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2018 SFPI MLS Initial Strength of Schedule

Montreal Impact v Chicago Fire Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

It’s late February, which means we’re just under a week away from the start of the 2018 MLS Season featuring the introduction of yet another new franchise in LAFC. As part of Stumptown Footy’s opening week coverage, I took a look at how every team’s schedule lines up using the Stumptown Footy Power Index data from last year. I had to make some assumptions for LAFC (otherwise my spreadsheet gave me an error message); I will explain that in a little more detail below.

First, though, a quick refresher on how the SFPI works.

There are two main components to the SFPI. The first is the Performance Score which is 100% determined by results on the field and does not take into account who the team is playing. Performance Score has multiple sub components, the largest of which is the PPG Score which takes a team’s overall PPG and adds it to their PPG over their last 5 matches, with last 5 being given more weight. Next is Goal Difference Per Game which, as the name implies, takes a team’s total GD and divides it by games played and then adds or subtracts that average from the PPG Score. The final component is Home/Away Bonus. A team gets bonus points for earning results (W/D) on the road, and loses an equal number of points for dropping results (D/L) at home. This accrues over the entire season.

For the purposes of this years’ Strength of Schedule ranking, I decided to make the assumption that LAFC drew all 34 of their games meaning that they received no bonuses for Goal Difference, and no Home/Away Bonus.

The second component of the SFPI is Strength of Schedule; which averages out the Performance Scores of all of a team’s opponents to date, and in the case of away games a percentage of that opponent’s home points per game. During the season, this will be added to a team’s Performance Score to determine their Total Score which is how the teams will be ranked throughout the season. It is weighted at less than 100% as its primary purpose is to differentiate between teams with similar Performance Scores.

This same formula (without the lessening of weight) can be used to determine a team’s remaining strength of schedule, even though that number does not play into a team’s ranking it is nice to know (particularly late in the season as teams are jockeying for playoff spots) how difficult of a road a team has to face. The higher the number, the tougher the schedule.

This is how I am determining the Strength of Schedule. It should be noted that this ONLY includes 2017 regular season matches. No 2018 preseason or 2017 playoff matches are included, and once the 2018 regular season begins none of these numbers will be included in either Strength of Schedule or Remaining Strength of Schedule (this is part of why the SFPI needs all teams to have played 5 games before having any semblance of accuracy).

Without further ado, here is the 2018 SFPI MLS Initial Strength of Schedule in order from hardest to easiest, with their raw Strength Of Schedule numbers.

1 Montreal Impact 4.1799

2 DC United 4.03685

3 Orlando City SC 3.94367

4 Colorado Rapids 3.84746

5 Philadelphia Union 3.76599

6 Chicago Fire 3.76444

7 Minnesota United 3.62953

8 Columbus Crew 3.55811

9 New England Revolution 3.50595

10 New York Red Bulls 3.48999

11 New York City FC 3.4733

12 San Jose Earthquakes 3.46094

13 FC Dallas 3.45716

14 Los Angeles FC 3.45564

15 Los Angeles Galaxy 3.39548

16 Real Salt Lake 3.39313

17 Seattle Sounders 3.37677

18 Portland Timbers 3.37063

19 Houston Dynamo 3.34941

20 Atlanta United 3.32521

21 Sporting KC 3.28494

22 Toronto FC 3.27851

23 Vancouver Whitecaps 3.22307