By The Numbers: What We've Done, What Must We Do

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mgarbowski

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After what turned out to be our season low-point I put on my Excel geek hat and ran some numbers and simple scenarios.
Those posts are here:
http://nycfcforums.com/index.php?threads/will-we-be-able-to-climb-out-of-our-hole-and-make-the-playoffs.3021/page-2#post-73989
http://nycfcforums.com/index.php?threads/will-we-be-able-to-climb-out-of-our-hole-and-make-the-playoffs.3021/page-2#post-73993
http://nycfcforums.com/index.php?threads/will-we-be-able-to-climb-out-of-our-hole-and-make-the-playoffs.3021/page-2#post-74009

I was trying to throw some water on the optimists who said we would be fine once Lampard and other (then) unknown reinforcements arrived. It was early. There were plenty of games to play. I tried to show that we could not wait until the transfer window to start getting better, and even if we did, we faced a daunting task by the numbers due to the hole we dug.

It turns out we did better in the next 6-8 games than I even dreamed, and we still face an uphill climb to the playoffs.
Let's start with where we were after 12 games:
Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 10.55.09 AM.png

We were 1-7-4, with 7 points and a -7 Goal Differential. And as you see, 0.58 PPG. Yet many were saying we would be fine, and pointed to last year's Revs, who lost 8 straight in mid-season yet made it to the League Cup Final. That losing streak last year ran through Game 20. So the first thing I did was figure out that we needed to get 16 points in our next 8 games to be as good as the Revs were at the low point of their season last year. We needed to go from 0.58 PPG in our first 12 to 2.0 ppg in the next 8. I thought that was impossible. We ended up coming pretty damn close. Details in the next post.
 

mgarbowski

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The Revs played 20 games and had 23 points (7-11-2) at the end of their 8-game losing streak. To reach that level of failure by week 20 given where we were after Game 12 NYCFC needed to go 5-2-1, and earn 16 points in 8 games. We came sooo close, going 4-2-2 and earning 14 points, for 1.75 PPG.
Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 11.09.29 AM.png
I didn't think it possible we would do even this well. Turn one of our ties into a win and we would have made it.
But measuring us against last year's Revs seemed kind of arbitrary. Plus, they went 10-2-2 the rest of the year and didn't really sweat making the playoffs as a result, finishing second in the conference with 55 points. We don't need to expect to finish that high. We can dream, but what do we really need to do.
For that, I estimated how many points would we need to reach the playoffs and what would we need to do to get there. And for that, I uncoupled from the Revs and focused on what we had to do before transfers could come in, and after. That meant the next 6 games (through game 18) and after.
 
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mgarbowski

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So I imagined and ran the numbers on 5 scenarios ranging from the disaster and winless streak continued (0-3-3) to the best I could imagine which was 3-1-2, netting 11 points in those 6 games.
I thought that was highly unlikely. Nobody responded and said "I think we can do better in the next 6."
NYCFC went 4-1-1, earning 13 points in 6 games for 2.167 PPG in those 6 games. Kind of astounding. See the table in the prior post

But since then we slipped, going 0-1-1 in the next two. So what do we have to do from here? Next post.
 

mgarbowski

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At the end of Week 12 I estimated 42 points to be the cutoff for the playoffs. Above that you more than likely make the playoffs, below that more than likely do not. It's not very scientific. For more details and explanation read here from last week:
http://nycfcforums.com/index.php?threads/after-this-week-3-points-seperates-3rd-from-9th-us-in-the-east.3380/#post-89722

For what it's worth, I see no reason to change the estimate through last night's games, and today's Chicago-Columbus game won't affect it because neither team is close enough to the line.

The other important thing to heavily emphasize is 42 is my better than 50% line. To be very confident of making the playoffs I would say you want to be above 45, so target 46 or even 47. Yes, 43 or even 42 might just likely get you in, but it's nice to have higher confidence.

