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Wednesday, August 24, 2011
RBNY Notes: Home field holds the key to Red Bulls' playoff hopes

By Matthew Artus

Over at his insightful blog Soccer by the Numbers, Chris Anderson followed a post that summarized the effects of home-field advantage in the English Premier League by observing that Manchester United maximized its ability to collect draws on the road in addition to winning at home en route to winning the 2010-11 EPL division title.

Inspired by Chris's efforts, here's a look at the effects of a home-field advantage in MLS during the Red Bulls era (2007-present):
So how does this affect the Red Bulls over their final eight games? For starters, five of their final matches will take place at Red Bull Arena. As previously demonstrated, MLS sides win twice as many matches as they lose at home. For a New York side praying for another 12 points in the standings to feel better about its postseason hopes, that's a phenomenon that could provide an edge as long as the back line can make a few leads stand up.

More importantly, two of New York's remaining three away games will occur in the two matches preceding their final regular season game at home against the Philadelphia Union on October 20.  The ratios suggest that New York may have accumulated too many draws at the expense of road wins and likely can't sustain that during a postseason push.

Those two away matches -- October 1 at Toronto FC, October 15 at Sporting Kansas City -- will come at a pivotal time in the stretch run. If New York fails to accrue victories in September, that road trip represents what could be the last chance to undo that damage. Draws don't fix things; only wins will do that.