It is that time of year again, our Strength of Schedule Playoff Projections are back! With many clubs entering the homestretch in the season—seven Eastern Conference clubs have just 10 matches remaining— we thought it would be the perfect time to reintroduce our points projections.
Evan Eyster has created a formula that takes into account each clubs’ average points per game, then compares that to their previous and future opponents. Using this, we can better predict the finishing spots of each team the conference. Stronger clubs would take more points when playing weaker clubs, and the easier a remaining schedule is, the more points a side can earn in that time. Vice versa, the harder the remaining fixtures are, the fewer points a team is expected to earn in those matches.
You can read a full explanation of our methodology here. Projections are as of matches through August 5th.
Eastern Conference Points Projections
1. Charlotte Independence (62.2)
2. Louisville City (59.1)
3. Charleston Battery (53.7)
4. Tampa Bay Rowdies (52.7)
5. Rochester Rhinos (51.7)
6. Bethlehem Steel FC (46.2)
7. FC Cincinnati (46.1)
8. Saint Louis FC (41.6)
9. New York Red Bulls II (38.8)
10. Orlando City B (38.7)
11. Ottawa Fury FC (38.0)
12. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (34.5)
13. Harrisburg City Islanders (34.5)
14. Toronto FC II (25.3)
15. Richmond Kickers (24.5)
Hardest Remaining Schedule: Ottawa Fury FC (1.487 average points per future opponent), Toronto FC II (1.459), Richmond Kickers (1.435)
Easiest Remaining Schedule: Saint Louis FC (1.249 average points per future opponent), Rochester Rhinos (1.285), FC Cincinnati (1.297)
Our first projection bodes well for the Charlotte Independence, as they hold the table lead by a projected 3.1 points. The current leaders also sit nearly 10 points inside the threshold necessary to host a playoff match. Next, Louisville have given themselves a clear edge in second place, and remain hot on the tails of Charlotte. To round out the top four, Charleston and Tampa are jockeying for position, and sit within a projected point of each other.
Rochester, Cincinnati, and Bethlehem hold the remaining spots of the top seven and a distinct advantage over the rest of the conference. The top half of the projected table has created a noticeable gap — 4.5 points to be exact — over the bottom half, but more importantly, the eighth and final playoff spot. As of now, we project that Saint Louis FC will take the last spot in the postseason for the Eastern Conference. However, NYRB II, Orlando City B and Ottawa Fury all sit in striking distance of the Missouri club.
Saint Louis FC also has the easiest remaining schedule in the conference, and can use this to their advantage to earn the final spot in the playoffs. Ottawa Fury hold the hardest remaining schedule in the conference on the season, and are in the heat of a race for that last spot in the playoffs. The latest rankings here also maintain the goal of 40 points being the minimum number that needs to be reached for a club to punch their ticket to the postseason.
What are your thoughts on our initial points projections? Do you think any side can challenge Charlotte for the top spot in the conference? Who will the race for eighth? Let us know in the comments below!