Wednesday night’s scoreline was, well, an interesting one. Depending on who you talked to about the match, pundits opinions varied from "disrespectful," to "not a big deal." With the differing opinions about the match, it got me looking into where this current FC Dallas squad is right now. We all know they are top of the table. The tricky part to the current table are the games in hand they hold over the teams below them.
I’ve never been a fan of the games-in-hand scenarios. More often than not, they tend to just self-destruct my brain. They can be good, if your team has the games in hand (i.e Man City a few years back). On the other hand, they can be good for the team that has already played the matches, since they’ve already accumulated the points. All of this lead me on a wild goose hunt to figure out where FC Dallas is right now in comparison to where they are wanting to get; the playoffs, with home field advantage.
A look at PPG
There are a couple of ways at looking at this. The easiest way would be to just figure points per game (ppg) for this season and compare it to the last couple of years. Over the last five years (going back much further than that is kind of irrelevant since the conferences/playoff format have changed quite a bit) the average top point-getter ended with 63 points. Now take FC Dallas’ current ppg amount, 1.76, and multiply it out over the remaining games. Dallas will end the season with 60 points; the exact amount as last year. Meaning, they are still in a great position to challenge for the Supporters Shield and the #1 seed in the West. Everything is roses and a couple of horrendous away losses don’t mean anything over the length of a full season.
After looking at the PPG comparison, I wasn’t satisfied with the depth of my findings. Looking over the matches FC Dallas had played thus far, I noticed they have a lot of games against the current ‘Top 6’ left. We’ve played Vancouver and RSL once and still haven’t played the Galaxy or Rapids. Out of the remaining 13 games left in the regular season, Dallas will play nine of those against teams currently in the top six of the two conferences (4 at home; 5 on the road - 8/9 against the West).
Against the top six
Since we are currently on the same pace that we were last year, I looked back to see how we did against the top six teams. In 2015, FCD averaged 1.07 PPG against the top six of the West and another 2.17 PPG against the top six of the East averaging out to the 1.62 PPG; slightly under their total PPG (1.76) over the whole season. Makes sense. On average, you should get more points off the weaker teams in the league.
Now, let’s look at this year so far. As of right now, FCD has an average of 1.67 PPG against the current top 6 (1.5 vs the West and 1.8 vs the East). Again, the 1.67 PPG this year is slightly less than the 1.76 PPG for total matches played. It is interesting to note that FCD has accumulated more points per match against the top six so far this year than they did last year.
What is needed in the final third
What does all this information mean? Like I mentioned earlier, all of this stemmed from the ‘games-in-hand’ argument and whether it was a plus or a negative. So, putting our focus towards the final third of the season, realistically FCD should be in the playoffs. The magic number for the final playoff spot is usually right at 50 points. If the Hoops can manage a 4-8-1 record in this final stretch, they will be in. As a fan group, we all want/expect more than that. Looking at the numbers, FCD needs another 23 points to have a good shot of getting home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
If we use the average PPG against the Top 6, as well as against the rest of the league for this year, FCD is on pace to finish with a total of 58 points. Here is how the numbers breakdown:
- FCD is currently at 37 points.
- Eight games remaining against top 6 of the West, 8 x 1.5 PPG = 12 points (current PPG against top 6 W teams).
- One game remaining against top 6 of the East, 1 x 1.8 PPG = 1.8 points ( current PPG against top 6 E teams).
- Four games remaining against rest of the league, 4 x 1.85 PPG = 7.4 points (current PPG against rest of the league not in top 6)
- Add up 12 + 1.8 + 7.4 = 21.2 points gained over the remaining 13 games, which will put FC Dallas at a total of 58 points.
That point total should be good enough for probably second in the conference leading into the playoffs.
Now that we finally have the numbers that we are looking for, we can tell that there is still a lot of work to be done this year. This final third of the season is going to be brutal. With the Open Cup still going on, the CCL getting underway and the strength of the remaining MLS schedule, FCD is going to be have to grind to finish where they expect to be. Luckily, the squad is mostly healthy (hopefully Zach Loyd is starting to feel better) and Fernando Clavijo/front office are still looking at adding depth to the roster where they can.
Let’s get out to Toyota Stadium and cheer the boys on whenever we can. There are a lot of games coming up and they are going to need that place rocking to help push them over the finish line. If we all do our parts, this could potentially be a magical season. The job isn’t finished yet, let’s not stand idly by just waiting for October to get here. Let’s enjoy the ride and help push the team to the finish line. As always, your comments are welcomed!!!