MLS Game of the Geek

Hey MLS fans! Are you excited about the playoff race?

Don't bother. It's pretty much over. At least, according to Sports Club Stats.

Crew - 99.7%
Dynamo - 99.3%
Fire - 97.8%
Galaxy - 91.8%
CD Chivas - 88.1%
Sounders - 70.5%
Rapids - 70.2%
Revolution - 69.5%
Real Salt Lake - 38.6%
D.C. United - 38.4%
Toronto FC - 32.6%
Wizards - 1.8%
FC Dallas - 1.5%
Earthquakes - 0.1%
Red Bulls - Out

Hey, I'm as disappointed as you are. And sure, the standings look pretty close, to the untrained eye. But team number 8 (New England) has a 69.5% chance of making the playoffs, while Salt Lake and DC United are hovering the wrong side of 40%.

You would think there would be more competition for the other spots, but the math says no. I haven't run the numbers, but in my experience, 69.5% chances come up approximately seven times out of ten.

So while the Supercalifragilisticlasico (I'm sure I stole that from someone, I apologize for the plagiarism) seems like it's a do-or-die game between rivals whose season could tip either way at this point - it isn't. Just another day at the office between two clubs marking time before the games count.

Boy, that doesn't feel right.

What's interesting is that the games you think would be crucial, actually aren't. Salt Lake did themselves more damage by losing to New England than they did by hammering CUSA, a division opponent. That doesn't feel right either, but those are the numbers. And while the percentages don't take into account the wacky win streak swings that can happen - Kansas City came back from the dead last year, and DC fell down the stairs - it's pretty good at showing where teams went right, and where they went hideously wrong. And what, if anything, they can do to improve their chances.

Which means the useful part of the chart isn't the chart - it's the percentage swings of the upcoming games. And the game of the week isn't the Supersoakerclasico (I didn't steal that one, but it's nowhere near as good) - it's Toronto at Seattle.

If the Reds win, they go from 30% or so to 60% or so. Any other result, and they're meat. The Sounders could end the day a better than eight out of ten shot, worse than 2 out of 3, or worse than 50-50.

The least important game is Columbus at New York, but you probably gathered that already. (However - if you're like me, and think that Richie Williams will have the Red Bulls playing with a lot more pride than JCO did, look for some serious spoiling action coming out of New Jersey in September.)