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MLS Home & Away Tracker: June 1 Edition

If you believe that where you play the game matters, this cut of the MLS standings will interest you.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

There is an adage in soccer that you should at least win at home and tie on the road.  If any MLS team did that the entire season, they would have won the Supporters Shield any of the last 4 years.  They also would have gone undefeated, which would be pretty amazing.

When I started this column about four weeks ago, someone suggested it be monthly.  That sounds good to me.  As a reminder, this is how performance is evaluated with this stat:

Result Points
Home Win 0
Home Loss -3
Home Tie -2
Away Win +2
Away Loss -1
Away Tie 0

New this time, I've factored in number of games played.  I had to do this because of MLS' bonkers scheduling in which some teams have played 10 games while other have played 15.  So now I take the points for a team as calculated above, then divide by the number of games played.

Here's the East and West tables so far:

Western Conference
Team HAT/Game
Seattle Sounders -.1
Real Salt Lake -.1
LA Galaxy -.3
Vancouver Whitecaps -.3
Colorado Rapids -.5
San Jose Earthquakes -.8
FC Dallas -.9
Portland Timbers -1.0
Chivas USA -1.3

RSL and Seattle are the only teams in the west to have three away wins, and are both at the top of the west.  Portland and Chivas are the only teams with only one win at home each, and they occupy the bottom spots in the west.  As compared to actual standings, this actually lines up pretty closely.  The Galaxy and FC Dallas, however, are in much different spots in the home & away tracker (HAT?) vs. their actual place in the Western Conference standings.  LA's picked up points in five of their seven away matches, and Dallas has lost more home games than anyone but Chivas.

Eastern Conference
Team HAT/Game
New England Revolution 0
Houston Dynamo -.4
Toronto FC -.4
DC United -.6
Columbus Crew -.7
Sporting KC -.8
New York Red Bulls -.8
Philadelphia Union -.9
Chicago Fire -.9
Montreal Impact -1.2

While the bottom teams line up pretty closely with the Eastern conference standings, Toronto is a good bit higher in the HAT.  Houston is also a good bit higher, due mostly to three away wins only two home losses out of seven.  While they're sitting at 4th in the East, they've also played 15 games; their 1.1 PPG doesn't exactly bode well.  In this analysis, so far so good.

Other Stuff
Weird Stat Points
If "Home Team" were in MLS, their projected points: 55, 1.6 PPG - Same as last month
If "Away Team" were in MLS, their projected points 38, 1.1 PPG - One point higher than last month
Average score -.6
Montreal is the only team yet to win on the road.  New England and RSL have yet to lose at home. Sounds about right

Conclusions

Honestly, this isn't exactly setting my hair on fire.  The teams at the top and the bottom are pretty close to the regular season standings once you adjust for number of games played.  The Dallas, LA and TFC differences that I mentioned are mirrored in the PPG stat, which MLS includes on their web site (but leaves off their mobile app).  The league is by design extremely even, so this feels like a lot of work for not a lot of insight.  I do like the "Home Team" and "Away Team" cumulative record, but the projected points for the first two months were extremely stable.  I guess we can take that away, if nothing else; home field means something.  Specifically, it means 1.6 points expected in a game instead of 1.1.

I'll write one more in July, but if it doesn't get sexier I'll probably drop it.  At that point, it will be time for the Crew playoff 4caster anyway.