|Just ignore the math and win!|
Bear in mind this is only stats, soccer is not an exact science and never very predictable. It is however very interesting to look at.
In 2014 there were only 10 teams in the league and each played each other three times totaling 27 games in a year. This year there are 11 teams so each will play 30 games in the year. I have used a very simple formula to account for that.
Looking at the final combined season table for 2014, the top four teams including spring and fall champions were as follows: Minnesota (55pts) San Antonio (52pts) New York Cosmos (42 points) and Ft. Lauderdale (40pts). Using an easy formula to translate this into a 30 game season (55pts / 27 x 30) then a similar season might see the top four being strung out between 61pts and 44pts this year.
I think 2015 has proven to be a tighter year competitively and we might not see that big gap in points between 2nd and 3rd as we did in 2014. For the sake of example I would say achieving 45pts would have to be Indy Eleven's goal to make the final four.
In 2014 Indy Eleven ended the combined season with an accumulated 27 points from 27 games. An average of 1.0 points per game. There was a definite improvement between spring and fall, Indy averaged 0.44pts per game in spring over nine games, and 1.44pts per game in fall over 18 games.
The spring of 2015 in comparison has been quite different to 2014, Indy finished with 13pts from 10 games, that's an average of 1.3pts per game. However after 7 games in fall our average points per game has dropped to 0.71 giving us an overall average of 1.06pts per game for 2015 after 17 matches.
In the combined standings, Indy currently sit on 18pts with 13 games to go. If the example of 45pts is a good enough guide for qualification, this means we would need to accumulate 27pts from the remaining 39 available. In other words we would need to achieve a 2.07pts per game average for the remaining thirteen games. I hate to say it but it sounds daunting when you look at it that way, no team currently in the NASL has achieved such an average this year, Even in Spring when the Cosmos remained undefeated, their PPG average was 2.0 (5 wins 5 draws).
Of the 13 remaining games, 6 are at home and 7 are away. If we win all of our home games this would bring 18pts and leave us requiring 9pts from 7 away matches. The latter is probably an easier task than winning all 6 of our home games! Is it impossible though?
I honestly think the league is going to be much closer this year, I don't think the combined winner will get 60+ points, and we may be looking at an overall spread of around 55 to 45 points for the top four. It's very close. Teams are having undefeated runs and poor spells, some longer than others.
If the law of averages ever applied and Ottawa continued through their remaining games with their average of 1.76pts per game for 2015, then they would accumulate a further 23pts and finish on 53. If the same formula was applied to Minnesota who currently are in 4th place, they would finish on 41 (so would Carolina). Tampa would finish on 49 and the New York Cosmos with a game in hand over Ottawa would finish on 54 and top the combined table.
All this is numbers and formulas of course, things may end much differently. But I will be surprised if the top four don't finish somewhere close to that 45-55 points range.
It's not impossible for Indy or many of the other teams because Soccer is not an exact science. We see winning streaks, losing streaks, ups and downs. Ottawa are on a long running streak right now, but you are only ever as good as your last game, a defeat at home for them against Minnesota in their next match can change the course of events for both sides. Indy themselves have had undefeated streaks, usually involving many draws though.
So for Indy to make the playoffs we really will need to get those 27 points, and that would require us to start and maintain our own undefeated streak, we will need to win games on the road which we know we can do, and we will need to try and win every single home game. This would take a huge effort on the part of everyone in the squad, all of the coaching staff and all of us as supporters.
I hope we make it, it would be a monumental achievement now if we do, we have to support it and get behind the team and make sure they know we are there. Regardless of what happens at the end of the year, I just want to see Indy Eleven play to the best of their abilities in every game, you can't ask for more than that. Better to lose when playing very well than just lose by playing terribly. The points are out there, go get them.
One game at a time! As Erick Norales said this week, it's not how it starts, it's how it ends that matters.