NWSL Elo 2016 Season Wrap-Up and 2017 Preview

As much as I try to convince myself that NWSL Elo is strictly a by-the-number exercise, I am fully a Thorns FC partisan and thus have been depressed ever since the semi-finals last fall and thus haven’t been able to bring myself to publish the NWSL Elo 2016 season wrap-up. Now that the 2017 season is about to kick off, I figured I’d better get to that.

So, how did things end up? At the end of the 2016 regular season, the Thorns (NWSL shield winners, you will recall) were had the best Elo in the league while other playoff teams Spirit, Red Stars and Flash were 3, 4 and 6 respectively. Reign, who missed the playoffs, were 2nd in Elo. That shows how dominant they were in 2014 and 2015, though we’ll get to that with the all-time graph below.
Spirit and Flash both saw Elo go up with their semi-final wins, of course, while Thorns and Red Stars’ fell, which meant Reign were #1 in NWSL Elo heading into the first final in 3 years they weren’t playing in. And the final itself went to penalty kicks, which is thus recorded a tie for both teams, meaning very little Elo movement.
On to all-time:
The Reign were simply dominant in 2014 and 2015. While FCKC had good regular seasons both years, it was winning at playoff time that really vaulted them up in Elo. Thorns similarly spiked up by winning the 2013 final.
2016 saw more parity, with the exception of the Breakers, who held the wooden spoon from beginning to end.
What will 2017 hold? No one knows, of course. As in previous years, NWSL Elo simply regresses everyone toward the mean (everyone holds same regular position, but are squished closer together).
Questions for 2017:
  • Will Boston continue to be the worst team in NWSL history?
  • Will the Reign return to playoffs glory and stay on top in Elo?
  • Will the Thorns repeat as NWSL Shield winners and top the Elo charts?
  • Will Orlando do better in their 2nd season than their late-season slide last year?
  • Will we see more parity or a return to single-team dominance?
  • Will I remember to change Flash to Courage by the time I publish this next?
Onward to the openers!
Comments on Twitter please. @TedSarvata
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