- NYCFC has finally played the same amount of Home and Away games, and we’re as closes as can be to the season halfway point while that first point is true. So I played a bit with league-wide Home/Away splits. In the end, I’m not sure this tells us too much of substance so I probably won’t keep it up regularly, but here are some highlights.
- NYC not only has the best Home record and PPG in the league at 2.75, it has the largest GD (+17), most Home goals (21), tied for lowest Home GA (4), and adjusted per game the highest Goals/g at 2.63 and tied for lowest GA/g at 0.50, and therefore also highest GD/g at +2.13.
- Away, NYC is tied for 7th best Away PPG at 1.13, tied for 13th best GD at -6, tied for 7th best Away Goals at 11, 17th in the league with 17 GA, and adjusted per game tied for 8th best Goals For/g at 1.38 and 14th best GA/g at 2.13. NYC’s Away GD/g of -0.75 is 14th in the league.
- NYC’s Home GD exceeds its Away GD by 23 which tops the league. The same is true for the H/A GD/g split of 2.88. NYC’s H/A PPG differential of 1.62 is second to RSL at 1.88. RSL achieved this mostly due to its 0.50 Away PPG.
- Atlanta is the only team with a better Away PPG, with 2.13 Away and 1.89 at Home. Oddly, Atlanta’s Away GD is only +3 due to losing their first game Away 0-4 in Houston.
- San Jose is alone with a better Away GD/g than Home, but both are negative, and San Jose still has a better Home record than it does Away.
- Yesterday was NYCFC’s 50th win in regular season MLS. They have played 118 games for a PPG of 1.517. The complete record is 50-39-29. Home PPG is 1.847. Away PPG is 1.186.
- The 2018 Away PPG is 1.125 and needs to be better.
- The top 3 in the East have opened a substantial gap between them and the rest of the conference. The projected difference between the Red Bulls and Crew is almost 15 points at year end. That is twice as large as the next biggest gap between RSL and Portland at just under 7 points.
- NYCFC has a schedule that should allow it to improve its road record.
- NYC has only 7 games remaining against the current projected playoff teams in both conferences. There are no more games against those teams in the West. Against the East Conference playoff teams, NYC has 5 Home games remaining (RB, RB, CLB, NER and PHI) and only 2 Away (CLB and PHI).
- Against the current non-playoff teams, there are 4 Home (CHI, MTL, DCU, VAN) and 7 Away (ORL, CHI, MTL, TOR, DCU, MNU, SEA).
- In contrast, 7 of the 8 Away games to date have been against teams above the playoff line, while only 3 of the 8 Home games have been. I expect that NYCFC will not remain undefeated at Home, but should more than double its Away wins.
- As a for example, NYC can get to the 11 wins neighborhood by winning 7 of 9 remaining at Home plus 4 of 9 Away.
- Finally, I added Chicago to the below. They’re not exactly tearing up the chart, but they deserve to be there at least as much as Orlando or Toronto at this point.
I skipped a Week 15 update as Week 16 was both starting and finishing just 3 days later. And then I managed to title the first table below Week 15 by mistake.
- Atlanta just keeps winning road games. Their Away game PPG is 2.13 which is better than any team’s combined full record. But Atlanta is not the only team getting it done Away. Here is a list of teams with a better Away record than NYCFC right now: Atlanta, Dallas, SKC, LAFC, RB, Columbus, Vancouver, Chicago, Portland and the Galaxy. That is basically every team NYC is trying to best for top of the East, for CCL, and Supporters Shield, plus a few head scratchers. Some of these are barely ahead of NYC on Away PPG, but the Pigeons should be well ahead of them. To be fair, NYC’s Away schedule has been extremely tough, but this is still a disappointment.
- Atlanta winning in Columbus was especially disappointing as it was one of 4 remaining Away games that stood apart from the rest of their schedule as being tough. The remaining 3 at this point are Dallas, in Harrison, and at Toronto on Decision Day, which is looking less and less tough every week. Their other Away games are going to be Philadelphia, Montreal, Orlando, DC, Colorado, San Jose. Anything can happen, especially at Away games, but except for Philadelphia and maybe DC, I don’t see these teams posing much of a threat. If Atlanta is going to stumble, it will likely be injuries, or just an inexplicable downturn in their run of form.
