FiveThirtyEight — which is affiliated with ABC News and uses hard data and statistical analysis as the backbone of its sports, politics and economics content — curates results projections for most professional sports leagues, including domestic and international soccer.
The methodology for making the projections, which FiveThirtyEight updates after every match-day, takes into account team performance, league strength and variables from sources like Transfermarkt and Opta.
FiveThirtyEight’s soccer predictions are often cited by media covering MLS, particularly once the playoff race heats up in the late summer and fall.
The site says LAFC, which captured the Supporters’ Shield last year but crashed out of the MLS Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference semifinals, have a 25 percent chance of winning the league title and a 32 percent chance of taking the Supporters’ Shield for the second straight year.
FiveThirtyEight also gives LAFC a 95 percent chance of reaching the post-season, which is the highest percentage of any team league-wide by 17 percent.
Twelve of the 14 teams that clinched playoff berths last year have a better than 50 percent chance of returning to the post-season in 2020, the projections say. The exceptions are 2019 seventh-seed New England Revolution and fifth-seed D.C. United, which are currently projected to be out of the playoff picture. The two clubs are listed with 46 percent and 39 percent chances of making the playoffs, respectively.
Meanwhile, three teams that did not participate in the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs – Chicago Fire FC, Sporting Kansas City, and 2020 expansion side Inter Miami CF – are listed with a better than 50 percent chance of playing in the post-season in 2020. Chicago has a 65 percent chance, Sporting at 61, and Miami at 65.
Miami’s fellow expansion side, Nashville SC, has been given a 17 percent chance of reaching the post-season, which is currently the third-lowest figure in the league ahead of Vancouver Whitecaps FC (11 percent) and FC Cincinnati (five percent).
Defending MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders FC are listed with a 69 percent chance of making the post-season, a four percent chance of winning the Supporters’ Shield, and a nine percent chance of winning MLS Cup.
No team other than LAFC currently has a percentage chance in the double-digits to win a title.
FiveThirtyEight’s MLS projections as of preseason (Feb. 13):
|Team||Make Playoffs?||Win Supporters’ Shield?||Win MLS Cup?|
|Los Angeles FC||95%||32%||25%|
|New York City FC||77%||7%||7%|
|Chicago Fire FC||65%||4%||4%|
|Seattle Sounders FC||69%||4%||4%|
|Inter Miami CF||65%||4%||4%|
|New York Red Bulls||62%||3%||4%|
|San Jose Earthquakes||61%||3%||3%|
|Real Salt Lake||52%||1%||2%|
|Sporting Kansas City||51%||2%||2%|
|Columbus Crew SC||50%||2%||2%|
|Orlando City SC||36%||<1%||<1%|