clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Part 2: The self-important hack's guide to the Supporters' Shield race

New, comments

With a couple of weeks left, the picture has become much clearer.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

A little over a month has passed since I first threw up my dartboard of hackery for your consideration (you can check out Part 1 here to see how I did). All of the six teams I touched on are still technically in the hunt, although DC United's chances would require some big wins, and every team in front of them to lose big. Toronto also has a chance if they win out with the same conditions being met, but since we're talking about maybe a 10th of 1% chance, I won't bore you with the details. Here's a breakdown of the 5 left standing.

4 (Tied). Sporting Kansas City (Home: COL, LAG) (Road: SJE)

If they hold serve they'll finish with: 54 points.

My best guess: 53 points (Odds to win: 49 to 1)

Kansas City, predictably, had some moments in September they'd like to have back- namely losses at Houston and at undermanned Orlando. They also dropped points at home to Seattle, but they did that with a rotated squad which allowed them a fresher squad for the US Open Cup in Philadelphia (which they won on penalties). They then flew all the way across country and beat Portland which is the only reason I'm writing about them here. They could actually still miss the playoffs (although that's doubtful).

What they need to do: Win out and get a lot of help. If Spork collect all 9 points available from the rest of the season, they'll have 57 for a season, which in all likelihood, won't be enough for top points. There are plenty of scenarios where 57 would be enough to be tied at the top of the heap, but that would still involve them making up some massive goal differential to win the 2nd tie breaker or at least tie and move on to a 3rd (or 4th- disciplinary points. who knew?).

4 (Tied). Vancouver Whitecaps - (Home: HOU) (Road:SJE, FCD*)

If they hold serve they'll finish with: 53 points.

My best guess: 53 points (Odds to win: 49 to 1)

I distinctly remember the angry mob trumpeting Vancouver and Sporting Kansas City's chances after FC Dallas lost at home to LA in August. Don't worry about it, I said, all the extra games they're playing that month and in September will catch up to them. Since I just dislocated my shoulder patting myself on the back, I have to admit that I didn't see Vancouver only managing 3 points from 3 home dates in September. Pair that with the home draw last night against Dallas, and the Whitecaps have gone from Shield co-favorites a month ago to barely having a chance to speak of.

What they need to do: Win out and get a lot of help. Also, they'll have to do something that they've never managed since joining MLS in 2011- win a game in Texas. Vancouver has never won a game in Texas. No wins againgst Houston. No wins against FC Dallas. Honestly, I should probably have them lower than Sporting Kansas City. They can still catch the current leader with a win and a draw though, so there's a chance. Honestly though, even with 2 wins, they're probably not going to make it.

3. LA Galaxy - (Home:  POR) (Road: SKC)

If they hold serve they'll finish with: 54 points.

My best guess: 55 points (Odds to win: 16 to 1)

At the beginning of September, LA looked like a strong candidate to win the shield with a combination of good form and a star-studded roster that was impossible to ignore. Then Montreal managed a scoreless draw in LA. Then RSL thumped them in Sandy. Then late in the match in Seattle over the weekend, Chad Barrett all but buried their chances with a late goal that cost them 2 vital points. Despite that and the loss of Giovanni Dos Santos for the next 3 weeks, they look well on their way to a top 2 seed (and a bye).

What they need to do: Win out and get some help. If FC Dallas wins 2 out of their last 3, they'd lose the 1st tiebreaker to FC Dallas. If NY wins any of their remaining games, they'd lose out on the 1st tiebreaker to them as well. It isn't impossible, and it's more likely than Vancouver or Sporting Kansas City, but if someone offers you even money on it, you have my permission to take their money.

2. FC Dallas - (Home: VAN, SJE) (Road: RSL)

If they hold serve they'll finish with: 57 points.

My best guess: 57 points (Odds to win: 2 to 1)

Speaking of teams done in by a late chance, FC Dallas would be very close to coin flips odds if Blas doesn't miss by inches. Tough angle to be certain, but it was still the kind of chance you'd hope your veteran striker buries. A win would have been fair, but at least they managed to get a point against a strong team on the road. Dallas will get their first double game MLS week of the season next week, and without Fabian Castillo for the first game (and Kellyn Acosta for however long it takes him to get right), it's going to be a real tall order.

What they need to do: Dallas is the only team in shouting distance that doesn't need everything to fall their way. If they win at home, and lose away, they'll need the team ahead of them not to win another game this year. If said team wins one, they'll need to get at least a point in Sandy or to rack up some serious blowouts against Vancouver and San Jose. Any of these outcomes are possible. Likely? Well probably not, but at least the next 3 weeks will be fun for a fan base who saw management jack up ticket prices and eliminate a quarter of the stadium.

Back in March, I'm proud to say that I predicted FC Dallas would win the Western Conference this year, but we would lose the Supporters' Shield to a team in the East because of the extra games they got against expansion teams. I did pick New England, but I did so not expecting Jermaine Jones to miss half the season with injuries and not anticipating the rise of...

1. New York Red Bulls - (Home: PHI ) (Road: TOR,CHI)

If they hold serve they'll finish with: 57 points.

My best guess: 58 points (Odds to win: 4 to 5)

Much like FC Dallas, New York has greatly enhanced their chances for the Supporters' Shield this last month. Similar to FC Dallas, it has been more about what the other contenders failed to do than what Red Bull did. Sure you could point to a big win on the road at Portland (although that looks less and less like a big deal these days), but that was followed by a humiliating defeat at the feet of Orlando at Red Bull Arena.

Red Bull picked up their 1st 2 wins of the season without Matt Miazga in large part due to this blunder by Steve Clark and this huge mental error by Ambroise Oyongo. Again, it's not so much a matter of New York playing well, although you can argue that their pressure played a part in forcing both of these errors. With a win against Philadelphia, only LA and Dallas can catch them. With a win and a draw, it'll be a 2 horse race with NY currently holding a marked advantage in both goal differential and goals scored. Had Dallas beaten New York in May, the race would be a coin flip.

What they need to do: In all likelihood, a win against Philly should do the trick. That said, it's entirely possible they could finish the season with 57 points after a loss on the road to Chicago with FC Dallas knowing that a 3-4 goal win would win them the Shield. Once again, hats off to the MLS schedule makers for not making everyone play at the same time. Would New York radically change their normal high-pressure tactics against Chicago with the knowledge that a draw would win them the Supporters' Shield? New York will also play two games next week, and you have to wonder if they'll raise the white flag in Toronto to have a rested troop ready for the home date with Philly (who only plays one game next week). Regardless, the next 2 weeks will be interesting around these parts as FC Dallas fights for a top seed in the Western Conference, and possibly, the Supporters' Shield.