mls Nashville SC

MLS Power Ratings (and more!): Oct. 16, 2020

Welcome to the latest edition of the MLS Power Ratings. For a brief overview of methodology, check out last week’s post, for more detail feel free to reach out on social media or email me.

The 10,000-foot view: teams’ ratings are an average of their game scores, which are themselves the expected goals (or for Power G, just the goals) normalized for opponent and location. Data from American Soccer Analysis.

The table

This week, I introduce the Bogert Index, which is just a subjective emoji associated with the luck factor (difference between xG and Goals power ratings). Or in one case it’s a virus emoji.

Seattle remains the top team in all the land, and despite being the unluckiest in terms of finishing (Miami has been almost as snake-bit, but nobody else is close) isn’t so far off when it comes to the strict goals for-against numbers, either.

A weird week with a ton of top teams drawing or even losing to lower-table teams shook things up quite a bit. Philadelphia remains a basically average team, but is the luckiest squad in the league by an incredible margin. Similarly (but starting from a different point), Montreal is quite awful, but has received the benefit of good luck.

For the local side, Nashville drops a spot after the midweek slate of games, but it’s a little misleading: Houston ran up a decent xG number last night when the game was well out-of-hand, and never really posed a legitimate threat to make the comeback. Gamestate effects (Nashville was very happy to let Houston shoot a bunch as long as they were all mediocre shots – those still add up) were real in that one. In part because of events like that, NSC has transitioned from the unluckiest team in the league a few weeks ago to one that’s a little on the lucky side. Again, worth noting we’re dealing with a narrow definition of “luck” here.

Nashville’s defense has, however, dropped off a cliff in the past few weeks. The nature of the game against Houston is again a factor, as was the short-handed situation in Kansas City, but the xG-against numbers have been getting worse for a little while now. Trusting Joe Willis to outperform his xGA numbers – he’s allowing only 85% of the number of goals you’d expect, third in the league behind only Matt Turner and Sean Johnson – plays into that, as well. The Boys in Gold still need a recovery (from a literal health standpoint and then a performance standpoint) to finish the year on a strong run.

Playoff race

Two teams in the East have clinched playoff spots: the lowest Toronto can finish is eighth, while Philadelphia can only go as low as 10th – both locked into the field. On the other end, DC can only finish as high as seventh, and is not so far from being eliminated entirely.

Nashville SC’s win over Houston was a big step forward in a playoff push. NSC is now in eighth on 21 points, and as of right now, 34 points is the mark that would guarantee a playoff spot. Thus, the magic number is 13: if NSC earns 13 more points, they’re in as things stand today. Teams below them (or above them) in the table dropping points will count toward that 13, as well. The Boys in Gold haven’t secured a spot or even earned a position that allows them to simply coast to the finish. But the latter is approaching.

In the West, things are a lot more open. That’s largely because there’s a lot more soccer to be played (or not played, given the unlikelihood that Colorado can finish all 23 of its scheduled contests). Either way, nobody has yet been locked into the playoffs nor eliminated – in fact every team can still finish either first or last.

No “Best/Worst” finish columns because every team can still theoretically finish in any of the 14 positions

Nashville SC rootin’ guide coming tomorrow.

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