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The Effect of Scoring on Making the Playoffs

Score more goals, make the playoffs. But is that all there is to it? We take a deeper look at last season's results and what it might mean going forward.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City just barely missed out on the playoffs in its inaugural year, and the club has made it clear that missing out on a playoff berth in year two is unacceptable. While the club can undoubtedly improve in certain areas, let's take a look at goal scoring and see if scoring lots of goals ultimately results in a trip to the playoffs.

First let's take a look at the numbers:

Team Final Rank Goals Rank Attempts Goal/Attempt % Rank GD Rank
New York Red Bulls 1 62 1 476 13.02 1 19 1
Columbus Crew 2 58 2 464 12.5 2 5 2
Montreal Impact 3 48 5 434 11.1 7 4 3
D.C. United 4 43 8 373 11.5 6 -2 6
N.E. Revolution 5 48 5 388 12.37 4 1 4
Toronto F.C. 6 58 2 468 12.39 3 0 5
Orlando City SC 7 46 7 382 12 5 -10 8
New York City FC 8 49 4 446 10.98 9 -9 7
Philadephia Union 9 42 10 381 11.02 8 -13 9
Chicago Fire 10 43 8 467 9.2 10 -15 10

Now let's break it down further.

Total Goals

The New York Red Bulls and Columbus Crew scored the most and finished at the top of the table. After that, the impact of total goals falls away quite a bit. Toronto was tied for second in total goals, and only made it to the first round. Additionally, New York City FC was ranked fourth in total goals, but finished eighth overall. So while scoring goals certainly helps, it's not quite the only thing that matters.

Scoring Percentage (Goals/Total Shots)

Here again the Red Bulls and Crew finished top two, respectively. After that, each team's scoring percentage rankings relative to how they finished the season are a bit more mixed. Orlando City made the top five while missing the playoffs, and Montreal was seventh and earned a spot. That was the only two rankings that don't match the assortment of playoff eligible teams. Scoring percentage, then, seems to be a better indicator than total goals.

Goal Differential

Finally, let's look at goal differential. Once again, the Red Bulls and Crew finish one-two. Looking at the rest of the top six finishers, all of those teams also finished in the top six of goal differential. There are only two goals separating spots four through six, meaning their order in those spots isn't very significant. However, when we look at those that finished below the red line, they all had significantly negative goal differentials.


Looking at the numbers, it would seem that while all goals are important, and that a higher scoring percentage helps, it's goal differential that may make the difference in getting into the playoffs or not. While strikers get much of the glory, it takes a whole team to accomplish our objective this coming season. That is why each pick, trade, international call up, and injury matters. Keep that in mind as you examine the moves that Orlando City is making this off-season.