ELO Ratings

What it takes to win the Champions League by Jacob Beckett

There's something great about knockout tournaments, especially involving teams that are completely unfamiliar with each other. NCAA March Madness and the World Cup are perfect examples; seeing your favorite team play against a relative unknown like Murray St. or Ghana carries a little extra intrigue than your average game against a conference opponent. For MLS fans, CONCACAF Champions League embodies this opportunity.

Increasingly, CCL has been painted as an MLS vs. Liga MX referendum, one in which MLS teams steadily gain but never overtake Mexico's dominant position in the region. But lost in that narrative is that CCL includes teams from a handful of other countries, too. These MLS-Liga MX matchups will get the majority of publicity (starting with Sporting KC-Toluca in the first knockout round), but seven other MLS/Liga MX teams have to knock off Central American or Caribbean opponents before those glamour matchups are set in stone. If you think these first round matchups are just a formality, just ask an FC Dallas fan how their campaign went last year (spoiler alert: they lost to Panamanian side Tauro before they even got to face a Mexican team).

Read More

Introducing MLS ELO Ratings by Tom Worville

Today I'm excited to debut my MLS Elo Ratings. The Elo Rating system itself was originally invented by Arpad Elo to rate chess players more effectively. It's not a perfect system for soccer, as the game is more fluid and random than chess, but it's a good indicator of under/over performance than basic stats alone provide. 

Elo is a zero sum system, meaning that sides are allocated equal points depending on the outcome of a game. It rewards more points to teams who cause upsets - so when the Chicago Fire beat the Seattle Sounders they were awarded a large number of points, and the same number of points were taken away from Seattle. 

Read More