43 Points = 1.26 PPG.
47 points = 1.38 PPG.

Let's update where we are after the pretty good last 8 games:
Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 11.26.54 AM.png
Our PPG went from 0.58 to 1.05, but it is easier to grow from a super low spot like 0.58 than it is to get from 1.05 to 1.26 or 1.38. We have 14 games left to do it. Plus, going from 0.58 to 1.05 gained us exactly one spot in the standings. While on that topic, here are the PPG standings in the East right now.
Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 11.31.35 AM.png
We're tied with Philly for next-to-last. That applies league-wide as well.
We went 1.75 PPG over 8 games and climbed over Chicago. That's it.
 

mgarbowski

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So, finally, what do we need to do over the remaining 14 games to reach the estimated magic numbers. Obviously there are a lot of variations to reach those levels but here are a couple.
Win 6 lose 4 tie 4, 22 Points, 1.57 PPG = 43 points and I think it's barely more than likely we squeak in.
Win 8 lose 4 tie 2, 26 points, 1.86 PPG = 47 points and highly likely we make the playoffs.
Here's the remaining schedule. It is tough.
Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 11.46.36 AM.png

Before yesterday's game Midas Mulligan Midas Mulligan posted a chart from a soccer numbers site that said our chances of making the playoffs was only 25% if we lost.
http://nycfcforums.com/index.php?threads/away-new-england-07-18.3317/page-6#post-91196
I think that estimate is in line with my scenarios. We're not dead, but we might be Mostly Dead ("Mostly dead is slightly alive.")
Look at the games remaining. Figure out which 6-8 games we will win to make the playoffs, and which are the only 4 we probably are allowed to lose. Note that we have away games against the top 4 teams in the league: Dallas, DC, Galaxy, Vancouver. If we lose each one we might not be able to lose one more and make the playoffs. Winning one buys us one loss elsewhere. Columbus away? One home game? Are going to go undefeated at home from here to the end of the season?

Those are the numbers, and the schedule. Make your projections knowing what now needs to be done.
 
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mgarbowski

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Three points I forgot to mention.
  1. One last variant. If we want to lose more than 4 games, even as many as 6, then 7 wins 6 losses and 1 tie puts us at 43 points and just probably squeaking in.
  2. I should note there is a non-zero chance of making the playoffs with fewer than 42 points. It's just not very likely.
  3. If we get the same PPG over our remaining 14 games as we did in the last 8, that's 1.75 * 14 = 24.5 for 45.5 points at season end. Round that up or down as you like. It's a decent shot at being in the playoffs, but compare our schedule for the previous 8 against the remaining 14.
 

413Blue

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Great job. I'm glad you broke it into several posts so I could give you a bunch of likes!

It's not going to be easy, but the eternal optimist in me tells me that we make it, and will be riding a hot streak going into the playoffs all the way to MLS Cup!
Maybe not lol, but if we have no major injuries come up, I do actually think this team is talented enough to truly contend for the Cup. It may be asking too much of Pirlo, Lampard, Angelino and Iraola to jump right in and be awesome, but if they can, I think we have an overall solid team. However, DP's generally have a bit of a learning curve when coming into the league, so I really like our chances next season!
Fully healthy and with no Nat duty, our lineup likely does not consist of the Grabavoy's and Brovsky's of the world.
 
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LionNYC

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After Orlando and Montreal, I think we face the toughest part of our schedule. We may not be facing Dallas or Vancouver during that time but after Montreal on 8/1, we face the Red Bulls away on 8/9 (Sunday). Then on 8/13 (Thursday) its DC at home. 6 days later on 8/19 (Wednesday) we're at Columbus. I don't even think the club will head back home because on 8/23 (Sunday) we're at LA.

That's 4 matches in the span of 15 days and a lot of travel in the later week depending on what the team does (i.e. fly back to New York then to LA). Then on 8/29 (Sunday) we face Columbus at home. So that's 5 matches in the span of 21 days. Then we finally have a full week off.

Following this off week, we face the tougher teams in the schedule: Dallas, Toronto, Vancouver, DC. However it's during a normal playing schedule.

I would love to see us heading into LA on a 5 game winning streak, however it's unlikely.
 
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Sabo

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I made this point on another thread yesterday but remember that first game against Orlando when Kaka got a late deflection off the free kick to tie the game? If that lucky shot doesn't go in we are in 6th place right now.

