MLS released its strength of schedule rankings for 2017, and Atlanta United was projected to have the league’s seventh toughest schedule in their debut season.
Unlike the NFL, where a team plays only thirteen teams a year in the regular season with strength of schedule calculated based on each opponent’s performance in the previous year, MLS clubs play each opponent at least once. But as the article notes, the factors that may affect this year’s SOS is the presence of two expansion clubs and how often they play each other.
Minnesota United actually have the league’s fifth-easiest schedule for 2017. Vancouver Whitecaps have the league’s most difficult slate, while Columbus Crew are at the bottom. It’s important to remember that these rankings (just like in any sport) don’t take into account roster attrition and additions, so calculating them is a little bit of an inexact science when you factor things like that in. It will be interesting to look back at the end of the year to see how each club fared in relation to their strength of schedule.
The toughest part of the AUFC schedule might be a tough away stretch at the end of March and through April when they visit defending MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders FC, Eastern Conference champion Toronto FC, Montreal Impact and Real Salt Lake.