MLS fans, take heart!
After a long offseason, wandering through the desert, desperate for water and scanning the horizon for hope in the bleak wasteland endless nothingness, your sojourn has ended. Our Power Rankings are back, ushering in a new era of unity. A divided fanbase can rally once more around hatred and frustration, unfurling a common banner of disbelief that someone could so blatantly underrate their respective teams.
I look forward to your anger. It feeds me.
How the model works
In case you’ve forgotten, there’s actually a pretty extensive methodology behind these power rankings. In the spirit of pretentiousness, I’ve fittingly titled it the Overall Performance Index. Here’s how the OPI (man, that sounds sick) works.
1. Points per game – 30%
Results are always the most important factor and have the biggest impact on a a team’s OPI.
This also only includes MLS results. Not Concacaf Champions League. Not US Open Cup. I’m sorry, I don’t make the rules.
2. Goal difference – 15%
This one is also fairly simple. How many goals a team allows versus how many they score is a pretty reliable indicator of how good a team actually is.
3. Form – 15%
One of the primary issues with the prior model used in 2021 was that games at the start of the year impacted their current standings just as much as recent matches. It was somewhat redundant, given how heavily weighted points per game are. In the new OPI, points per game over a team’s last five matches are also included, giving a more current view of performance.
4. Expected goal difference – 12.5%
If you know me, you know how much I love expected goals. While they’re interesting to look at for single match results, they also become predictive with over a larger sample size. They also bring an element of luck to the power rankings; a team may be creating plenty of chances and failing to finish them. This team will be scored higher than a team who doesn’t create or finish.
5. Strength of schedule – 12.5%
A 4-0 win over a bad team is worth less than a 1-0 win over a good team. Similarly, losing to a bad team will hurt a score much more than losing to a good team. The model locks each week, so it only factors in how a team was ranked at the time they were played. If a Week 1 opponent goes on to be good or bad over the rest of the season, the value of playing them in Week 1 doesn’t change.
6. Home and away form – 12.5%
Another shortcoming of2021’s model was that it was blind to location. 6.25% of a team’s OPI comes from their home points per game compared to a 10 year league average, with another 6.25% coming from the road.
7. Goals Added – 2.5%
Goals Added (also known as G+) is a metric created by American Soccer Analysis that essentially measures how every action on the field increases or decreases a team’s chances of scoring a goal. This is yet another data point to help measure how a team is actually performing.
Now that all the dumb nerd stuff is finally out of the way, here are the Matchday 4 power rankings.
|2||ST. Louis CITY SC||10.69|
|9||New York City FC||4.42|
|10||New England Revolution||4.24|
|13||New York Red Bulls||3.46|
|14||Inter Miami CF||2.80|
|15||San Jose Earthquakes||2.58|
|18||Orlando City SC||2.11|
|21||Real Salt Lake||0.51|
The home and away form is still leveling off a bit, but after four weeks the OPI has normalized enough to be fairly accurate. In future editions I’ll include more info on each team and why their score changed.
If you have complaints, please direct those to @ChrisIvey865 on Twitter.