Nobody will truly be convinced until the odds are 100 per cent, but Toronto FC are statistically closer than ever before to making the Major League Soccer playoffs. After defeating Orlando City SC by a resounding 5-0 margin this weekend TFC are now have a 98.4 per cent weighted chance of making the MLS post season for the first time ever.
That number comes from Sports Club Stats, which uses an algorithm to simulate the likelihood of all possible outcomes remaining in the MLS season based on current wins, losses,points, games in hand and goal difference for each team.
Even using a 50/50 outcome, which gives teams equal chances of winning each match and does not compute any other data, Sports Club Stats estimates Toronto have a 91.3 per cent chance of making the playoffs.
The algorithm also calculates home field advantage, which definitely adds to Toronto's high playoff odds. Toronto FC have seven of their final 10 Major League Soccer games at BMO Field, where they have six wins, one draw and 3 losses this season for 2.1 points per game at home. Should that form continue, they would collect 14 points from their remaining home games, which would almost certainly be enough to see them wrap up a playoff spot.
To have a good chance to make the playoffs, of 78 per cent or higher, Toronto need just 8 points in its remaining ten games. To have an outstanding chance, 99 per cent or better, Toronto FC would need 11 points.To guarantee their first ever playoff berth they need 17 points.
While Toronto have a low probability of dropping out of the playoff picture, they also how a low statistical chance of moving any higher in the standings. The chances Toronto win the Eastern Conference are just 5 per cent, and they currently sit at an 18 per cent chance of finishing second.
The most likely finish for Toronto at this stage of the season would be between third and fourth, which they have a 34 per cent and 21 per cent chance of finishing in respectively according to Sports Club Stats.
Winning the supporter's shield at this stage of the season is also incredibly unlikely for Toronto FC, which comes at no surprise. In order to have a better than 50 per cent chance Toronto would need a record of at least 9 wins and a single loss in their remaining 10 matches.
The closest Toronto had previously come statistically to the playoffs, according to Sports Stats club, was in August of 2014 when they had a 93.6 per cent chance. This was before the firing of Ryan Nelsen, which saw Toronto's chances tumble to below 40 per cent by mid September.
In many ways this is a cautionary tale, numbers are never everything especially with 10 games left in a season and plenty still up in the air. A club like Toronto has always found a way to lose against all odds, as small as those odds may be. The city is infamous for seeing its sports team's collapse down the stretch.
Until those odds are 100 they have little relevance in this city, but they also don't lie. The playoffs are only four wins away for Toronto FC, and for once the numbers are in their favour.