Toronto FC's first home game is Sunday. Which brought about this article providing a broad explanation regarding home field advantage for the boys in red. But... it was incomplete.
While the article clearly showed Toronto FC plays better at home than they do away, and explained some of the underlying reasons for their improved play at BMO field, it failed to address one question that many in the WTR community are curious about.
We know that TFC has been a bad team historically, there's no way to sugarcoat it. They've been horrendous away from home, and arguably only "pretty bad" kicking the ball around BMO. But all teams, for the most part, play at least slightly better at home than they do away. How does TFC's difference in play (away vs. at home) compare to other teams' home field advantage?
To further probe this query, four teams have been selected for a comparison with TFC's numbers. Two teams who have a reputation as being intimidating to play against in their respective venues, Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders, were both included in this analysis. Sporting Kansas City, a side that has often seemed to struggle on the road and yet experience great success at home, was also added to the analysis. And the final team to make the cut was one with almost (I said almost) as bleak a history as Toronto FC- Eastern Conference foe and TFC "reject" Conor Casey's club, the Philadelphia Union.
Similar to the previous article, the numbers below simply include average points per game, both at home and away, for all five teams- as well as the historical average of those numbers.
|Year||TFC home PPG||TFC away PPG||SEA home PPG||SEA away PPG||RSL home PPG||RSL away PPG||SKC home PPG||SKC away PPG||PHI home PPG||PHI away PPG|
Now looking at the difference in average points per game at home versus average points per game away for all five teams, RSL actually has the biggest differential at 0.99. Toronto FC comes in at second with 0.72, Philadelphia come in third at 0.66, Seattle fourth with 0.55, and SKC fifth at 0.47. Interestingly Seattle and SKC are also the only two teams who actually performed better on the road than at home over the course of a season- Seattle did so in 2011, while SKC played better on the road just this past season.
Now this still doesn't prove much. The argument can be made that SKC and Seattle are both intimidating to play in their own stadium, but are simply also very dangerous on the road. The only thing this really shows is that historically, the difference in Toronto FC's performance when they have played at BMO Field versus on the road is greater than that same home/away difference for several other teams in MLS.
No, it doesn't mean Toronto FC are a good home team. But it does provide some reassurance that however TFC plays on the road, they tend to do significantly better at home. In other words, Toronto FC do, in fact, emjoy a significant home field advantage, and hopefully this will play in their favor come Sunday's opening kick.