Massive Report turned to analytical models as the regular season came to a close and then throughout the playoffs to assess Columbus Crew SC's prospects. The playoff chase numbers dipped as the team struggled with the Portland Timbers and the New York Red Bulls and climbed as the team took out Toronto FC and D.C. United to close the season.
The projections again turned bearish with the Red Bulls as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. Through it all, Crew SC continued to play their game and get the results needed to move on. Now, the Black & Gold are the decided favorite over the visiting Timbers with MLS Cup on the line.
First, turning to the familiar projections from American Soccer Analysis. They use a weighted method using advanced stats, including expected goals metrics, to attempt to best predict the outcome. The underlying stats like Crew SC.
Columbus had a 71/29 projection to win last week with a 2-0 lead on New York. ASA feels Crew SC is in nearly as strong of a position given the underlying stats and the home field advantage. A note of caution though, the Red Bulls had a 67/33 probability of winning the Conference Finals and Crew SC dominated.
ESPN's Paul Carr has developed another metric. The Soccer Power Index takes in account past results and weights them to try and projects the Cup winner.
Another rosy projection and one that closely mirrors the work from ASA.
As always, a note on these projections... they are just that. After running thousands of simulations, Crew SC "won" 65% of the time. The Timbers still won their share too. These analysts monitor a lot of data, separate the useful from the noise and try and weigh them so they provide the most reliable outcomes. It might provide a momentary burst of optimism, but they won't stop 90 minutes of stomach churning butterflies on Sunday as the real result is decided.
As always, a big thanks to the team at American Soccer Analysis and Mr. Carr at ESPN for their fine work in crafting these tools.