- NYC is 3-3-2, 1.375 PPG, over its last 8 games, evenly split between Home and Away. That’s not good at all.
- By virtue of PPG, NYC has a whisker thin edge over RB, but if RB wins it’s extra remaining game, it has the upper hand.
- Comparing East and West, the West team is better at spots 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9, with spot 5 being a draw.
- Right now, the first 6 lines on the “what if” table all require NYC to play better than it has to date, and its record over 8 games, basically a quarter season, is way below all of them. The schedule gets easier, but if results do not turn around soon, true excellence and other regular season goals will move out of reach.
- Toronto has to finish above 2 of these teams to make the playoffs. Orlando and Philly are making that seem possible right now despite TFC’s continued disappointing results.
I think it’s time to level some attention on the neglected stepchild of MLS, the Supporters Shield race. That means taking a look at the West.
- Dallas and Sporting KC are both ahead of NYC. All the attention has been on Atlanta because of the Eastern Conference competition, and the 2-year CCL spot race. SKC has no CCL relevance, as they already qualified with their USOC win last year; Dallas started this year 11 points back (their current point total puts them even with the Red Bulls on adam‘s CCL Race chart, albeit with one fewer game in hand). But both SKC and Dallas factor into the SS and even if you don’t care about that, both SKC and FCD are potential MLS Cup Final opponents should NYC ever get that far, and playing them in Yankee Stadium would be nice. NYC has won against both teams, which is a real accomplishment: Dallas has not lost to anyone else and SKC’s has only one other loss. They are ahead of NYC because almost nobody else can beat them. They also both have more away wins than NYC despite playing fewer Away games to date. They still have both games remaining against each other — one of those in Week 33, so points will be dropped by somebody there, and maybe a draw means points dropped for both. Dallas hosts Atlanta in a midweek Independence Day matchup where I expect we will prefer Dallas. SKC has to go to Portland this Saturday, where the Timbers have not lost. I am going to disagree with Adam’s CCL post from this morning and root for the Timbers.
- More from the above chart: the West has 3 teams worse than Montreal. But overall the West is much improved over last year. I will update the Interconference Play thread soon, and the East has a small lead, having played most of the games at home. Last year the Fifth Place East team had more points than the best of the West, and it was clear by this point of the season that the East winner would win the SS. That is not the case this year. The East can win the SS to be sure, but it is just not a certainty.
- For the first time this year I think Toronto will have to fight to make the playoffs. They still have a good shot, if only because Orlando and the Union seem destined to self-destruct, but it is going to take a significant run. They now need 1.77 PPG to get to 50 points. Though they managed 2.03 PPG over a full season last year, 1.77 is still a tough ask and such a turn-around for a team that seems to have a major hangover from 2 straight MLS cup final runs and their CCL play this year.
- The NYC year to year line charts:
- NYCFC’s next MLS season win will be number 50 of their history. Their next loss will be number 49.
- Final season point goals:
East Record 7-8-5
At Home 5-5-0
On Road 2-3-5
Goal Differential +3
East Points 26
West Points 29
Season to Date – 60 Games
East Record 28-24-8
At Home 18-11-3
On Road 10-13-5
Goal Differential +14
East Points 92
West Points 80
Terrible month at Home for the East, which has 4 more wins than the West but has played 4 extra Home games. The race for overall interconference superiority looks like it will be close this year. The West is stronger than it was last year from the top through the middle of the table.
- NYC is now winless in its last 5 Away games. In 2017 the longest Away winless streak was 2 games. In 2016 the team had one streak of 5 games winless Away, while achieving the best overall Away record in its short history. In 2015 the club had both a 5 and 6 game winless Away streak (and 0.882 PPG). The 2017 away record was 1.294 PPG, 6 Wins and 22 points. 2016 was 1.412 PPG, 7 Wins and 24 points (against just 8 wins /30 points at home).
- With 9 Away games left, 3-2-4 gets 22 points to match last year, and that is well within reach, though we hoped for better. 4-2-3 yields 24 points and matching 2016. The optimistic reach goal would be 5-2-2 and 26 Away points.
- With all that, it’s starting to appear that if NYC is going to win either SS or the 2-year CCL spot, they will have to do so with one of the best Home records in the league and a solid Away record. Going into the season I very much expected the opposite.
