Nashville travelled to Real Salt Lake on Saturday for the club’s first road trip of the 2021 season and came away with a draw. This is Nashville’s fourth draw in five matches to start the year. In my Points Off Playoff Pace model, Nashville stays steady as a road draw is the expected result.
Explaining Points Off Playoff Pace
For those unfamiliar, the Points Off Playoff Pace (“POPP”) table is a set of standings that I created that aims to show how a club is progressing towards earning a playoff spot.
The basic premise that underlies the POPP table is that the target line for making the MLS playoffs is 50 points. In any typical year, 50 points is enough to safely secure a playoff berth.
On average, MLS teams earn roughly 1.85 points per home match and 0.93 point per road game. Rounded up, it comes to 2 points / 1 point. Hitting this target of 2 points per home game and 1 point per away game would yield 51 points in a 34-game season, one point clear of the playoff target line.
Saturday’s draw was certainly not the most scintillating performance from the Boys in Gold. But Gary Smith and company will certainly take the road draw.
This week, Nashville SC returns home for its first match against 2021 expansion side Austin FC. This will be the first match since the beginning of the pandemic with close to 100% capacity at Nissan Stadium. Nashville will want to take advantage of the lift provided by the fans and come away with all three points to inch closer to the playoff line.