With MLS kicking off on March 3rd, we’ve now seen 6 matches involving the Canadian MLS teams. This caused some jostling of the top positions of the Elo-ratings, and kicks off what should be a very entertaining year of soccer. Lets have a look at how the MLS teams have shaken out. As we don’t count friendlies or Champions League matches in our Elo-rating system, all movement boils down to the 1st 2-weeks on the MLS season. Given how Vancouver fell 2-0 to Tigres last night, excluding Champions League results is probably beneficial for MLS’ ratings as a whole. If you’d like a walk-through of how we calculate our modified Elo-ratings, please review our mathematically inclined primer article.
In Week 1 of the MLS season, Toronto FC fought Real Salt Lake to a 0 – 0 draw, in part because of Giovinco’s failed PK. Montreal Impact FC fell to San Jose Earthquakes by a single goal, giving them a rough start to the 2017 season. Champions League semifinalists Vancouver Whitecaps FC drew a scoreless match against Philadelphia Union. As a result, the first week standings put Toronto FC atop the pile and sent Montreal Impact FC to the bottom. Given that TFC was playing an away match, they actually benefited, ever so slightly, from the draw as a result of home field advantage, which was enough to put them top of the pack given Vancouver’s home-draw against Philadelphia.
The 2nd week brought more of the same. Toronto FC drew Philadelphia Union 2 -2 on the road, Montreal Impact FC drew Seattle Sounders FC with the same scoreline at home. Vancouver Whitecaps FC fell to San Jose Earthquakes 3 – 2 having played short a man for over 1-hour of play after Ousted’s red card. This kept the standings with Toronto FC at the top of the pile as a result of two straight road draws, and Montreal Impact drooping below their Canadian counterparts, though in a statistical tie with Vancouver.
In related news, Canada Soccer has announced the format for the Canadian Championship for 2017. Although it generally keeps the same format as 2016, there is a potential Champions-League play-in match in order to align the competition with the new CONCACAF Champions League Format. As a result, if the 2017 Canadian Champions are not Toronto FC (who won in 2016), the two sides will have a single play-in match on 9 Aug. This will count toward the Top Canadian Team Elo-ratings, with that match being given a weight of 55, which is the average of the Canadian Championship Final’s Leg 1 & Leg 2. Because of this bonus match, there is a huge potential for TFC to receive a boost, or take a dramatic hit in the Elo-ratings in 2017.
The Canadian Championship announcement also provided entry for the L1O & PLSQ Champions in 2018. This move simultaneously dismantled the Interprovincial Cup, with 2016 serving as its final installment. The exact structure of the 2018 Canadian Championship won’t be announced until sometime next yer, so any additional modifications to the weighting will need to wait until then. The odd-number of known entrants (7) creates the possibility of a bye-round, should the Canadian Premier League fail to materialize in time to join the competition.
Our next update will roll out March 29th, and will include 6 more matches from MLS-sides, plus a week’s play from both Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 and Toronto FC II. Will the reserve sides match the movement of the 1st teams? Or will they follow opposite trajectories, like they did in 2016? We’ll have our first peak at the end of the month!