Wednesday, October 28, 2009

MLS Power Rankings: Final Season Standings

By El Chupacabra
The mighty have fallen. The Crew limped home this season, losing three of their last four games. As a result, they've plummeted in the Luchametric ratings to fifth overall behind Seattle, Houston, LA and Chicago.

Their LM score puts them about .5 of a Standard Deviation behind League Leaders Seattle. As we've indicated throughout the year, .5 or less in the Z score indicates relative competitive equality.

Still, the Crew earned the most points this year in the league, and our season-ending tally has them below four other teams. How is this possible?

For starters, remember that the Luchametric is designed to be more precise than the league standings. As such, it is going to magnify certain differences that will get lost when you simply assign three points for a win, one for a draw, zero for a loss. In our view, the LM is more discriminating, hence the differences between it and the league standings.

Also, do not underestimate how much the last four games hurt the Crew's numbers. Their overall production fell off dramatically over the last month or so, allowing teams who surged at the end of the season and finished strong to overtake them. And again, the difference between the Crew and SEA is relatively small comparatively. And even in the official standings, only a few points separate the top teams in the league.

However, since we now have another full season of data, we'll be able to look very closely at the metric and see where we need to tweak it. We may be weighting some variables too much, some not enough. We'll look especially closely at the categories that are exclusive to the metric, like Quality Chances Created and Recent Form. But clearly, the Crew's recent form has killed them.

And so we fear for the Black and Gold. At their best they are the cream of the league. But this is a league with unparalleled parity in professional football. Regardless, they need to get their shite together and toot sweet. They may have won the Supporters' Shield, but they are fully capable of losing a two-game series on aggregate if they don't resume their mid-season form. Here's hoping Warzycha will have them ready on Saturday and that they won't sleep-walk their way to an early exit from the postseason.

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