With another goal-heavy result coming down in MLS with Sporting Kansas City beating New England Revolution 4-2, you'd be forgiven for thinking that results are getting crazier in MLS — that, on any given day, you might get to see some lopsided results.
That thought is inevitably bolstered by a 4-1 loss for Real Salt Lake against Montreal Impact and a 4-0 loss for LA Galaxy against Orlando City — and those aren't the only results that have been of a slightly outrageous sort.
But here's the thing: They're probably not actually getting crazier. In fact, what we might be seeing is a few wild results pinned up by generally lower scores than the past few years — is that parity? Is early season woes? Is it something else entirely we're not keyed into? Whatever the case, let's look at some numbers.
First up, let's look at the average goals scored in a match. While April trended slightly above the overall average for that month, it wasn't the highest-scoring month on record. In fact, both March and May, to date, are tied with the lowest-scoring months on record.
Chart A: Average goals scored per match by month, year
Of course, that might make us wonder if it's not that there are more goals being scored, but instead that scorelines are getting more lopsided. That's an option, too. But you'll see that March is .2 goals below the average for the month, April is .16 goals above the average, and May, at current, is down a fairly sizable amount.
Chart B: Average goal difference by month, year
Let's take one more stab at figuring this out, because to this point, we haven't seen anything that would make us bat our eyes wildly at the numbers. And those are, after all, the best statistics, aren't they?
So here we have a table of the average goal difference grouped by the year and the goals scored in the match. Thankfully, we can see that my numbers are doing well because we have zeroes for each game with zero goals. That's good.
But aside from that, these matches are trending right around what we saw other years, which forces us to wonder if it was all our imagination anyway — or, rather, if it's easier to forget which those awful scorelines. (Or you could blame Chivas USA. That's an option.)
Chart C: Average goal difference by year, goals scored in match
Finally, let's take a look at the inverse of that — we're grouping here by the score difference and averaging the goals scored. Again, we're kind of left clawing for meaning here, because we see that this season really isn't all that different.
Chart D: Average goals scored, grouped by goal difference
So that's that, right? Well, in the future, we can look at grouping it by team — then we can start to see if individual teams have gone on the drop while others have increased their winning chances.