USL ratings, but with the added benefit of having Expected Goals numbers (as provided by American Soccer Analysis). Those tend to be more predictive – which is the intention of this model, as well. Alas, there are no ASA numbers for the playoffs, so this cuts off at the end of the regular season. I’d actually be pretty interested to see how the playoffs changed the final outcomes.
It’s no surprise that LAFC was the best team in the league – and one of the best in history – but they underachieved fairly significantly according to the discrepancy between xG and strict-goals calculations. Of course, the outliers on either end of the xG spectrum make up those with the greatest delta – by actual goals scored, teams tend to be closer to each other than by the discrepancies in scoring opportunities created.
Chicago Fire and Sporting Kansas City were massive underachievers – your mileage may vary as to whether you philosophically believe that to be strict bad luck or if there’s a finishing problem (on offense and defense, in opposite directions) with those two sides.
In the other direction, Real Salt Lake and DC United overachieved in terms of the results as compared to the scoring opportunities created.