The Supporter Shield Pace Report after May 2007
Last year we tried to separate ourselves from the horse race a bit to present a team's progress in a context seperate from their competition. To do this, the we employ the theoretical notion of a "pace team" which will win enough points at a constant rate to win the supporter's shield. Last year we set the pace a 2 points per game, which might seem a bit excessive but no team that averaged 2 points a game has failed to win the Supporter's Shield, while New England averaged 1.84 ppg in 2005 and finished second to San Jose. Still, this year I've lowered the pace to 1.9 ppg, which would mean 57 points overall. Somewhere between 55 and 57 points is probably a safe enough number to achieve this year in order to win the Shield, so I'm happy with that.
What I like about the pace concept is that it allowed you to view the impact of stretches of games over the season to understand how early games might affect you later. DC's three straight losses put them six points off of the pace team, and the three consecutive wins have only closed that gap to three points (remember, you're earning three points per game while most days the Pace team is earning two.) It also shows treats the future as unwritten, allowing us to say, for instance, that at this moment, RSL is in bad shape (10 points off of pace) but Houston is in just as bad a shape (oops, had 9 GP for HOU instead of 8. Corrected now). LA may look dire with only 5 points, but with all the games in hand they still have time to right the ship, and so they're above RSL, Houston, Toronto, and Columbus, in terms of competitiveness for the Shield, and even with Chicago.
New York is certainly doing well, 2 points ahead of the pace team, but Kansas City and New England are also in good shape, both even or ahead of the pace. History indicates that if any team can hold their current form for the rest of the season, they'll win the shield. So New England and Kansas City don't really need to worry about New York, they just need to keep doing what they're doing and the odds are that the other two will falter.
If you want to play around, I've put the source data here, and comparison to the pace team should populate as you fill in game results (if you just wanted to track your team only, for instance). The graph below summarizes every team in the league, but probably shouldn't be used for the purposes of saying which team is ahead in the standings, only how close (or how far) teams are from winning the Supporter's Shield (click on the picture for a larger, more readable view):