- Let’s start with a worst case scenario that NYC only gets 3 more points beating Columbus at home. After the ATL gimme against Minnesota, they need 1 more win either at NE, in Harrison NJ, or home against TFC. Or a draw in all 3. That’s very doable but arguably all of those are tougher than Atlanta’s last 6 at home where they got 16 of 18 points. Even the Revs in Gillette are tough. It’s not super tough for Atlanta but NYC has a shot even if it loses the next 2 Away, at least as of now. If Atlanta wins tonight in New England that alters.
- NYC gets 4 points. One draw against CHI or NER plus the home win against Columbus. Atlanta needs 7 points. Beat Minnesota, plus a win and a draw in New England, in Harrison, or home against Toronto. A bit tougher.
- NYC gets 5 points. Draws away at both CHI and NER and beat Columbus on decision day. Now Atlanta needs 8 points, which means either 3 wins, or results in every one of its remaining games (2 wins and 2 draws).
- NYC gets 6 points: 1 Away win and 1 Home win. Atlanta needs to win 3 of its remaining 4 games to get the 9 points.
- NYC gets 7 points. 2 Wins (H/A) and 1 Away draw. Atlanta needs 10 points. 3 Wins and 1 Draw.
- If NYC gets 9 points, ATL also has to win out the last 4.
Dropping in this quick update before the games tonight change everything. On this first chart I noticed that NYC’s PPG is still ahead of Atlanta’s even though they control their destiny. This isn’t a secret. The PPG is right on the MLS Standings page. But I think many NYCFC fans lost sight of it with all the bad news. Another reminder, Atlanta only controls its own destiny if they win out, which would be 5 in a row on top of the 2-game streak they are riding. I expect they will drop points. The issue is will NYCFC drop few enough to stay ahead.
Another reminder is NYC also still has the second best PPG in the league, even with its current skid. If they can get healthy and right, this is a very good team when it plays well.
Next, here are the outcomes for all but (I think) 1 scenario:
Before putting up the regular graphs, here are some Home/Away splits that I think bring some of the recent woes into starker view:
The last of those, I think, shows how the rolling PPG average has taken a hit both home and away for the last few games, and it is easier to see without the prior years all intertwined.
Finally, here are the standard charts:
The Goal Differential is what stands out to me here. NYC hit +13 GD on June 29 and is at +13 right now twelve games later. Exclude the two Toronto games in those dozen, and NYC is +6 in 10 games, but the TFC games count. The team has not been totally flat for the last 2.5 months — there was a period in which it won 4 of 5 — but the team’s PPG in the last 12 games is only 1.58 compared to 1.83 over the first 18.
This can be a successful season if the team continues to stumble in the next 4 games but does well in the playoffs, but everyone will feel better if the turnaround starts tonight.
Week 29 – 4 Games
East Record 2-1-1
At Home 2-0-1
On Road 0-1-0
Goal Differential +5
East Points 7
West Points 4
Season To Date
East Record 48-35-31
At Home 37-10-10 (57)
On Road 11-25-21 (57)
Goal Differential +46
East Points 175
West Points 136
The East clinched the season series in Week 29. It has 13 more wins than the West with only 8 games remaining. Meanwhile, NYCFC has faltered, going 0-1-2 in its last 3 interconference games. It has a better record now against the East than the West, which would be good, but one would prefer they did it by way of a strong winning streak against the East rather than the other way around.
In the 14 games in which Pirlo has played 50 or more minutes NYCFC scores 1.21 goals and gets 1.07 PPG.
In the 16 games where Pirlo does not play 50 minutes NYCFC scores 2.06 goals and gets 2.31 PPG.
In the 16 games in which McNamara has played 50 or more minutes NYCFC scores 1.47 goals and gets 1.53 PPG.
In the 14 games where McNamara does not play 50 minutes NYCFC scores 1.87 goals and gets 1.93 PPG.
In the 25 games in which Ring has played 50 or more minutes NYCFC scores 1.76 goals and gets 1.76 PPG.
In the 5 games where Ring does not play 50 minutes NYCFC scores 1.20 goals and gets 1.60 PPG.
In the 10 games in which Herrera has played 50 or more minutes NYCFC scores 2.10 goals and gets 2.50 PPG.
In the 20 games where Herrera does not play 50 minutes NYCFC scores 1.45 goals and gets 1.35 PPG.
Failure to win either of the last 2 games created an opening for NYCFC to fall below second place. Here is a measurement of how much.
Assume NYCFC finishes 2-2-1 for 7 more points and 58 total. While it’s not inconceivable they do worse, that’s fairly poor. It is 1.40 PPG. Combined with the last 2 games it would mean a 1.14 PPG over the last 7 games of the season. It also means probably winning both remaining home games (including Hartford) and just one road draw result in the final 3 Away. Here is what the teams chasing NYC would need to do to finish ahead of NYC:
Columbus cannot overtake NYC even if it finishes 4-0-0 if NYC gets 58 points.
