Sunday, July 17, 2016

Competitive Issue Keeping Crew Alive

Despite a remarkably poor run of results this year, Columbus still has some hope of something this year. MLS pretty much is designed to ensure that this is the case. Split tables and 60% of teams enter the season end MLS Cup are there and actually make it hard to be completely out of things. But there are other things not quite on the surface that create the bingo hopper nature of the MLS table.

Scheduling is the main drivers after East/West table and large contingent of teams making the postseason. During the summer there is always one Cup or another that pulls away the better players in the league (or at least distracts them greatly). On top of that you have unbalanced scheduling that jumbles it up.

On of the things new fans of the league first notice about the table is that West teams float to the top of the table. You hear things like "the East is garbage" and the like. Nobody ever seems to ask why this is. WHY is the West always at the top of the table? Are they just better? ... No.

West teams have a massive competitive advantage in that they play Eastern and Central teams late in the evening.

A normal non-night MLS game is just like any normal soccer match. Home team wins by an average of about 0.40 goals per game with the home team taking an average of 1.75 points per game. Figures fairly in line with the rest of the world in the sport (save for some leagues in Africa). Things change completely when you tease out traveling East teams playing late at night on the West coast.

1.75 PPG, +0.39 GD - Home Teams, Non-Night Games
2.10 PPG, +0.83 GD - West Teams vs. East/Central, Night Games

That's huge. To put it a different way, West teams have only lost twice from 29 this year to visiting teams from another time zone playing after 9 PM EST.


It's helping out Crew SC at the moment. They competition from the MLS Cup playoffs are playing a lot more of these late night West games then they are. DC, Montreal and the NY Red Bulls have each played three. Philly and the Fire have two and Orlando, New England, Toronto have each played one.

Just last night saw three EST teams play after 10 PM. Two ended in a draw and another (TFC) lost to a 9 man San Jose. All of these results have helped the Crew who haven't had to play a late one yet.


Only six more late night games for East teams (11 for Central) to go this year. Columbus, Revs, NYC, NYRB and Orlando each have one and Chicago has two. So, eastern teams will see some improvement in points and goals by the end of the year.

I don't see it helping or hurting Columbus from this point forward, however. Crew will have to stay in it minus the little bit of help they've gotten from scheduling so far.

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