- NYC has the Fourth Best PPG and third in the East after a brutal schedule. The upcoming opponents are legitimately tough but 6 of 7 are at home and NYC needs to dominate or probably resign itself to a one-game playoff round (or hope other teams stumble even more). Fortunately there remains a somewhat substantial gap between NYC and 5th place, so at worst that 1-game playoff should be at home (Stadium TBD).
- Full season goals and how to get there:
- Well, exceeding 70 points was always a stretch, but it seemed a reasonable stretch to consider after the first 7 games. We are starting to reach a point, though, where it would take a run of truly uncommon form to get there. To reach that, the team cannot lose more than 2 games over the last 21, or it can lose 3 (and even 4) but win nearly every game it does not lose. I’m not ready to drop those possibilities from the chart, but disappointments in the next 7 games could do it.
- Finally, the line graphs, and again, with the worst of the schedule probably behind us, there is hope the lines start moving up.
- The last Goal Differential downturn in 2018 caused by the Houston loss is obscured by the 2017 line. The team GD for both years was 9 after Game 12 and 7 after Game 13.
- NYC has more points at home than Atlanta does in 2 fewer games. Atlanta is outpacing NYC on the road, albeit against somewhat lesser competition. I don’t think that many folks saw that coming. The Away game in Houston this coming week is the sort of game NYC will need to win to keep pace with Atlanta’s Away record and RB overall.
- While it is a positive that NYC is done with what was probably the toughest part of its schedule, and Atlanta and RB probably have yet to face theirs, it is not the case that ATL and RB will have to go through something similar to NYC this year. NYC has already faced away games against the top 3 teams in the West (SKC, LAFC, and POR). Atlanta and Red Bulls both play all 3 of those teams at home this year. Columbus — like NYCFC — plays all of them on the road.
- Speaking of which, here are the next 5 games for Columbus: @SKC, TFC, RBNY, ATL, @LAFC. By the end of that we should have a good idea if the Crew is an illusion held afloat by an easy early schedule or the real deal.
- With Houston next week, NYC will have played 9 of its first 13 against the West. All that is left is @SEA 7/29, VAN 8/4, and @MIN 9/29. The club sits at 6-1-1 through 8 games, evenly split Home and Away. NYC will play 5 at Home and 7 Away against the West this year. It makes up for deficit that with extra home games against both Orlando and the Red Bulls.
- The club PPG is 2.375 against the West and only 1.25 in the East, though to be fair, the latter represents only 4 games, 3 of them Away, and 2 of those Away against the top 2 teams in the league to date. NYC has no more games in Harrison or Atlanta and 3 at home against those teams.
- I added an orange line for bye position in the East. If it ever looks like NYC will be in danger of dropping to 5th I will add one for 4th Place.
- Astonishing that right now the projection for 4th Place and a first round home playoff game in the East is higher than what would win Supporters Shield most years before last. I believe it is shaping up to be a 3-team dogfight for the top 2 spots and a bye. As long as you have a Home game and probably win, I’m not sure it is a great disadvantage to finish 3rd. Maybe a play-in game is what NYC needs to shake off its First Leg blues, but I still hope for Supporters Shield and that 2-year cumulative record CCL spot.
- Here are the line graphs and squad goals. The latter shows how hard it is to expect NYC will finish with lower than roughly 60 points this year.
- NYC’s worst 2 and best 2 games roughly cancel out: 4-0 and 4-0 against 0-4 and 0-3.
- The bad news is that Atlanta has as many Away wins as they had all last year after just 5 Away Games. The worse news is that they are actually playing better Away than at Home. They won’t finish with 2.4 PPG Away, but if they continue to excel Away they will likely win both SS and the CCL spot.
- The good news is that their Away record has not been tough. Ranking teams by PPG in a combined table, they have played 6, 11, 15, 16, and 17. Their loss was to the 11 (Houston) and the 6 is the probably over-ranked Orlando, who have beaten up their own soft schedule (Away to just 5 (the loss to NYC), 14 and 19).
- Here is the Away schedule difficulty for some other top rivals for position this year
- Red Bulls have played only 4 Away (to be fair they have 2 games in hand) against 6 (ORL again), 12, 17, 19.
