clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Never Tell Me the Odds

In which our heroes achieve a crucial CCL victory and now control their own destiny. Sort of.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

So before the match last night (and what a match, m i rite?) there was some banter about how important this match was, and how it could in fact be THE defining match of the CCL group. Now that it's all said and done, I was curious to find out how true that was (no match ratings for this one, something I've been remiss in lately, apologies). Turns out that, yeah, getting a two goal win was a really good thing (obviously), but by no means does that close the door just yet.
The short summary...
Sporting Kansas City now tied on points with Saprissa, and ahead on head-to-head GD, with a game in hand, so things are looking up, but they still need to play Saprissa on the road. A win against Saprissa and Sporting goes through in any scenario. A one goal loss would also put them through, provided Sporting beats Real Estelli. A draw against Estellia and any loss to Saprissa means Sporting go out. Two losses and sporting is out.
There are two scenarios that are kind of complex... If sporting beats Estelli by one goal, then loses to Saprissa by two goals, Sporting and Saprissa both sit on 7 points with a head to head GD of 0 and it would go to away goals, of which Saprissa already has one, so it would depend on the way Sporting loses to Saprissa. A 0 - 2 loss would put Saprissa through. A 3 - 1 loss would push it to overall goal difference, and would have Sporting at +1 with Saprissa at +3, so they'd advance.
If Sporting beats Estelli by two goals they would still go out on GD with a 3 - 1 loss, at +2 and +3.
If Sporting beats Estelli by three goals, then loses to Saprissa by 3 - 1, it would go to total group goals scored and... yeessh. It gets complicated quick. Any scenario that involves Sporting losing to Saprissa by two goals involves the manner in which they lose, and by how much they score against Saprissa.
Here is a rough breakdown of advancement scenarios, though I'm sure there's errors all over.
To come up with percetage estimates, I looked at Sporting's season long average GD per game (+0.3) and the standard deviation of GD per game (+/- 1.8) and assumed a normal distrubtion. So the breakdown of predicted results, ranging from a 6 goal loss to a 6 goal win, looked something like this.
Odds of a six goal loss = 0.02%
Odds of a five goal loss = 0.11%
Odds of a four goal loss = 0.57%
Odds of a three goal loss = 2.35%
Odds of a two goal loss = 6.99%
Odds of a one goal loss = 16.47%
Odds of a draw = 30.17%
Odds of a one goal win = 24.53%
Odds of a two goal win = 12.15%
Odds of a three goal win = 4.72%
Odds of a four goal win = 1.41%
Odds of a five goal win = 0.32%
Odds of a six goal win = 0.06%
So this estimates that sporting wins 43% of their games, draws 30%, and loses 27%. Those numbers are in decent agreement with this season, as Sporting have won 45%, drawn 21%, and lost 34%.
Good enough for this effort, at least... Roughly.
So you can see, the most likely scenario (Sporting draw both games) puts us through. Overall at this point, Sporting look to have a roughly 72% chance of advancing, a 20% chance of not going through, and then there's 8% worth of tie-breaker scenarios that are challenging to evaluate yet.
Overall I think the two goal win was sort of a big deal. In knockout tournements like this I think teams should generally be expected to win their home match by one goal. Having a second goal as a buffer really makes life easier when playing the away leg. Having a game in hand is also icing on the cake. Just a draw against Estelli means that Saprissa will need to play for a win and boosts SKCs advancement odds up by about 9%. Beating Estelli means Saprissa will need to win by more than one.
At the end of the day, of course, these numbers mean nothing. The really important part in my mind is Sporting is now in the driver's seat. And all of this is predicated on the notion that the only important thing is advancing from the Group, which I don't think is neccessarily true. We saw last year how important seeding in the next round is, so I'd really really like to see two wins and 10 points.
So, yeah. Good game. Good result. We're in good shape. But nothing is over yet, and we all know that sometimes Sporting likes to make games... well... interesting. Still, this is a competition I realy like and I'd love to make a deep run this year.
And if you catch any errors in my scenario analysis (I'm sure there's some), please let me know in the comments and I'll try to correct.