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Strength of Schedule: The Final Fourteen Games

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How does the end of the season compare to the start?

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers are now three games past the halfway point of the season and the results are starting to come, but will they come fast enough? One part of the equation will be the strength of the teams that the Timbers will be facing and where they will be facing them.

With the unbalanced schedule in MLS, the final fourteen weeks of the season will look very different from the first twenty.

Through the first twenty games of the season, the opponents faced by the Timbers have put up an average of 1.45 points per game on the season. The teams in the remaining fourteen matches of 2014, however, have only put up an average of 1.37 points per game, a drop off that would move a hypothetical team from a top three spot in the Western Conference to below the red line.

Looking closer, the Timbers have a remaining schedule comprised of eight games on the road and six at home, following an early season heavy with home games and only recently starting to even out. That 8-6 split will play a big part in the difficulty of the remainder of the season as the Timbers try for a playoff spot.

The Timbers' opponents in the remaining fourteen matches of the season have averaged 1.67 points per game at home and 1.19 points per game on the road (a number heavily influenced by .two home matches against the San Jose Earthquakes, whose 0.71 points per game on the road is only undercut by the Houston Dynamo's potentially record setting 0.40).

Taking the home-away split into account, the Timbers opponents have an average of 1.46 points per game where, home or away, they will be playing the Timbers. In the first twenty games of the season, that number was 1.49 points per game. The Timbers, by virtue of having two more away games to play than home games, actually have a schedule of very similar difficulty to the first part of the season despite playing several teams that are far down the table.

The Timbers themselves have not done well at home this year, as befits a team toward the bottom of the standings. With a home record of 2-2-7, the Timbers may have managed to only lose twice at Providence Park, but their glut of ties have left the team with far too few points, only averaging 1.18 points per game in Portland.

On the road, the Timbers have been slightly more successful than at home with their away record of 3-4-2, giving them 1.22 points per game.

The Season So Far

1-1 Tie vs. Philadelphia Union (1.10 PPG Overall, 1.00 Away PPG)

1-1 Tie vs. Chicago Fire (1.05, 1.10 Away)

2-0 Loss @ Colorado Rapids (1.42, 1.80 Home)

2-1 Loss @ FC Dallas (1.45, 2.00 Home)

4-4 Tie vs. Seattle Sounders (2.11, 1.89 Away)

1-1 Tie vs. Chivas USA (1.21, 1.30 Away)

1-0 Loss @ Real Salt Lake (1.53, 1.78 Home)

1-1 Tie @ Houston Dyanmo (0.95, 1.50 Home)

3-2 Win vs. D.C. United (1.79, 1.63 Away)

1-1 Tie vs. LA Galaxy (1.59, 1.11 Away)

3-3 Tie vs. Columbus Crew (1.15, 1.00 Away)

2-1 Win @ New York Red Bulls (1.20, 1.44 Home)

2-0 Win @ Chivas USA (1.21, 1.11 Home)

4-3 Loss vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (1.42, 1.20 Away)

3-1 Win @ Real Salt Lake (1.53, 1.78 Home)

2-2 Tie vs. FC Dallas (1.45, 0.78 Away)

1-0 Loss vs. Sporting Kansas City (1.75, 1.80 Away)

2-2 Tie @ LA Galaxy (1.59, 2.13 Home)

2-0 Loss @ Seattle Sounders (2.11, 2.33 Home)

2-1 Win vs. Colorado Rapids (1.42, 1.00 Away)

Average Opponent PPG: 1.45

Average Opponent Home PPG: 1.76

Average Opponent Away PPG: 1.26

The Rest of the Season

@ Montreal Impact (0.78 PPG Overall, 1.22 Home PPG)

@ Los Angeles Galaxy (1.59, 2.13 Home)

vs. Chivas USA (1.21, 1.30 Away)

@ New England Revolution (1.21, 0.91 Home)

vs. Seattle Sounders (2.11, 1.89 Away)

@ Vancouver Whitecaps (1.59, 2.13 Home)

vs. San Jose Earthquakes (1.11, 0.71 Away)

@ Colorado Rapids (1.42, 1.80 Home)

vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (1.42, 1.20 Away)

@ Toronto FC (1.53, 1.78 Home)

@ San Jose Earthquakes (1.11, 1.36 Home)

vs. San Jose Earthquakes (1.11, 0.71 Away)

vs. Real Salt Lake (1.53, 1.30 Away)

@ FC Dallas (1.45, 2.00 Home)

Average Opponent PPG: 1.37

Average Opponent Home PPG: 1.67

Average Opponent Away PPG: 1.19