My fellow degenerates, but especially the most degenerated among you, You all disgust me. I told you there would be no new toast thread before its time. But did you undeserving bastards, the dregs of BigSoccer society, have the dignity and maturity to accept this fact with patience? Of course not. Did your whining and badgering and petitioning make one bit of difference about when I posted this thread? Of course not. And does Toast Jesus forgive your abhorrent behavior? Of course not. Now that August has arrived and the "All-Star" shambles is over, it is time to toast the toasted. So let us embark on this new adventure! (No doubt it'll end in disaster.) A new time of testing is upon us! (We're all gonna flunk.) We have nothing to lose but games, playoff positioning, and the wreckage of this dumb MLS season -- and good riddance to that. The countdown to the MLS off-season is upon us. Let us pray to Toast Jesus for the day of its blessed arrival. (Also, Lord of Toast, if you could deliver Sacramento to MLS, that'd be spiffy.) The Toast Thread is here, complete with all its typically suspect analysis, its shoddy calculations, its weird prejudices, its groundless superstitions, its all too obscure inside jokes, and its flood of recycled toast memes. Not to mention the bullcrap I write. In conclusion, to hell with all you nudniks who badgered me to start this thread and who unnecessarily bumped the old thread out of pique and boredom. You'd all be terrible disappointments to me if I had any expectation of reasonable behavior from any of you. But I don't. Yet, I do demand justice. So help me Toast Jesus! Help me deliver the blessing of your merciless, yet divine vengeance swiftly upon my many antagonists! And when they are down and writhing, please hit them again once more for good measure. They deserve nothing less. -- -- -- Things that nobody reads. Links that nobody clicks. If any of you read this stuff, you wouldn't ask such annoying questions later. But you don't and you will. If you recognize what's written below, first, that's weird because nobody reads this stuff, and second that's because I mostly copied and pasted it from previous iterations of this thread. Previous editions: 2007, 2008 (lost), 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. Companion threads: DCU 2010, and DCU 2012. Parity related notes: "Yoshou’s Blind Squirrel Theory,” Parity, Player Selection & The DCU Front Office, (Dis)Parity and The 2013 MLS Season. Background on the Calculated and Actual Despair Numbers: 2010 incarnation, 2011 explanation, 2012 revision. Toast: The taxonomy of toast (which runs from untoasted bread to burnt toast) is rigorously scientific, and certainly not some back-of-an-envelope calculation based upon an anecdotal sense of the probable, improbable, and highly improbable. Nor is it purposefully designed to infuriate Crewligans and Orlandorks. That is, however, an unintended, but quite welcome, attribute. The secret word is fercockt. Pass it on. As per the 2015 thread, once toasted, a team may be Lazarused, becoming Lazarakia, which is to say untoasted, only once back in playoff position by PPG. In the grand history of toast, no team once toasted has made the playoffs, though one or two have been temporarily Lazarused. Determinations about toast are made at the end of the playing week as establish by this thread's schedule of games. Religious Guidance: The Toast Jesus thread on the religion board. Also, if odd stuff happens, we make up new rules as we go along. That's how we roll on the toast thread. It's a weird combination of bullshit and arithmetic. Deal with it. And if you can't, then may you undergo a severe Maillard reaction in Toast Hell. -- -- -- Toast-Pocalypse 2017 is brought to you by Leidos, the official defense contractor of MLS playoff failure. -- -- -- Though Sacramento Republic FC's MLS bid does come awfully close, nothing is perfect. And this thread is very far from perfect. This is not my fault. It is the fault of the despicable horde arrayed against me. No doubt there are errors (probably in the schedule, but possibly also in the spreadsheet). If you see them, please kindly point them out so I might correct them. And when you find those unfortunate errors please remember to cast blame among those who deserve that blame. Indeed, I encourage you to shame them publicly for their wicked ways. In that spirit, I would like to name some members of that horde now. Be aware that this list is by no means exhaustive. Indeed, a handful of the horde I deemed too wicked to mention. @aperfectring, @bgix, @crazypete13, @EvilTree, @firefan2001, @FoxBoro 143, @Geneva, @Golazo, @Grumpy in LA, @JasonMa, @Kappa74, @lurak, @Namrog The Just, @nlsanand, @onefineesq, @RafaLarios, @rslfanboy, @Sachsen, @Salvadanish, @SccrDon, @SoccerMan94043, @Sounders78, @The Franchise, and @ThreeApples Named or not named, I'd like you all to know that you're all a bunch of insufferable doody-heads. -- -- -- Here there be tables! -- -- -- Notes In this opening post I am expected by tradition to prognosticate about whether we're going to have much of a playoff race. Sometimes in the past there really wasn't much of a playoff race. The better teams were already sitting pretty atop the table, and the lesser teams were already gathering