Top Canadian Teams – Happy Canada Day 2016!

It’s been a busy two weeks in the Canadian Soccer world. The MLS is back in action following a Copa America break, the L1O Cup race is down to the semi-finals, and the Amway Canadian Championship has drawn to a very dramatic close. To top it all off, the US Open Cup is now on to the quarter-finals, which although not directly relevant to Canadian teams, does help show how the leagues stack up. We’ll get to that in a minute.

01_07_2016_ELOBut first, let’s look at the rankings. There’s been absolutely no movement in the top 8 in regards to their order. FC Edmonton and Ottawa Fury FC are both still on the NASL “summer” break, so there’s no surprises there. Also, little movement in regards to the points for the USL teams, with the same trends following through from the previous two rankings, although Toronto FC II has dropped a fair number bit in the ELO giving FC Montreal a chance of not being the bottom of the USL heap.

The real interest here is in those top three teams. Toronto FC, who have been doing stellar all year, have suddenly dropped a handful of points, while Montreal Impact & Vancouver Whitecaps are now virtually tied. MLS play did tinker with those numbers a little, but it’s the final Amway Canadian Championship (ACC) match that really put a twist on those numbers. With Vancouver “winning” 2-1 over Toronto, they snatched some ELO points that shot them up a fair bit. It should be noted though, that “away” goals count double in the ACC, but I haven’t done so in the ELO. I may need to tinker with the formulas next year to account for that, and to make the 2nd match in these home & away aggregate series weigh slightly heavier than the 1st. I’m looking for opinions on this, so feel free to send me yours!

In lower division play, the last quarter-final for L1O happened just yesterday, allowing Durham United FA to keep the top spot for the league. AS Blainville have further solidified their top spot in the PLSQ. The Ottawa Fury Academy continue to own PLSQ’s bottom position. PDL’s K-W United, Calgary Foothills, and Thunder Bay Chill continue to hold the top three spots in their league, with Victoria Highlanders now moved above Toronto FC Academy to take position #4. The Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) has no movement at the top & bottom, but considering they play only 1 or 2 matches a week, that isn’t surprising.

The ACC and the US-Open Cup (USOC) are both either finished, or coming up to the final rounds. ELO Rankings, to be meaningful, can only really compare teams that play one another. As these two tournaments allow teams from different leagues the chance to face-off, they provide us with a way to compare leagues and adjust relative starting values. These two tournaments both play teams from the MLS, and the NASL, while USOC also includes USL & PDL teams (and other US-only sub-div 4 leagues).

Theoretically, if the starting points are perfect, each league should show a nearly identical gain/loss when compared to another league, with the top tier showing all gains. PDL teams should gain enough points off lower-division teams to offset their losses to USL, who should gain enough from PDL to offset losses to NASL, and so on. This has not happened this year, with PDL losing almost 3 points. Additionally, with NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers continuing the USOC in the quarterfinals, we may see the MLS drop even more points off their average.

League Original Current +-1.000 Rounded Suggested
PDL 900 897.307 898 903
USL 1000 1002.001 1001 1006
NASL 1200 1200.417 1200 1205
MLS 1400 1394.011 1395 1400

To the left you can see the original, current, and suggested starting averages for next season. I want to keep a 1400 top-line, which means I need to add points back to MLS in order to re-raise them to that level. The points added to MLS, must also be added all the way down, but we need to remember than an occasional upset can and should occur, so I’m “forgiving” +-1.000 on the ELO scores. This means I pretend the current MLS is 1395, and thus only add 5 to bring it back to 1400. With NASL still basically at its starting point, there’s no serious adjustment, just add the 5 I had to add to MLS. This narrows the gap between 2nd & 3rd division. Similarly, I “forget” 1.0 of the change in USL and add 5, thereby bringing it up to 1006, and closing the gap yet again. Despite the higher starting number, the PDL/USL gap widens slightly.

These “suggested” starting points will change following the next USOC match on July 20th (and the semis/finals if the Strikers keep winning). I won’t be able to hammer out a final starting average for the 2017 seasons until only 1 league remains in the USOC, so the numbers will slide a little one way or another, but the gaps will remain pretty close. Similarly, a gap will start to develop between L1O & PLSQ once the Inter-provincial Cup plays out at the end of the year.

Look for the next ELO rankings mid-July. Until then, get out there and Support Local Soccer!

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Shawn Gray

Shawn Gray

Shawn Gray is an experienced author who has previously published articles on transit, cycling & politics. With a Bachelor of Arts (English) degree, a Bachelor of Education degree, an Event Management graduate certificate, and two years of Business Administration, his education has helped him connect with a variety of people, through numerous industries. In 2014, he was a Team Lead in the Club Section of TD Place, where the Ottawa Fury host matches. Now located in Victoria, British Columbia, Gray enjoys the local PDL matches, and tries to watch his favourite clubs online with his infant son whenever possible.

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