Red Bulls need to go 5-0-1-. This would end up tied on points, tied on wins, and NYC currently is ahead by 8 on GD, which RB potentially makes up with this record. Otherwise RB must finish 6-0-0.
Atlanta needs to go 5-2-0. This would end up tied on points, tied on wins, and Atlanta currently is 9 ahead on GD.
Chicago needs to finish 3-1-1-. This would end up tied on points, tied on wins, and Chicago currently is 2 ahead on GD. With a better record over the last 5, it probably keeps that lead, unless its loss is big or NYC has some lopsided wins.
The two points dropped in Colorado would have forced Chicago to win 4 of its last 5, and Atlanta to win 6 of 7, assuming the same 2-2-1 finish by NYC. NYC can make that up those 2 points by winning 3 of its remaining games for a minimum of 60 points which also force Chicago to win 4 of its last 5, and Atlanta to win 6 of 7.
With that in mind, if NYC does each of the following 3 things it is very, very hard for anyone to catch them:
(1) Beat Houston in Hartford.
(2) Win Away against basically-out-of-it Montreal or New England.
(3) Beat Columbus at home. Of course this means second place is likely not clinched until the season ends. That probably requires winning 3 of the next 4 at least. Making one of those wins against the Fire helps, but still needs a few other events to clinch before the last game.
We would rather Chicago not fold and make it easy for Atlanta to catch them which messes up NYC’s playoff matchups.
Atlanta has 2 more games to play than Chicago, and has to win 2 more games to finish ahead of them. If Chicago wins 3, Atlanta must win 5.
As we get close to the season end the nature of the weekly analysis changes, but I know some people like the charts, so here they are without commentary. These are current as of September 17.
This is a late update catching up (and false dated on the post date), and includes NYC’s games against SKC and Portland:
Week 27 – 6 Games
East Record 3-1-2
At Home 3-1-1
On Road 0-0-1
Goal Differential +7
East Points 11
West Points 5
Season To Date
East Record 45-32-28
At Home 35-9-9 (53)
On Road 10-23-19 (52)
Goal Differential +40
East Points 163
West Points 124
NYCFC has the only action midweek, winning against SKC with a very depleted squad. Here are a few updates pending the weekend results for the full slate of games.
Thanks to DC’s 3 game winning streak, it took until the win against SKC to clinch finishing above last place. The magic number for the Highbridge Globetrotters is 3 for Philly and Orlando and 7 for New England. Beyond them, The Wanderers need to also clinch against any two of Columbus, Montreal and Atlanta with magic numbers of 11, 11, and 17 respectively. Realistically it probably will be late September before a playoff spot is formally locked up.
With 7 games to go for each team, the Walkabouts are 6 points behind Toronto and 6 ahead of Chicago. I’m not going to play what-ifs with Toronto. If they collapse, the Transients can go for it, but until then my focus is on what it takes to stay in second place. Simply put, the lead is substantial at this point. If Chicago has an amazing finish and does not lose again, going 5-0-2, they get 61 points. The Itinerants can beat that with just 4-3-0, which is roughly their current pace, just ever-so-slightly below.
Abbreviated update. NYCFC had no action this week. There were only 4 games in all of MLS but 2 of them affect the race for second place.
Chicago ended its losing streak beating the Impact in Montreal. That’s actually quite big as Chicago was a poor Away team even while it was sitting on top of the league. Chicago was helped by a VAR red card in minute 52 against the Impact, and the Fire scored 7 minutes later. Hard to tell then if this is a return to form (some of their defenders were back as well) or a dead cat bounce. But now Chicago is just 3 points back from NYCFC. The Blues have a game in hand, which they will play with a depleted roster in a few days. IF NYCFC fails to win that then the cushion on Chicago is just one game.
The Red Bulls went to Dallas, met another struggling team, and also benefited from an opponent red card, but only gained one point while using up their game in hand. They now sit 7 points back with 8 games left for both teams. Both have 4 home and 4 away. NYC has 2 more wins so if RB makes up the 7 points there is a good chance they end up tied on wins. NYC currently ahead by 8 on Goal Differential, which is possibly enough to hold up if RB makes up the points. But unless NYC slips considerably, most likely due to multiple injuries already in place, the red team has a stiff climb and did themselves no favors taking advantage of the opportunity last night.
Week 26 – 1 Game
East Record 0-0-1
At Home 0-0-0
On Road 0-0-1
Goal Differential 0
East Points 1
West Points 1
Season To Date
East Record 42-31-26
At Home 32-8-8 (48)
On Road 10-23-18 (51)
Goal Differential +33
East Points 152
West Points 119
Red Bulls were a man up for 53 minutes and managed only a point against a struggling Dallas team, but in the East/West standings a road tie is a good result. Next week there are 6 interconference matches, five of them hosted by the East, and two of those at Yankee Stadium.