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Chivas USA 2013 Postmortem: Points earned by conference

Did they perform better against one conference than the other? You bet they did.

Chivas held serve against the East in 2013.
Chivas held serve against the East in 2013.
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Should Chivas USA be playing in the Eastern Conference?

Well, geographically it makes no sense, and teams are almost never allowed to pick a conference. But after crunching the numbers on the Goats' points picked up in 2013 by team, a very clear trend emerges concerning the conference breakdown.

Consider first the points haul by team and across the Eastern Conference:

Team Total points available Points earned by Chivas
Chicago Fire 3 3
D.C. United 3 3
New York Red Bulls* 3 3
Toronto FC 3 3
Montreal Impact* 3 1
New England Revolution* 3 1
Columbus Crew 3 0
Houston Dynamo* 3 0
Philadelphia Union 3 0
Sporting Kansas City* 3 0
Total 30 14

* 2013 MLS Cup playoff team

Now there are still four teams that didn't concede any points to Chivas in 2013, and the total points percentage is 47 percent for the Eastern Conference. Not great, but consider that as a benchmark, the Supporters' Shield-winning team in 2013, the New York Red Bulls, earned 58 percent of the total available points. Furthermore, the playoff team with the fewest points this season was Montreal, who earned 48 percent of their total available points. Essentially, Chivas was right on the margin of a playoff pace based on their results in the Eastern Conference this season, believe it or not.

Now, what's the breakdown for Chivas and the Western Conference in 2013?

Team Total points available Points earned by Chivas
FC Dallas 9 4
Vancouver Whitecaps 9 4
Colorado Rapids* 9 1
LA Galaxy* 9 1
Portland Timbers* 9 1
San Jose Earthquakes 9 1
Real Salt Lake* 9 0
Seattle Sounders* 9 0
Total 72 12

* 2013 MLS Cup playoff team

Obviously, the points haul from Chivas' own conference was nothing short of pathetic. If they were on a borderline playoff pace in their results against the East, they took a measly 17 percent of their points from the West in 2013. D.C. United took only 11 percent of available points against their own conference, or else Chivas might have set the mark for in-conference futility during the season. Adding to Chivas' woes concerning their record against the West is the fact that they could not get a majority of points against any opponent. Clearly, a playoff team needs to get at least two wins against some sides.

Although the Goats were able to take points off the East much more easily, there is of course the important caveat that is the unbalanced MLS schedule. With teams playing in-conference opponents three times and out-of-conference opponents just once, the reality is that games against the East were effectively winner-take-all contests, and Chivas had a knack at picking up wins against Eastern opposition twice as often as teams in the West. That they earned more points from Eastern clubs demonstrates just how poor they were at getting results in their own conference, since they had more than twice the available points.

One of the interesting, though perhaps unsurprising trends I found was that five of Chivas' six wins on the season came against teams that failed to make the playoffs. The sixth win? It came against the Red Bulls, who won the Supporters' Shield. In the end, Chivas' points distribution mirrored their place in the standings, but at least that win against New York indicated the maxim that despite the track record, any team really can beat any team in MLS at least some of the time.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

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