Below is the final Pythagorean table for the 2012 Major League Soccer regular season which concluded tonight. The league Pythagorean exponent is 1.70, and the draw and loss columns are in inverse order from the typical American sports table format.
The San José Earthquakes completed a drastic turnaround from last season as they earned the Supporters’ Shield while improving their point total by 26 points. Their season was right in line with their statistical expectations and although the Seattle Sounders should have challenged them, in the end no other team came close. Sporting Kansas City finished second with a slightly overperforming record (Pythagorean residual of +5), while the rest of the top six performed a little better than expected, especially Chicago. It’s possible that the Fire’s overperformance put them on the cusp of a first round bye instead of missing the playoffs altogether. Seattle were the big surprise. Perhaps they could have been a serious contender for Supporters’ Shield, but too many drawn matches left them third in the conference and outside the top six overall.
The big overachievers in the league this season were the Columbus Crew (+7 residual) and Chivas USA (+9 residual). The Crew appeared to play over their heads this season and only failed to make it to the playoffs because of Chicago and perhaps Houston, and Chivas should have finished with the wooden spoon but didn’t. As you go toward the bottom of the table you are more likely to find poor teams that underperformed, and there are two in the New England Revolution (-7) and Toronto FC (-9).
Finally, if you look at the Pythagorean table there should have been more distance between the top six or seven with Seattle sandwiched between the Quakes and Sporting, but instead 3rd through 7th places are squeezed like an accordion. Playoffs always create a randomizing effect, but if the same correlation between defensive goal variances and league championships hold then I would expect a Sporting KC – Seattle Sounders final. I’ll explain later.
|San Jose Earthquakes||34||19||9||6||72||43||+29||66||19||7||8||64||+2|
|Sporting Kansas City||34||18||9||7||42||27||+15||63||16||10||8||58||+5|
|Red Bull New York||34||16||9||9||57||46||+11||57||15||8||11||53||+4|
|Real Salt Lake||34||17||6||11||46||35||+11||57||15||9||10||54||+3|
|Seattle Sounders FC||34||15||11||8||51||33||+18||56||17||9||8||60||-4|
|Los Angeles Galaxy||34||16||6||12||59||47||+12||54||15||8||11||53||+1|
|Impact de Montréal||34||12||6||16||45||51||-6||42||11||9||14||42||+0|
|New England Revolution||34||9||8||17||39||44||-5||35||11||9||14||42||-7|
|CD Chivas USA||34||7||9||18||24||58||-34||30||5||8||21||23||+7|