The end of the regular season is here, and it’s time once more to compare the teams and make fun of some while lauding others. The Power Ratings:
Your big movers were Philly (whose loss to Columbus was a bad beat from an xG perspective), FC Dallas (a three-game win streak will do that for you), and actually Nashville – though NSC underperformed its expected goals in both games this week, so a results-oriented ranking would be a little less kind.
Miami drops a couple slots, Chicago moves down three despite two road draws (overperforming their xG in both of those plays a major role there), and San Jose moves down largely because own-goals – one of which the benefitted from last night – don’t get included here.
Eastern Conference outcomes
Teams are generally organized into four distinct tiers on the table (well, five: FC Cincinnati is in a world of its own at the bottom of the table): Supporters Shield contenders, third through fifth, sixth through eighth, and the playoff chasers.
In the top tier, Philadelphia controls its own destiny for the Eastern Conference title – and the Supporters’ Shield – with a win enough to lock down both of them. Toronto FC can’t realistically catch them from behind if both win (their goal differential is 14 worse than Philly’s), nor be caught from behind (even a loss while Orlando beats Nashville sees TFC hold the tiebreaker), so really they have effectively nothing to play for if Philly takes care of business. The Western Conference cannot win the Supporters’ Shield at this point.
Orlando, Columbus, and NYCFC are a tier of their own, with Columbus needing a win and Orlando loss to move into third place. NYCFC can bump Columbus for fourth with a win over Chicago Fire and a Columbus non-win against Atlanta United. Orlando needs merely a point to seal third, and can’t drop below fourth.
Sixth through eighth is obviously our matter of interest, with Nashville SC occupying this tier – and currently bringing up the rear. New England, currently in sixth, can seal its position with a draw against Philadelphia. Of course, the Union hasn’t lost a single time at home this year, so that opens up the possibilities for New York Red Bulls (any win and New England loss) or Nashville (Win, New England loss, and NYRB non-win) to take third slot. Nashville can take seventh with any result against Orlando better than the one Red Bulls get against TFC (and again, sixth if that better result is a win while New England loses). I’ve previously opined that finishing seventh or eighth is much better than finishing sixth for Nashville SC’s purposes (and Gary Smith seems to agree). A single NSC point would give the opportunity to stick in seventh… and Orlando City’s needs would be met with a draw as well, so it’ll be interesting to see how spirited that particular game is.
Now, the playoff chasers. Chicago and Montreal occupy those positions now, but just a single point ahead of Atlanta and two ahead of both Miami and DC. Wins for the Fire and Impact would have them in the field. Anything less would be problematic for either team, and would require dropped results from the teams below them, as well. Chicago is playing an NYCFC team that is hopeful for a second-round home game, so they don’t have an easy task. Miami and DC must win to have a chance at the playoffs, and they’d also need help from dropped results ahead of them (in DC’s case, they’d be dealing Montreal their dropped points as well).
Realistically (ignoring potential compliance between some teams up the table), Montreal has a solid bead on the playoffs, while it’s likely Miami – playing Cincinnati – who has the upper leg on the final playoff spot.