Real Salt Lake are third in the western standing with 49 points with five games remaining on their schedule; with a win this weekend, Salt Lake can clinch a playoff spot. They seem to have that third place spot locked in and it doesn’t seem that FC Dallas will over take the spot, given both the teams schedule down the stretch. Dallas face Seattle, a tough game for them, while they face the Galaxy two weeks later. Both games are at home, however, so there is a good chance to pick up some points.
Real Salt Lake, on the other hand, is in a prime position to steal the Supporter’s Shield from LA and Seattle; Salt Lake play Chivas USA twice in their final five games of the season. With all due respect to Chivas, those are easy six points for Salt Lake; that pushes Salt Lake to 55 points.
They first face the Vancouver Whitecaps on the road, but with Vancouver struggling to score goals, picking up points can prove unchallenging for Salt Lake.
Last year, they formed a decent rivalry with the Portland Timbers, but Salt Lake proved too much for the Timbers as Salt Lake eliminated them in the semifinals of the US Open Cup and in the conference finals of the MLS Cup playoffs. Moreover, Salt Lake beat the Timbers during the regular season and tied the other two games. This season, they beat the Timbers once and lost once, so the final game is crucial for both teams and will demonstrate which team wants it more.
The other team left is the San Jose Earthquakes and, let’s face it, their season is over, the Never Say Die – Goonie Magic left the team with Alan Gordon, and a team struggling to figure out their identity will show their incompetence against a strong Salt Lake team overloaded with attacking power.
Overall, Salt Lake can win their last five games, that’s 15 points, and shoots them up to 64 points total.
Now Seattle have two games to look forward to, the Chivas USA and Colorado Rapids matchups. Seattle can pick up six points right there to put them at 60 points. But with games against Dallas, Vancouver, and LA, picking up another five points can be difficult. Given their last performance against New York Red Bulls and seeing that this will be the third road game in a row, Seattle will desperately need to pick up points and bounce back from that lost against New York as to not lose pace for the Supporter’s Shield.
The game against Vancouver is a Cascadia rivalry match that will determine who will be hoisting the Cascadia Cup; but being a home game for the Sounders, Vancouver have to fight with everything they have for the playoffs, but also for Cascadia pride. That puts Seattle at 63 points – 64 points with a draw in Dallas.
The final two games is a Home-and-Away series with LA with the first leg on the road. Picking up points on the road in LA can be daunting, it is possible if LA is not at full squad strength.
Lastly, the LA Galaxy have a great chance for the Shield; they are at home the next two matches, hosting the New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC. New York and Toronto will come in fighting for points, as they need to secure their playoff spot and make a playoff push, respectively. However, being home games, LA can pick up four points, a draw with New York and a win against Toronto.
The Galaxy go on the road to Dallas where they can pick up another point before the Seattle series. LA can have a possible 59 points with the scenarios given; however, LA can easily pick up three straight wins for a total of 63 points.
With all games played, Salt Lake can be sitting at 64 points, while Seattle and LA will be around 63 or 64 points before the home-and-away series. Salt Lake can barely miss out on a chance for the Supporter’s Shield or barely win it because of the one or two mistakes both Seattle and LA made in the final five games. These last few games for these teams are imperative in determining the Supporter’s Shield winner.
Who should win the Shield – Salt Lake, Seattle, or LA? If Salt Lake wins, they would have won because of an easy schedule – they could, and should, accumulate points off three games that guarantee wins. Seattle also have three games that should be easy points, while the Galaxy have one game in Toronto. New York seems to be hitting their stride and Dallas, being a playoff team, need to give it their all to secure and hold on to that playoff spot while making a push for third place to avoid the playoff series. Which ever team wins the Supporter’s Shield, they fully deserve it and with the title of “true” champion.
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