MLS is a pretty unbalanced league. Each team plays 26 games against its own conference, and just eight against the other conference - but the standings only show the overall picture. With that in mind, I’ve calculated the conference-only standings for MLS - and it’s got some interesting notes about what we might expect come playoff time.
Here are the standings. Conference record comes first, then overall. MLS tiebreakers are number of wins, then goal difference.
|1||Los Angeles FC||45||14-9-3||46-33||13||67||21-9-4||66-38||28|
- LAFC had by far the best record of any team against the opposite conference, with 22 points in eight games. When you remove the games against the East, though, LAFC doesn’t look like the dominant all-conquering squad that the overall standings say they are.
- Austin drops all the way out of the playoffs in the conference-only standings, as do the Galaxy.
- Portland missed the playoffs because the Timbers managed only seven points against the East. In fact, all three Cascadia teams managed seven points or fewer in their cross-conference matchups.
|4||New York City||40||12-10-4||45-39||6||55||16-11-7||57-41||16|
- Part of the reason for doing this was to find out which conference did better against the other this year. I’m here to report that the West won 40 games against the East, the East won 40 games against the West, and there were 32 draws. However, the East scored 157 goals to the West’s 156. Therefore, by a margin of one goal, the Eastern Conference is obviously the superior conference.
- Congratulations to Montréal, the Eastern Conference champions (in this alternate universe)!
- Poor Columbus. Not only did they choke away a playoff berth this year, but now we know that if it hadn’t been for their failures against the Western Conference, they still might have made the playoffs.
- D.C. United had the worst overall record and the worst intra-conference record this season, but San Jose had a worse inter-conference record. So there you go, D.C., that’s the silver lining.
At any rate, congratulations to your 2022 MLS Supporters’ Shield conference champions, Montréal and LAFC.