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Home and Away: Breaking out the numbers as we look at MLS patterns

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

As we are sometimes wont to do, we speculate on statistical implications without having a good look at the data. Rather than fire our statistical cannons in the air aimlessly, let's take a closer look. We'll start with the data.

Points per game, home team

2012 2013 2014 Avg.
Chicago Fire 2.12 1.94 1.25 1.77
Chivas USA 0.71 1.12 0.93 0.92
Colorado Rapids 1.47 2.00 1.44 1.64
Columbus Crew 2.12 1.41 1.75 1.76
D.C. United 2.35 0.76 2.13 1.75
FC Dallas 1.53 1.88 2.27 1.89
Houston Dynamo 2.29 1.90 1.87 2.02
LA Galaxy 1.82 2.06 2.40 2.09
Montreal Impact 1.94 1.94 1.40 1.76
New England Revolution 1.59 1.72 2.00 1.77
New York Red Bulls 2.18 2.18 2.07 2.14
Philadelphia Union 1.25 1.53 1.53 1.44
Portland Timbers 1.59 2.24 1.44 1.75
Real Salt Lake 2.06 2.11 2.13 2.10
San Jose Earthquakes 2.12 2.24 1.25 1.87
Seattle Sounders 2.06 1.84 2.27 2.06
Sporting Kansas City 2.00 1.83 1.40 1.74
Toronto FC 0.82 1.18 1.44 1.15
Vancouver Whitecaps 1.76 1.88 1.81 1.82
Average 1.78 1.78 1.72 1.76

Right, here we're looking at points earned per game. For convenience, we've highlighted teams who have averaged over two points per game this year. We've bolded teams who have averaged two points per game over the last three years.

It's interesting to note that Real Salt Lake has remained consistent over the past three years. Two teams are leading the pack this year, and it should come as no surprise that we're looking at LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders. Let's quickly move on to points per game for away teams.

Points per game, away team

2012 2013 2014 Avg.
Chicago Fire 1.24 0.94 0.87 1.01
Chivas USA 1.12 0.44 0.81 0.79
Colorado Rapids 0.59 0.94 0.60 0.71
Columbus Crew 0.94 1.00 1.00 0.98
D.C. United 1.06 0.18 1.29 0.84
FC Dallas 0.76 0.71 0.88 0.78
Houston Dynamo 0.82 1.18 0.69 0.90
LA Galaxy 1.35 0.94 1.40 1.23
Montreal Impact 0.56 0.94 0.25 0.58
New England Revolution 0.47 1.28 1.07 0.94
New York Red Bulls 1.18 1.22 0.81 1.07
Philadelphia Union 0.76 1.18 1.00 0.98
Portland Timbers 0.41 1.19 1.38 0.99
Real Salt Lake 1.29 1.32 1.06 1.22
San Jose Earthquakes 1.76 0.76 0.60 1.04
Seattle Sounders 1.24 1.00 1.63 1.29
Sporting Kansas City 1.71 1.53 1.56 1.60
Toronto FC 0.53 0.53 1.13 0.73
Vancouver Whitecaps 0.76 0.94 0.93 0.88
Average 0.98 0.96 1.00 0.98

Here, we've highlighted teams with points-per-game at 1.2 or higher this season and bolded teams averaging 1.2 or higher.

We see our top teams as the ones we'd expect, but we do see an interesting thing: Sporting KC, the best away team in the league (when considering points-per-game) over the last three years, has been earning more points on the road this season than they have at home.

What's this all mean for Real Salt Lake?

  • We don't have a chance to hit the 1.2 points per away game this season, with 1.18 being our max — and we've just to win in Portland for that one. ("Just.")
  • With two wins in our last two home matches, we could equal Portland's 2012 home PPG rate. A solid mark if there ever was one. 2012's leader, D.C. United, could be stripped by LA Galaxy or, potentially, Seattle Sounders.
  • Real Salt Lake has definitely struggled on the road this season .While our home points-per-game has improved year-on-year, our away points-per-game has taken a substantial dip. We're still above the league average (1.00 this season — meaning away teams average a draw.)
  • It's nice getting some confirmation that our road woes aren't imaginary. We've not been horrid — leave that to Colorado Rapids — but we're outdone by the likes of Toronto FC.