If there was a phrase used to describe week 27 of the MLS season it would be "holding serve" as RSL, Dallas and Los Angeles all won games they should have against MLS teams whose seasons will be over in three weeks.
The Supporter's Shield race is becoming a lot more clear now with three teams, all in the Western Conference, as the remaining contenders for the trophy. Sorry New York, but what is effectively a seven point gap to Los Angeles due to tiebreakers is too much to make up in three games. The Red Bulls are probably favorites to lift the Shield next season, but right now its a Western Conference party.
PTS GP GD
LAG 53 27 18
RSL 51 27 23
FCD 49 27 17
Last 5 games: 10 points
W @ Chivas, L vs Red Bulls, W vs United, W vs Crew, T @ Chicago
Next 3 games:
@ Philly, vs Rapids, vs FC Dallas
Why LA will win the Supporter's Shield:
After a run of just one win in six that allowed FCD and RSL to get back in the race, Los Angeles has finally rounded into form again. They've feasted on some of the lesser teams in the league lately and gained their confidence back. The Galaxy will be watching that RSL vs FCD game in a couple of weeks very closely as a draw in that game all but locks up the shield if they can win at Philadelphia this weekend. It may not be pretty, but the Galaxy grinded out wins in three of their last four games. A win this weekend would be absolutely massive to the Galaxy's hopes of winning the trophy as one slip between now and the FC Dallas game could open the door for Los Angeles to fall out of first place for the first time all season. Their main saving grace, however, is RSL's extremely tough close to the season and Dallas having to win at Salt Lake and the Galaxy to win the Shield.
Why LA won't win the Supporter's Shield:
Their margin for error is down to zero. Just one slip in the next two games opens the door for RSL or Dallas to control their own destiny. RSL has a tough schedule, but they're just two points behind with the tiebreaker while LA will surely want to avoid the scenario of having to hold off FC Dallas in a final game showdown for the Supporter's Shield. Despite their win against Chivas, Landon Donovan looks extremely tired and off form while you never know what Edson Buddle will show up on the day
Odds of winning the trophy: 1/3
Last 5 games: 11 points
W @ New England, T vs Rapids, W vs Fire, T @ Sounders, W vs New York
Next 3 games:
@ New York, vs FC Dallas, @ Rapids
Why RSL will win the Supporter's Shield:
Sitting just two points behind Los Angeles and with the goal differential tie breaker in their favor, RSL doesn't need a whole lot of slippage from the Galaxy to take over top spot. Briefly first place on Saturday night, Salt Lake would love nothing more than to take first place in the home of their rivals on the last day. With Alvaro Saborio banging in goals right and left, RSL is a hot team that hasn't lost in awhile and poses a dangerous threat to LA's Shield hopes.
Why RSL won't win the Supporter's Shield:
It will probably take at least two wins and hoping FC Dallas wins at Los Angeles to close the season for Salt Lake to lift the trophy and that's going to be a tough ask. With games left at two of the toughest places to play in the league, New York and Colorado, as well as their final home tilt against a team that hasn't lost since May, it's just tough to see where those points come from to pass up Los Angeles. You've got to think if FC Dallas is out of the Supporter's Shield race going into that last game at LA, they'll rest some of their starters so I'm afraid RSL will probably fall just short this year. More important for RSL is to secure home field advantage in the first round as a loss to Dallas could see that slip away from them.
Odds of winning the trophy: 5/1
Last 5 games: 9 points
W vs Chicago, W @ Kansas City, T vs Revolution, T vs New York, T @ San Jose
Next 3 games:
vs Rapids, @ RSL, @ Galaxy
Why FCD will win the Supporter's Shield:
Unlike RSL, the only thing Dallas needs to control their destiny in the fight for first place is a Los Angeles slip up at Philadelphia this weekend. A Dallas win at home against Colorado coupled with LA dropping points would pull Dallas to within no more than two points of both LA and RSL with the last two games of the season at those two teams. Unbeaten in a league record-tying 18 games, Dallas proved the three consecutive draws were not a sign of something worse as FCD has reeled off two very impressive wins in their last two games. With six goals in the last two games, the offense is on a roll while the defense is getting healthy and just pitched its first shutout in four games. Winning at RSL and LA will be an extremely tough task, but if Dallas can somehow manage to walk into the Home Depot Center on the night of Sunday, October 24 needing three points to win their first major trophy in almost 15 years, you've got to think they'll take their chance.
Why FCD won't win the Supporter's Shield:
Too many draws this season has left Dallas with no room for error. If the red and white fall a couple points short of the Shield, that 2-2 result against New England will be the draw that broke the camel's back(you like that?). There's no question whether FCD is talented enough to win at RSL but winning at a place where no one has won in well over a year is going to be a tough ask.
Odds of winning the trophy: 3/1
Do you think FCD can win the trophy? Do you even want Schellas to play the starters in the final game or are you in a wait and see after the Colorado game mode?