Breaking down Vancouver’s playoff chances with 10 matches to go

Playoff push

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Photo by Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

VANCOUVER, BC – Buckle up: the push for the playoffs is upon us.

It seems crazy, but Vancouver Whitecaps FC have just 10 matches remaining in the MLS regular season. As it stands, they sit just below the red line in the Western Conference, two points back of Portland Timbers for the final playoff spot.

It’s not the position they wanted to be in, but there’s still a lot of soccer left to be played.

“We knew it was going to be tight all along,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. “We’re not where we’d like to be, but we’ve got to deal with it. It’s probably a fair position based upon how we’ve performed in the first 24 games. It’s a great challenge to look forward to.”

And it starts this Friday night at BC Place with a massive West Coast clash against San Jose Earthquakes (8 p.m. PT on TSN1 – tickets still available). The Quakes are just two points back of the seventh-place ‘Caps with two games in hand. When it comes to games in August, they don’t get much bigger.

Get used to hearing that.

If we assume Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy are safely above the red line, six of Vancouver’s final 10 matches are against teams fighting for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“There’s no point taking a step back and getting scared. We’ve got to meet this challenge head on,” Robinson told reporters. “You learn about yourself and learn about your team when people write you off.”

Let’s take a closer look at Vancouver’s remaining schedule and playoff chances.

REMAINING SCHEDULE

HOME MATCHES

AWAY MATCHES

MATCHES VS. 
PLAYOFF TEAMS

MATCHES VS. NON-PLAYOFF TEAMS

5

5

5

5

REMAINING OPPONENTS

TEAM

CURRENT POSITION

San Jose Earthquakes (home and away)

8th (West)

Sporting Kansas City (away)

5th (West)

LA Galaxy (away)

4th (West)

New York Red Bulls (home)

3rd (East)

Columbus Crew SC (away)

9th (East)

Seattle Sounders FC (home and away)

9th (West)

Colorado Rapids (home)

2nd (West)

Portland Timbers (home)

6th (West)

Good luck trying to predict how that’s going to go. I’m not going to even bother.

Here’s what we know.

Based on the last three years, either 50 or 51 points would get you into the playoffs in the Western Conference. That means Vancouver would need 20 points from their final 10 matches to solidify their spot – a lofty average of two points per game.

However, it’s looking like the threshold might be a bit lower in 2016.

According to Sports Club Stats’ weighted method, which predicts the scores of the remaining games taking into account home field advantage and team records, a 47-point season gives Whitecaps FC an 86 per cent chance of qualifying for the playoffs this season.

That would look something like 5W-3L-2D or 4W-1L-5D in Vancouver’s remaining matches. Even 46 points (5W-4L-1D or 4W-2L-4D down the stretch) gives them more than a 70 per cent chance.

There’s a significant drop in likelihood with any lower point total.

At the end of the day, though, the numbers and percentages are just that. Trying to predict all the different scenarios at this point will drive you crazy – trust me, I would know.

If nothing else, I think we can safely say this race is going down to the wire.

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