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Race for the Supporter's Shield: Week 21

Supporter's Shield

With 10 weeks to go in the season and FC Dallas near the top of the standings, it's time to take a serious look at the Race for the Supporter's Shield awarded to the best MLS team through all 30 games.

All of our information is taken from a great website called Setting the Table.

Currently there are probably 4 teams with a shot at the Supporter's Shield...Los Angeles, Columbus, Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas. I suppose an argument for New York could be made, but making up 12 points in 10 games and jumping 4 teams is pretty much impossible.

A look at the standings, upcoming schedules and completely arbitrary odds after the jump

First, let's take a look at the standings to see where everyone is at.

Last 5 Games: 7 points

W @ New York, L vs Fire, T vs San Jose, W @ DC United, L @ Revolution

Next 5 Games:

@ San Jose, vs Wizards, @ Chicago, vs Columbus, vs DC United

Why LA will win the Supporter's Shield:

With 6 of their last 10 at home and just 4 of their last 10 against playoff teams, Los Angeles is in the pole position and the clear favorites to win the Supporter's Shield. They've got Donovan, Buddle, and Beckham has began training again with a return within a month or so on the cards. Without Concacaf Champions League to distract them, the Galaxy can focus completely on the league.

Why LA won't win the Supporter's Shield:

Los Angeles has hardly been in Supporter's Shield form lately with just 11 points in their last 8 games. Donovan has failed to impress since coming back from the World Cup looking tired and in need of the off-season he hasn't had in a couple of years. Integrating David Beckham back into the team could be a blessing or a curse for the Galaxy as well with late-season lineup changes generally disrupting teams.

Odds of winning the trophy: 2/4

Last 5 Games: 9 points

W vs Columbus, T @ Philly, T @ Wizards, W vs DC United, T vs Chivas USA

Next 5 games:

@ Toronto, vs Red Bulls, @ Seattle, vs Fire, vs Rapids

Why Real Salt Lake will win the Supporter's Shield:

There's not a tougher team to beat at home in MLS. With a record of 8-3-0 at home and a home unbeaten streak that goes back well into last season, Salt Lake is a good bet to win every home game left. RSL also has arguably the best group of forwards in the league outside of New York with Alvaro Saborio, Robbie Findley and Fabian Espindola.

Why Real Salt Lake won't win the Supporter's Shield:

They have 11 games in the next 7 weeks with the start of the Concacaf Champions League and have also played one game more than the teams they're competing against. With 7 games in the month of September, I can't see RSL being able to keep up with the rest of the top teams while playing the CCL schedule. It shouldn't be a problem heading into the playoffs, but I think it will prevent RSL from seriously challenging for the Supporter's Shield. Also with just 4 home games left and a pretty tough schedule, it's going to be extremely difficult for Jason Kreis' men to lift that trophy.

Odds of winning the trophy: 4/1

Last 5 games: 9 Points

W @ Union, L @ Chivas, W vs Houston, W vs Red Bulls, L vs Wizars

Next 5 games:

vs Rapids, vs FC Dallas, @ DC United, @ LA Galaxy, vs Seattle

Why Columbus will win the trophy:

The two-time defending Supporter's Shield champions know exactly what it takes to win the Shield. They've been there, done that with a CCL schedule and will be in the race until the end. They've still got games left against FC Dallas and Galaxy that will be crucial to retaining their trophy, but it's a good bet that Columbus will stay near the top going into October.

Why Columbus won't win the trophy:

With a couple of Supporter's Shield trophies to their name, Columbus will be very focused on bigger and better things this year, namely the CCL and staying healthy heading into the end of the season. Much like RSL, their September is killer with 8 games including the US Open Cup. They'll have to get a result at the HDC against Los Angeles to have a chance at keeping the top spot.

Odds of winning the trophy: 6/1

Last 5 games: 11 points

W @ DC United, W vs Philly, T @ Rapids, T @ Toronto, W vs RSL

Next 5 games:

vs Chivas, @ Crew, vs Toronto, @ San Jose, vs New York

Why FC Dallas will win the Supporter's Shield:

They're the best team in MLS at the moment and haven't been beaten in three months. They've been doing it at home with a 5-3-1 record and on the road where they boast a 9-game unbeaten streak, tied for longest in MLS history. Their 21 points from the last 9 games has drastically closed what looked like an insurmountable gap to the Galaxy. With a game in hand and a game left at Los Angeles, the 10 point gap isn't nearly as large as it may seem. With road games left against the three teams above them, Dallas will have every chance to close the gap further while RSL and Columbus are worrying about CCL.

Why FC Dallas won't win the Supporter's Shield:

FC Dallas has done a remarkable job beating up on the weaker teams in MLS. Their 7-0-4 record against non-playoff teams has gotten them in the Supporter's Shield discussion, but now comes the business end of their schedule. While their road games left against the three teams above them will give Dallas an opportunity to gain ground in the standings, those three games could also be their demise. With games at RSL and Los Angeles to close the season, the Supporter's Shield race could come right down to the wire for FCD.

Odds of winning the trophy: 5/1