Home Field Dis-Advantage
|A lot has been made this year over the home struggles of the Chicago Fire and the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Fire are doing much better away (1.64 PPG) than at home (1.29 PPG). The Galaxy were in that same boat, but they've won their last two home games and are now sporting equal marks (1.57 PPG) home and away. The Wizards are also close to being equal (home = 4-5-4, away = 4-6-4).|
What the Fire and Galaxy are doing is rare historically in Major League Soccer. I've covered home field advantage before; the number is around 0.67 PPG for all of MLS history. So for the Fire to have a -0.35, that's on pace for the second lowest mark in league history. In fact, only nine of the 149 team seasons from 1996-2008 have seen a team's away record be equal to or better than their home record. Those teams are:
A mix of teams good and bad. There are two MLS Cup winners in the group, though both excelled in both categories (like 2009 LA) rather than being poor at home (2009 CHI). As always, I'm counting shootouts as draws.
How have these nine teams done in the playoffs? Would you expect them to do better on the road there as well? First, four of them failed to qualify. Of the other five, the results are as follows:
Anyway, expecting home and/or away form to carry over into the small sample size that is the MLS playoffs isn't very realistic. One of the top ten disparities on the other side (that is, playing much, much better at home) was last year's New York Red Bulls, and they ended up winning two straight away games to make the final.
I don't expect the home/away records of Chicago and LA to have an impact on this year's playoffs. I certainly don't think Fire fans should want their team to get a lower seed so they can play more away games. That's not going to help.