Despite only three of the Top 10 MLS teams being in action this week, everyone is gearing up for the final stretch of games. With Toronto waiting for the pack to stumble one last time to clinch the Shield, and NYCFC waiting for Toronto to stumble so they can seize the Shield away, things are heating up.
1. Toronto FC (Eastern Conference)
Record: 16-8-3 (56 points)
Form: WDWWWW (Last six games)
Having not played a game this week, Toronto will be rearing to go for their game against The Earthquakes on Saturday. With only seven games left in the season, and a relatively light schedule ahead, the Supporters’ Shield is Toronto’s to lose.
2. New York City FC (Eastern Conference)
Record: 15-5-7 (50 points)
With a close win over a defensively solid SKC, NYCFC bring themselves within six points of league-leaders Toronto. If NYCFC can continue winning, then it is conceivable that they are the only real team able to steal the Shield away from a convincing Toronto team.
3. Chicago Fire (Eastern Conference)
Record: 13-5-9 (44 points)
The Fire earned an all-important win against the Impact to end a dreadful streak of four losses in a row. This should prove a useful boost to moral and allow a surge of good form against an upcoming schedule that has a mix of upper, middle, and lower-table teams that should all prove to be good games. The Fire will need as many wins as possible to stay above the middle-pack of the Eastern Conference.
4. Columbus Crew SC (Eastern Conference)
Record: 13-3-12 (42 points)
With no action for the Crew this week, they’ll be looking forward to their game against SKC on Sunday. Only having six games left this season, winning the Shield is all but mathematically impossible, and a good seed in the playoffs is what Crew are playing for now. If they can maintain their good form then this shouldn’t prove too difficult of a task.
5. Seattle Sounders FC (Western Conference)
Record: 11-9-7 (42 points)
The Sounders didn’t have a game this week, but they will play the Galaxy on Sunday. This will be a tough game, with the result being a must win for both teams. After that, The Sounders can look forward to a schedule filled with matches against teams in the bottom half of the MLS, though that is by no means a guarantee of easy wins. With most teams now fighting tooth and nail to cement their place in the playoffs, this might be the toughest part of the Sounder’s schedule.
6. Portland Timbers (Western Conference)
Record: 11-8-9 (41 points)
With no action for the Timbers this week, and a trip away to NYCFC on Saturday, the Timbers have a tough schedule ahead. Add a collection of games against fellow Western Conference rivals, and the Timbers will need a good result in most of the remaining seven games to cement a good seed in the playoffs.
7. Sporting Kansas City (Western Conference)
Record: 10-10-6 (40 points)
Falling to a late defeat by NYCFC, SKC will need to rebound, and with a game in hand on most of the league, the stage is set for a resurgence. They will play their next two games against Eastern Conference opponents, but their final six games will be against their rivals in the Western conference. It is still possible for SKC to lose their hold on the Conference title, so they will need to put their best foot forward to clinch it.
8. New York Red Bulls (Eastern Conference)
Record: 12-4-10 (40 points)
After failing to maintain two separate leads against Dallas, the Red Bulls had to accept a single point from an encounter that, in their minds, they should have won. They have a difficult, busy schedule ahead with a US Open Cup final shoehorned in with the extra game they must play. They will need to find the results where they can as it is still conceivable for them to fall out of the playoff picture.
9. Vancouver Whitecaps (Western Conference)
Record: 11-5-9 (38 points)
The Whitecap’s received a break this week, but must look to get a win against Real Salt Lake on Saturday, otherwise they might find themselves uncomfortably close to not qualifying for the playoffs. While their remaining schedule isn’t too difficult, their two games in hand means they will have to play that many more than their opposition, meaning that fatigue will play a real factor in whether they can maintain good form.
10. Houston Dynamo (Western Conference)
Record: 10-8-8 (38 points)
The Dynamo are in the same boat as the Whitecaps, having not played in a game since the 23rd of August. They will face off against the Rapids on Saturday, and must win to try to kick off a run of good form. With a game in hand, they will find themselves playing more games than their opposition, and must do their best to battle both the opposition and fatigue.