Week 7: Nashville SC steals a massive road point but slightly falls in the Points Off Playoff Pace Model as Eastern Conference rivals secure big wins

Nashville SC proved once again on Saturday that they will never give up and will fight and claw their way back from a deficit. The 2-2 even affair in Atlanta feels like a massive victory in narrative terms. The Boys in Gold enter the first FIFA international break on a high note remaining undefeated. While Hany Muhktar’s late goals propels Nashville SC in the good vibes standings, Nashville fell one spot in my Points Off Playoff Pace model. Nashville picked up the road point expected of a playoff-caliber team, but a road win for CF Montreal allowed the formerly known Impact to leapfrog Nashville. 

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.

POPP Table as of June 1, 2021

Nashville heads into the international break riding high.  Nashville remains unbeaten despite things looking very bleak for the Boys in Gold heading into the last 10 minutes in Atlanta. It is hard not to see the first stretch of the season as a success. But if Nashville wants to firmly secure a playoff spot in the fall, they will need to start picking up some wins in place of draws.

Nashville enjoys a two-week break before returning to action for a Friday night matchup in Harrison against the New York Red Bulls. New coach Gerhard Struber’s side has looked inconsistent to start the campaign, but heads into the break after notching a win against Orlando City. Given the inconsistencies, Nashville could capitalize and secure all three points which would rocket them up in the POPP standings.

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