A Quick Look at Schedule Strength
How it shapes up for every team down the stretch
You may have noted that our normal game reviews have been missing over the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately, we have been otherwise engaged with various things and haven’t had too much time to properly analyze games, so we have been on an enforced break. However, we have had some time to check out how things look for the entire USL Championship as we get down to the sharp end of the season. With so many playoff spots yet to be secured, whether by placement (mostly in the East) or just simply getting into the playoffs, each team’s strength of schedule becomes increasingly important. So we broke out the old spreadsheet and worked it all up.
Here’s how we did it. First, we figured out every team’s points per game at home and away, since these can differ significantly. Then we listed out every team’s remaining schedule, also split up by home and away games. We then slotted in the home or away PPG of every opponent, as applicable, and added them up. Finally, since the teams all differing numbers of games remaining, we averaged those results. And this is how that all shook out:
Note that we excluded teams already eliminated from the playoffs, so there are only 22 teams in the chart. What stands out is that Orange County’s chances are pretty weak, not only at making the playoffs but also to avoid finishing dead last in the Western Conference. At the opposite end of the scale, Indy Eleven, which has seen a massive improvement in form lately, could consider themselves still in with a good chance. Except that Detroit and Miami, one of which they have to boot from the playoffs, also have fairly modest schedules.
What is really interesting though is how close the Legion and Riverhounds are. The Legion is in fractionally the worse position, but not by much. So here’s mathematical proof of what we all knew already: tonight’s game and every remaining game after that are critical. On top of everything else, Pitt and the Legion have 2 opponents in common: San Antonio, whom we both play at home in consecutive games for the visitors, and Oakland Roots (the Legion plays away, Pitt at home). Fortunately the Roots are not much better at home than they are away.
Lastly, Louisville City needs to work hard to keep hold of that first place position: both Tampa and Memphis have easier schedules, although all three have relatively smooth sailing.