Handicapping the Supporters’ Shield Race

Handicapping the Supporters’ Shield Race

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On July 26, 2012
  • 2012 MLS Season, 2012 Supporters Shield, Features

San Jose has the inside track to the Supporters’ Shield. (US Presswire)

With the MLS All Star game last night I felt like the league is well past the halfway point to be able to begin doing a broader look at the league’s Supporters’ Shield race. I hope to do more installments of this race as we go along here.

The quick run of it, there are about six-to-eight clubs still in solid contention of the Shield. But even that can be broken down further into smaller groups. Four teams at the top of the overall league table are in better standing at the moment than the other six.

So I’ll break it down by the clubs I see having the best chances here.

San Jose Earthquakes (43 points – 12 games left – 7h/5a)

Naturally the leaders in the clubhouse are going to be the leaders here on this list. At 43 points, the Quakes have more home games than away games – in fact they have a better ratio of home to away than anyone else at the moment. Given their form and quality they’ve had this season, this side is clearly the favorites to not just win the Western Conference (two clubs below them have additional games on their schedule in the CCL) but they stand a great chance at winning the Shield.

New York Red Bulls (38 points – 13 games left – 7h/6a)

The Red Bulls are second on the list simply due to their home form and the amount of home games left on the schedule. Going unbeaten at home so far has really done well and now that they’ve added Tim Cahill, their offense should continue to get better. It all comes down to that defense, if they can hold and continue to improve as well, this group has a very good shot to make things interesting.

Real Salt Lake (39 points – 12 games left – 5h/7a + 4 CCL)

RSL comes in next for a couple reasons. Yes they do have an extra set of games (starting next week) and fewer home games than anyone on this list, but they are a team that deals with adversity better than most. At the moment they’re only four points behind and should San Jose stumble at some point this August and September, RSL could be just the club to sneak on up the standings. Health and fitness will be key.

Sporting Kansas City (37 points – 13 games left – 7h/6a)

The one worry I have for Sporting KC is why they haven’t addressed their offensive concerns this summer. Teams have seemed to figure out this bunch offensively and really this group hasn’t found that form that lead them out of the gate to a 7-0-0 record. The amount of home games helps in their favor but getting that offense up to the level that their defense is playing is an absolute must.

Vancouver Whitecaps (34 points – 12 games left – 6h/6a)

The Whitecaps are an interesting bunch at the moment. It all comes down to getting their road form up. They have a shot only if they can begin winning a bunch of the “6-pointers” that are a head, starting tomorrow in Salt Lake. I think they’re on the outside looking in on the four clubs above them (so far the others below here as well).

Houston Dynamo (34 points – 13 games left – 7h/6a + 4 CCL)

The home form (unbeaten so far at BBVA Compass Stadium) has this on the list. With seven home games remaining they’ll need every single one of those points to have a shot at reaching the likes of NY and SJ in the standings. Those four CCL group stage games worry me a good bit though about their chances. This club has some depth but not nearly enough to handle both sets of games.

D.C. United (33 points – 14 games left – 7h/7a)

United would have been higher on this list a few weeks ago but recent form has knocked them down a good bit. Still the extra games in hand have to come in play at some point here for Ben Olsen’s club. I think they still need to address some defensive concerns in order to get back up the standings. Plus their road form has to improve as well.