24 July 2006

Shield Pace Update: Through 11.20

There was a request for an update on this, and if there is one thing I am, it is semi-responsive. What has happened to the Supporter's Shield pace over the last 10 games, and for DC United?

Not shut out through 26 games. Unbeaten in the last 14. All of that has earned DC United, in its quest for the Supporter's Shield, a grand total of... 3 games. That's it. If DC goes 0-2-1 in its next three games, it will find itself exactly on Supporter's Shield Pace. Which isn't bad, but that's the sum total of the margin that DC has earned through 20 games so far. At 5 points above Shield Pace, DC is easily in a better position than anyone else. But the previous high water mark was Kansas City at 3 points (Week 3) and by Week 7 they had fallen off pace. Now they're 18 points out of the picture, and the DCenters is calling them out of the Supporter's Shield Hunt. Here's the picture:

That's actually one of the nice things about this model. The pace is, strictly speaking, the rate at which you have to earn points so that no matter how well other teams do, you end up on top. You can finish below pace and still win, but the model says you can't finish above pace and not take the shield. However, let's pretend for a moment that if you reach a point where you fall far enough below pace that you can't possibly make it back, then all you have to worry about are the play-offs. Given DC's performance this year, this may be the case. In fact, it is possible that both DC and another team (at this point, FC Dallas) could finish above pace, which would mean we'd need to set the bar higher, but until that happens we'll stay at 2ppg.

Mathematically, Kansas City is still in the hunt, but the model says they can't do it. Even if they win all their remaining games, someone else will be better and take the shield. In case you were wondering, here were the teams eliminated from Shield Hunt based on pace, and the result that did it to them.:

Los Angeles Galaxy, Game 14, NYRB 2 : 1 LA, June 17, 2006. Yes, the New York Red Bulls knocked LA out of the shield hunt first of all, thanks to Jean Philippe Peguero. That the first team out is the MLS Cup Defender is a little sad. Perhaps Sampson did have to go.
Real Salt Lake, Game 15, RSL 0 : 0 CHIVAS USA, July 4, 2006. This must burn, since Chivas didn't even have the decency to beat their expansion cohort-mates. Instead, the draw was enough to drop RSL past the point of no return.
New York Red Bulls, Game 16, FCD 2 : 1 NYRB, July 8, 2006. A month after taking out LA, New York is taken down under the management Richie Williams.
Columbus Crew, Game 16, HOU 1 : 1 CLB, July 4, 2006. Again, you can't draw your way to the Supporter's Shield.
Kansas City Wizards, Game 18, KC 2 : 3 HOU, July 15, 2006. Houston took their second scalp, as Brian Ching's insurance goal was enough to put Kansas City, which had looked so promising early on, out of the picture.
Chicago Fire, Game 18, CHI 1 : 1 DCU, July 22, 2006. That's right, Chicago deserved the win in this game, but the draw knocked them far enough off pace that they can't come back. I shouldn't take delight in that, but I do.
Chivas USA, Game 19, CHV 3 : 3 COL, July 20, 2006. If anyone is going to go out in a draw where six goals are scored, it will be Chivas.
New England Revolution, Game 19, HOU 1 : 1 NE, July 22, 2006. It shocks me that we can project New England being out of the picture before the all-star game, but the draw with Houston dropped them to 13 points off of pace with 12 games remaining. The model says they are done, and Houston has claimed another victim.

Still Alive:
Colorado Rapids: -9 pts through 17 games
Houston Dynamo: -5 pts thorugh 18 games
FC Dallas: -2 pts through 19 games
DC United: +5 pts through 20 games.

Only four teams left to challenge for the Supporter's Shield, and only one from the Eastern Conference. Still, there's a lot of time left. And while the model says that Chivas and New England are out of it, really all that means is that they can't ever make it to the point where they know that if they keep doing what they've been doing, they can't lose it. So it's not really over for them yet.