30 May 2007

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):

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At 30 May, 2007 10:19, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love this chart. Keep it coming.

(Geez I'm such a nerd.)

At 31 May, 2007 00:42, Blogger tucksider said...

i'm glad you waited until now to start this. i wouldn't have wanted to see it three weeks ago.

At 31 May, 2007 10:45, Blogger D said...

After the first two games, I had an early peak at this graph. Seeing us low was humbling. And it's worth noting that even at .500, we're in worse shape now (with respect to the Supporter's Shield) than we were at 0-1-0. Seven points off pace is a mark that even LA hasn't reached yet. Still, we're back, a bit.

At 31 May, 2007 11:35, Blogger The Bird said...

It won't be easy, but looking at June, DCU has a huge opportunity to meet the standard of 2 points per game. For the 10 pts we'd need to average 2ppg, we need 3 wins and a tie. You can get there if you count LA, Chicago, and RSL as wins, and split a tie and a loss between NY and Colorado.

I don't think that's an unreasonable expectation. RSL is in the toilet, LA is in shambles, and Chicago has looked flat and disorganized. Colorado has been looking good, but I'm hoping DC wants payback for the 2-1 result in the opener -- at least enough for a tie. NY is the wild card. But it will be interesting to see how we rise to the challenge.

At 31 May, 2007 16:36, Blogger Blue Blooded Journo said...

(Shameless plug)

If you want a single table widget to keep track of the Supporters Sheild race, you can add the widget from my blog in your sidebar in a few clicks.

At 02 August, 2007 11:49, Blogger henryo said...

Well done! You may also want to put-up the historical data for 1996-2001?

By the way, I also have a post on MLS at http://sleague-trivia.blogspot.com/2007/07/sleague-major-league-soccer.html, feel free to visit & comment..


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