MLS Playoff Math: Using Statistics to Predict the MLS Cup Champion

MLS CUP MATH

EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAY-IN GAME

Montreal at Houston
Houston: 1.41 Home G/G, 0.96 Home DM
Montreal 1.12 Road G/G, 1.08 Road DM
Computer Prediction: Houston 1.52 – 1.07 Montreal (Houston Win)

To get the result above, I took Houston’s home goals/game average and multiplied it by Montreal’s road defensive multiplier (1.41 x 1.08). Because Montreal’s road goals allowed average is a bit higher than the league average, it actually increases Houston’s goals/game figure. I repeat the formula with the other two figures to get Montreal’s score. Note Montreal’s G/G average drops due to Houston’s home DM.

Even without the defensive multipliers, Houston should benefit from Montreal’s poor road form. The Impact haven’t been playing well anywhere lately, but they have been reasonably poor away from Saputo since their shock win at Seattle on opening day. Houston should win this game and advance to the conference semis.

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAY-IN GAME

Colorado at Seattle
Seattle: 1.71 Home G/G, 0.85 Home DM
Colorado: 0.88 Road G/G, 0.82 Road DM
Computer Prediction: Seattle 1.40 – 0.74 Colorado (Seattle Win)

The one failing of my predictor’s formula is that it doesn’t necessarily take recent results into account. Thing is, neither do the playoff gods. It’s a brand new season and everybody has the same amount of wins and losses. Colorado has the lowest road goals/game average of anyone in the playoffs except the team whom they are visiting in the Play-In game.

Drew Carey and friends can breathe a sigh of relief, as the Sounders should advance to the next round.

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  • Dave from Dix Hills

    So ……. Much …….. Math …… Wouldn’t hurt my brain as much if Red Bulls won at the end though.

  • Aguinaga

    Fun exercise. Only thing missing from the analysis is the statistical probablity that the predictions made all come to pass :)

    • Bill Reese

      Well, there can only be 3 outcomes to a match (not including penalty kick wins, which go in the book as draws, technically). So, I have a 33% chance of making a correct pick. There are 15 playoff games. So you’d go .333 to the 15th power, which is a number I cannot begin to comprehend. My best calculation is that you would have a 0.00167% chance of picking all 15 correct in a world where Win, Loss and Draw had even chances of occurring. That translates to a 1.67 chance out of 1,000