A few short months ago, we recorded a podcast in which we discussed the teams likely to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. At the time, we did not think Colorado would get in, but now—after a surprising win in Los Angeles—the Rapids find themselves very much in the thick of the playoff race.
As of May 31st, Colorado had earned 19 points from 13 games and sat in 5th place out west. Additionally, the Rapids’ 1.03 attempts ratio was 6th in the conference, while our shot locations data suggested an expected goal differential essentially tied for 4th. Perhaps we shouldn’t have discarded them so quickly.
Now with more information, we’ve seen how shot ratios help to predict the future as well as anything in soccer. The predictions aren’t awesome, but better than if we were to use goal differential or standings. Colorado has found itself still in playoff contention, and I think it is worth revisiting the playoff chances for the Western Conference’s mile-high team.
Now, 28 weeks into the season, Colorado has improved its shots ratios and expected goal differential to second in the conference, just behind the Galaxy on both accounts. But while Colorado could very well be one of the top teams in the West, its remaining schedule is pretty brutal. Of its last six matches, five of them come against Dallas, Portland, San Jose and Vancouver (twice). Those are the four teams fighting along with the Rapids for the final two playoff spots. The other game on their schedule just so happens to be Seattle, the current favorite to win the Supporters’ Shield. There is not a single cupcake on the schedule, and losses will be far more costly than if they were against Eastern Conference foes.
While the best predictions using shots data still leaves much to be desired, that data would in fact pick Colorado as the second best team in the West. However, playing a tough schedule against opponents shooting for the same playoff spot, there is so much weight on just a few games. I’d pick Colorado to be one of those top five in the tables at the end, but it’s not a gimme pick.
Let’s say, ooooh, 55%.