Tuesday, March 25, 2014

March 23, 2014

Houston, Dallas, Columbus and Toronto are the biggest early season movers. All four clubs have moved up about 30 points in the Elo ratings so far this year. On the flip side, New York, Portland, New England, Montreal, and DC United have underperformed, moving backwards about 30 points so far. No, you didn't misread that, even though DC United started the season over 200 points below average, they have managed to move down an additional 26 points this year. The lowest rating any team has ever had in my Elo system is a 1251 by the Metrostars in August 1999 - DC United is dangerously close to breaking that record.

Throughout the season, I'll especially be looking at Toronto's progress. With the addition of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Defoe, they've had one of the biggest offseasons in league history, and results so far show those changes paying dividends. My rater still weights their quality very heavily based on 2013 results, but the predictions are swinging relatively quickly on just two 2014 results. This weekend will be especially interesting - if they can pick up a result in Salt Lake City, their Elo Rating and End of Season Points Predicted will skyrocket.

Right now, my predictions are showing Salt Lake as 4.7 point favorites for the Supporters Shield, but of course the season is still very young.

On the Monte Carlo side of the numbers, the biggest change we see is Salt Lake's Supporters Shield chances dropping almost 14 percentage points. This has little to do with their draw against Los Angeles and much to do with Kansas City and Houston getting wins.The way the Monte Carlo numbers were looking at things - no one in the East was threatening a Supporters Shield run (early as these numbers are), so whoever won the West essentially won the Supporters Shield as well. After two of the strongest East teams picked up points, it made the Supporters Shield race significantly more competitive. Now, again, these numbers are still extremely young, but it is interesting to follow them over the course of a season to see how they react on a week to week basis.

Toronto, Montreal, Chivas, and DC all have yet to register as having a chance at the Supporters Shield. This obviously doesn't mean they don't have a chance to win it, it just means their estimation is so low it might as well be zero. In the case of Toronto, this is most likely severely underestimated, and in a few more results they will start to show in that column. In the case of Montreal, Chivas, and DC, these teams are all rated very poorly, so unless they start churning out consistent big results, they will most likely never make it to that column.

The same train of thought goes for the playoff probability column. However, the playoffs are obviously easier to make than winning the Supporters Shield, so we'll expect quite a bit more variation here. I'll mostly be keeping an eye on Toronto in the SS and PO columns, as I really don't expect Montreal, Chivas, or DC to be Supporters Shield (or even playoff) contenders this year.

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