Tuesday, February 05, 2013 :::
The final round of Word Cup qualifying for North America starts tomorrow. Six teams will play a double round-robin, scoring three points for a win, one for a draw, and zero for a loss; the top three will go to the big event in Brazil and the fourth will have a winnable play-in match, probably against New Zealand, for another spot.
The following table contains the American team's schedule along with a "par score" that I made up to estimate whether the American team is on track. In the last couple of cycles, 17.5 points has been enough to qualify comfortably but not too comfortably, so I figure if we're on track to collect 17.5 points, we're in good shape, and if we aren't, we're at risk of not making it to Brazil. That obviously isn't a guarantee, but it looked like a reasonable conservative estimate to me. In the matches in the last qualifying hexagonal tournament, the home team averaged 1.5 points more than the visiting team, so I expect 1.5 points more out of each home game than out of the road game against the same team. Finally, some of our opponents are stronger than others, so I picked some numbers that seemed reasonable and add up to five - if our team gets a total of five points from its road matches and 12.5 from its home matches, a trip to Brazil is probable.
|When||Who||Where||Game Par||Cumulative Par|
UPDATE: The advantage of using a "par score" over just following the standings is that the standings don't reflect how difficult a team's schedule has been vs. how difficult it will be. But I believe that the teams play a complete round robin followed by another complete round robin - i.e., we play each other team exactly once before Flag Day and exactly once after Flag Day. So after the matches of June 11, a much better heuristic would be to look at the standings after adding 1.5 points per remaining home game (some teams will have three remaining and others will have two). As it happens, the American team's schedule is slightly tilted toward playing tougher games earlier, so if we stay in the top three of the standings, we're probably in good shape.
Labels: soccer, sports
::: posted by Steven at 6:40 PM