I would put more weight in projecting past performance into future points if we essentially had the same team going forward, but the starting 11 we field in August and September is going to be significantly better than the team we fielded in April and May. I don't believe there is any team in the Eastern Conference who is improving their lineup as much as we have. We are only out of the final playoff spot by 3 points -- 1 game. Not a bad position to be in right now.
 

Tom in Fairfield CT

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I made this point on another thread yesterday but remember that first game against Orlando when Kaka got a late deflection off the free kick to tie the game? If that lucky shot doesn't go in we are in 6th place right now.

I would put more weight in projecting past performance into future points if we essentially had the same team going forward, but the starting 11 we field in August and September is going to be significantly better than the team we fielded in April and May. I don't believe there is any team in the Eastern Conference who is improving their lineup as much as we have. We are only out of the final playoff spot by 3 points -- 1 game. Not a bad position to be in right now.
This is the positive outlook, but there may also not be a team with a tougher remaining schedule than us.
 
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mgarbowski

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I made this point on another thread yesterday but remember that first game against Orlando when Kaka got a late deflection off the free kick to tie the game? If that lucky shot doesn't go in we are in 6th place right now.

I would put more weight in projecting past performance into future points if we essentially had the same team going forward, but the starting 11 we field in August and September is going to be significantly better than the team we fielded in April and May. I don't believe there is any team in the Eastern Conference who is improving their lineup as much as we have. We are only out of the final playoff spot by 3 points -- 1 game. Not a bad position to be in right now.
To be clear, I'm not using past performance to predict NYCFC's future performance. I'm not preedicting NYCFC's future performance at all. and the points you make about the substantial lineup changes are good. I am using past performance league-wide, going back multiple years, to predict the cutoff point for 6th place.
I think optimism is good. I'm just trying to guage how optimistic we have to be to make the playoffs. As noted, 7-6-1 probably gets us there and that's only one more win than loss. Measure that against our schedule and decide for yourself. I find it hard to be optimistic here but I am hopeful. Subtle distinction but a real one to me.
On the other hand, I don't put much faith in arguments based on imagining the world if one very common, normal soccer thing that happened 20 weeks ago didn't happen. Also, in my opinion, looking at the point table when there is a 5-game-played spread among teams in the Eastern conference is not very useful, and I prefer to focus on PPG until that evens out. But if you disagree that's cool. Cheers!
 
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Midas Mulligan

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So, finally, what do we need to do over the remaining 14 games to reach the estimated magic numbers. Obviously there are a lot of variations to reach those levels but here are a couple.
Win 6 lose 4 tie 4, 22 Points, 1.57 PPG = 43 points and I think it's barely more than likely we squeak in.
Win 8 lose 4 tie 2, 26 points, 1.86 PPG = 47 points and highly likely we make the playoffs.
Here's the remaining schedule. It is tough.
View attachment 3053

Before yesterday's game Midas Mulligan Midas Mulligan posted a chart from a soccer numbers site that said our chances of making the playoffs was only 25% if we lost.
http://nycfcforums.com/index.php?threads/away-new-england-07-18.3317/page-6#post-91196
I think that estimate is in line with my scenarios. We're not dead, but we might be Mostly Dead ("Mostly dead is slightly alive.")
Look at the games remaining. Figure out which 6-8 games we will win to make the playoffs, and which are the only 4 we probably are allowed to lose. Note that we have away games against the top 4 teams in the league: Dallas, DC, Galaxy, Vancouver. If we lose each one we might not be able to lose one more and make the playoffs. Winning one buys us one loss elsewhere. Columbus away? One home game? Are going to go undefeated at home from here to the end of the season?

Those are the numbers, and the schedule. Make your projections knowing what now needs to be done.
Just an FYI, whether by the combinations of other results or some other factor, the website now says we have only a 20% chance of making the playoffs.

If we win this week, we'll get closer, possibly 25% or slightly better. It also wouldn't hurt to have Impact lose. Those are basically the two games that matter most for us right now. I'm writing off Chicago and Philly, as they have roughly 1 in 4 chances at best. Yes, this logic is only allowed here.