- Columbus has 1 Away win against 14, 15, 18, 22, 23
- SKC has 3 Away wins against 1, 9, 15, 17, 19
- LAFC has an impressive 4 Away wins against not-so-impressive 1, 12, 13, 17, 18, 21
- The best news is that the NYCFC 2-2-3 Away record was compiled against 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 20. The 10 is Portland, who has not dropped any points at home yet (only 3 games).
- Still, Atlanta has its 4 Away wins in hand, while NYC just has a schedule that gets easier. Winning 4 of 5 Away is impressive no matter the competition. NYC has work to do on the softer part of its Away schedule.
- Also Atlanta lucked out by playing the top 2 West teams — SKC and LAFC — at home. They will also play Portland in Atlanta. On the other hand, NYC won 4 points Away to SKC and LAFC while Atlanta won only 3 against them at home.
- Of course, the big wildcard in remaining schedules is Toronto, who are ranked 22 right now but are (almost) certainly much better than that and could be a very tough game both Away and Home. Notably, except for losing to Columbus in Week 1, they have not yet played any of the major contenders noted above, which means (1) nobody but CLB has an advantage if TFC gets good, (2) TFC can gain ground on everyone by winning H2H, and (3) their remaining schedule is hard.
- The line graphs made me notice that NYC is at 1.0 PPG in the last 5 games. But what a gauntlet: ATL (A), POR (A), FCD (H), RB (A), LAFC (A).
- What is need to achieve squad goals:
- Looking at this last table, remember that NYC has a chance for an outstanding finish if they can keep it together: NER (H), DCU (H), MTL (A), CHI (H), MIN (A), DCU (A), PHI (H).
- PPG standings:
I didn’t want to write this and nobody wants to read it but here we are:
- NYCFC has lost 6 regular season games all time by 3 or more goals. The Red Bulls claim 3 of them.
- 2015 LAG 5-1
- 2016 RB 7-0
- 2016 RB 4-1
- 2017 TFC 4-0
- 2018 POR 3-0
- 2018 RB 4-0
- That NYC has 2 such losses in just 4 playoff games is beyond abysmal.
- All time, NYC also has 6 Wins of 3 or more goals:
- 2016 Colorado 5-1
- 2016 Chicago 4-1
- 2016 Columbus 4-1
- 2017 DC 4-0
- 2017 Orlando 3-0
- 2018 RSL 4-0
- NYC has slipped to 3rd place on the PPG standings in the East, and a 3-way tie for third league wide. NYC’s next opponent is part of that 3-way
- Consecutive scorelines of 0-3, 3-1, and 0-4 drop the Goal Differential down below where it was last year.
- In its six wins, NYC’s cumulative GD is +12, so when it wins it does so by an average of 2 goals.
- In its 2 losses, the GD is an average of -3.5.
- NYC’s 1.33 PPG in 6 Away games is right between its 2016 record (1.41) and 2017 record (1.29).
- NYC is only at 1-1-2 for 1.25 PPG against the East so far this year. It’s only 4 games, but NYC’s 2.0 PPG is almost entire due to crushing the West at 5-1-0 and 2.50 PPG. On the up side, NYC has had only 1 Home game against the East with 3 Away. On the down side, neither of NYC’s 2 Away wins are against the East.
- Two big losses in 3 games feels awful, but many big goals are well within reach, even if a season more or less like the last 2 suddenly seems more likely:
- Finally, here’s a Twitter thread dated about a week ago. Minkus put together a graph showing a bell curve for each team’s likely Total Points based on their xGoals in each match. It takes a minute to figure out how it works but is quite simple once you grasp it. The bottom line is that NYC has been rather lucky in its results according to xGoals. Go down the thread and he has similar graphs using PPG instead of Total Points. You don’t have to think xGoals is perfect to find this unsettling. Click the image to be taken to the original tweet.
East Record 10-7-1
At Home 7-3-1
On Road 3-4-0
Goal Differential +4
East Points 31
West Points 22
Season to Date – 40 Games
East Record 21-16-3
At Home 13-6-3
On Road 8-10-0
Goal Differential +11
East Points 66
West Points 51
The record is a bit misleading as the East has 5 more wins than losses, but also played 4 more Home than Away.