When New York City FC defeated the Montreal Impact 3-1 on Sunday, they notched their sixth away win of the season. The Eastern Conference leaders have twice as many wins on the road as they do at their home field, Yankee Stadium. NYCFC and FC Dallas have nearly a third of all road wins between them, and if you add Toronto and Vancouver to the equation, those four teams account for nearly half of all road wins in a 20 team league.
The count of each type of MLS result, and the percent of the whole:
Home teams average 1.86 points per game in MLS, while away teams average 0.82. There are a number of factors to consider, but this seems to be another area where MLS doesn’t hold to international norms, where the win percentage for home teams is ~45%, depending on the league.
It’s tempting to say this is likely travel related, and there is probably something to that. MLS has teams in all four time zones, and there can be thousands of miles to match up against conference foes, never mind the occasional east-west clash.
Indeed, looking at the other national soccer league in the US, the numbers aren’t too dissimilar. Here’s the same information for the 2016 NASL season:
Home teams in NASL have a similarly strong advantage at home. Home teams average 1.81ppg, and road teams average .90.
Below MLS and NASL lies USL, which should be considered a regional, instead of national league. The Eastern and Western conferences rarely face off during the regular season, and the limits in travel also seem to affect results. The Eastern Conference:
And the Western Conference:
USL numbers tend to skew closer to international averages, which makes sense. Outside of Russia and China, there aren’t too many countries with teams traveling across multiple time zones to face each other.
All of this is to explain one facet of the power rankings, namely that I wanted to incorporate a degree of difficulty component to the results. This means a home win in MLS is scored as 3 points, while an away win counts much higher. So don’t be surprised by the team on top of the power rankings. They’re good, but this good? Maaaaaybe.