mold below. There might be a little jostling here and there, but the idea that you could have a bottom of the table team suddenly surge into the playoffs has not been a staple of MLS play for a while. Yeah, it happened now and then, but these have lately been exceptions, not rules. And I'm not expecting an exception this year. So will there be an exciting playoff race. Maybe. It depends what you mean by playoff race and how exciting things need to be for you to consider them exciting. (This is a long winded way of saying don't get your hopes up.) Let's start with the WC, as it offers the clearer picture. Three teams in the WC are on the verge of toast: MIN, COL, and RSL. Indeed, they could be toast in the next week or two. Let's just cast them aside. They are in that bottom of the table bucket and I expect them to stay there. By PPG numbers LAG should be in that category as well, but their CD# and AD# are not quite as dire because they have only played 21 games. So LAG has a very small window to turn things around. (Come back Curt!) Then you've got 4 teams atop the table, all with PPG averages at or above 1.50 PPG: FCD, SKC, VAN, HOU. They could all pretty much limp into the playoffs as long as they match the performance of the very worst teams in their conference, 1.00 PPG, for the remainder of the season. That leaves the middle of the table, SJE, POR, and SEA, to jostle for position, and to hope that Sigi fails at LAG (#BringCurtBack!). And then there's the EC. First, let us acknowledge the obvious: DCU is toast. Indeed, they've been toast for about one month now. Recently Ben Olsen said "We can get out of this." Ben Olsen is wrong. As the old tagline says, "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate." DCU is done. Doomed. Kaput. Finished. Ruined. Washed up. Down and out. Also, DCU won't be in the 2017 MLS playoffs. They are toast. The other bottom of the table teams really aren't that badly off, especially when compared to their WC brethren. None are truly near toast, and all could conceivably make a push for better playoff positioning. And then there's the top of the table, which unlike the WC has 5 teams striding high instead of 4. TFC, CHI, NYC, and ATL could all limp into the playoffs. After them, there's a big PPG gap, followed by CLB and ORL. Unless NER, MTL, or PHI actually can make a run (possible, but not something I'd personally bet on), the EC playoff race really might come down to those two teams. I think this is the playoff reality delivered by MLS expansion. There most certainly is a playoff push and real playoff races, but only among a handful of mid-table teams. Today the worst team in each conference is not in 8th place, just a few notches down from the playoff line. They're in 11th place. (And soon enough, they'll be in 12th place!) The hill they'd need to climb to reach the playoffs is that much higher. Expansion also means the "middle of the table," right at the playoff line, truly is right near the middle of the pack, and not as it was in the past just a few spots from the bottom. So the bad teams are stuck at the bottom, the good teams don't generally fall from the top, and the middling teams battle it out among themselves. In a promotion and relegation system, all the excitement down the stretch is at the very top and the very bottom of the table. In MLS, down the stretch to the playoffs, all the excitement is right smack in the middle of the table. If you're watching the MLS playoff race, you're not focused on the best teams playing the best soccer. And you're not focused on the worst teams praying for the drama of a miracle. You're watching a bunch of inconsistent mid-table mediocrities bumble around. Which is, in a way, all so fitting for MLS. -- -- -- Quick Hits How do you say it's in the bag in Canadian? Not that French Canadian gibberish. In Toronto Canadian. I ask because TFC is running away with the SS. So unless you think that CHI can catch them, it's in the bag. By the way, why is CHI up there near the top of the table? I knew this old spreadsheet was shoddy. LAG is the new Chivas USA. Throughout most of its existence, CHV had the dubious but delightful distinction of having a better away record than home record. For virtually the entire 2017 season LAG has been worst in the league at home, and best in the league away. (We miss you, Curt! You were the best LAG coach ever!) MIN has the toughest schedule in the league, and not just because they're a lousy team. SEA has the easiest schedule in the league. (The bastards!) Only one team can win the WS, and I'm saying right now that team is DCU. What makes me so confident? MIN, COL, and RSL are the other WS contenders, but none have a GD as abysmal as DCU's. I'm hard pressed to say which conference is stronger overall this year. League disparity is climbing again. (See the chart below.) This is consistent with @Yoshou's Blind Squirrel Theory. Interestingly, the removal of the expansion year teams does not really change the disparity measure. It would seem instead to reflect an overall change in the league: good teams are getting better, and bad teams are falling further behind. -- -- -- Housekeeping Same as last year: Full updates once a week. Mini-updates as warranted. Some updates half-assed. Others full-assed.