MLS: Last Undefeated & Winless Teams
|A month into the 2007 MLS season, and as always, some teams are hot and some aren't. Currently, there are three teams that are still undefeated (CHI, CLB, NY) and three that are still winless (DC, RSL, TOR). I went back and looked over the past 11 seasons to figure out who the last undefeated and winless teams were in each season. How did those teams end up fairing at the season's end?|
I should note that I went not by the date, but by the number of games. Also, the 1996-9 seasons count shootouts as draws (as usual on this blog). That may not be totally correct to use here, but if I compare it to other seasons then of course I'm going to do it that way.
So in only 4/11 years did the last undefeated team win the MLS Cup. In 6/11 years they at least made it there, and also 6/11 years won the Supporters' Shield for the league's best record.
What about the final records? Only one of the 16 teams ended with a losing record: 2004 DAL (10-14-6). Interesting that in 2001 all of those teams ended up doing well despite the very short streaks.
12/16 teams advanced past the first round of the playoffs (2004 DAL didn't make it altogether).
Shouldn't be a surprise to realize that like the previous list, only 2/15 teams here ended up with a winning record (1997 LA, 2004 CLB). However, in only 2/11 years did a team here finish with the league's worst record (vs 6/11 Supporters' Shield in the previous section). So maybe it's easer to pull yourself out of a hole than to sink into one? Doesn't seem to work that way for the Premiership's top and bottom clubs at xmas though.
One team here made it to the MLS Cup (2002 NE) and one won the Supporters' Shield (2004 CLB). The Revs weren't a great team, but the Crew really turned things around somehow...despite Greg Andrulis. Although they were the worst winners statistically of that award (1.63 ppg).
Despite the poor records, 8/15 did end up making the playoffs. But only the 2002 Revs advanced past the first round. Ouch, 1/15. I guess that despite improvements, the end results still aren't good.
Overall, the average number of games on these lists are 6.625 for the undefeated teams and exactly 5.00 for the winless teams. That's only about 20% of a season, but in general it seems that 5-7 games into the season may be enough to seal your fate. I'm not going to take any significant conclusions from this analysis other than the obvious (good teams are good, bad teams are bad), because it's not like there's something inherently special about being the last undefeated or winless team. I just find it interesting to see how those teams end up, and that's a bit of analysis you rarely see in sports.