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Looking a Little Closer at the 2015 MLS Schedule: Strength of Schedule

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

We have already covered the basics of the schedule across the way, not let's take a moment to look at it a little closer and find those weird scheduling decisions that MLS is so known for.

Strength of Schedule

First let's take a quick look at the strength of the opponents that the Portland Timbers will face in the Western Conference this season. With the league's current unbalanced schedule giving each team a slightly different schedule from the rest, how does the Timbers' schedule stack up against the rest of the teams in the West?

Here we have the teams in the Western Conference ranked by the average points per game of the opponents that they face in each in-conference fixture.

  1. Seattle Sounders: 1.36
  2. FC Dallas: 1.37
  3. Real Salt Lake: 1.38
  4. LA Galaxy: 1.39
  5. Vancouver Whitecaps: 1.41
  6. Sporting Kansas City: 1.43
  7. Houston Dynamo: 1.43
  8. Portland Timbers: 1.46
  9. Colorado Rapids: 1.49
  10. San Jose Earthquakes: 1.51

Not surprisingly, the the ranking looks very similar to last season's standings, with teams benefitting (or not in cases like San Jose or Colorado) from not playing themselves.

The Timbers, however, are one of three teams that seem out of place proportional to their standing last season, along with the LA Galaxy and FC Dallas. The Timbers and LA are both several places south of their finish last season, while FC Dallas has jumped up the list, thanks largely to playing only two matches this year against Portland, RSL, and Seattle.

The new arrivals in the west, Houston and Kansas City, are also in strange positions on the list. For their part, the Dynamo are in a good position as they avoid playign a third game against the Whitecaps, Sounders, and RSL, all playoff teams in 2014. Kansas City, meanwhile, don't get a third game against last year's basement-dwellers, San Jose.