MLS: Number of Meaningless Games per Season (Updated)
|(Edited 2010-12-21 with final numbers, and a list of the games)|
The 2010 playoff berths are pretty much decided at this point. Seven of the eight teams are known, and it would take another collapse by the Colorado Rapids for them to miss out (and let Kansas City sneak in). It's unusual to see things nearly wrapped up with a few weekends left. There's less parity this season, and we're now in a situation where only half the teams in the league make the playoffs, the smallest percentage in league history (I'm not complaining, I wish it was even less).
How many games will actually be meaningless? The answer is very few. I've defined meaningless as any game which has no impact on the playoffs or the Supporters' Shield. So even though the playoff teams are almost decided, seeding still comes into play which makes plenty of games meaningful. There are only five games this season which will definitely lack any meaning. Two of them occurred this past weekend: CHV vs TOR and HOU vs NE. Only three of the remaining 18 are in that category as well. We could possibly see a couple more added on the final weekend, but I doubt more than eight total.
That's still a high for the seasons I've looked at. Here's some numbers for recent seasons:
Number of Meaningless Games per Season
Of course, this can't measure exactly how meaningful a game is. In my opinion, having fewer teams make the playoffs means that the games which are meaningful are worth more.
List of Games