The race for the 2022 Supporters’ Shield is heating up; Can Union make a push?

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Most MLS teams have played 20 matches in the 2022 season. With just about the final third of the season to go, there is a four-team race heating up for the most difficult trophy to win. LAFC, Austin FC, NYCFC, and the Philadelphia Union are all within four points of each other; the race for the Supporters’ Shield is on!

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych

LAFC, Austin, NYCFC, & Union are fighting for Supporters’ Shield

The top two teams in the east and the west are ready to make a run for the 2022 Supporters’ Shield! All four teams are averaging above 1.85 points per game in through 20/21 games this season. The group has either 13 or 14 games left to play; Austin and Philly have 13, while NYCFC and LAFC have a game in hand, still needing to play 14 matches.

Standings & Remaining Games to be Played
LAFC – 42 points – 14 matches to play (game in hand to be played September 18)
Austin – 41 points – 13 matches to play
Union – 39 points – 13 matches to play
NYCFC – 38 points – 14 matches to play ( game in hand to be played September 7)

The 2022 season is nearing the end of the dog days of summer, and will soon enter the final stretch! Let’s take a look at the four teams, how they got to where they are, and their remaining schedules. Who will make a 2022 Supporters’ Shield push?

LAFC are the runaway favorites

The newest team in Los Angeles has been the best team in MLS for the majority of the 2022 season. Their 14 wins, three losses, and four ties are good enough to put them on 42 points from 20 games played; that’s a 2.1 points per game yield! They’ve taken a page from their counterparts LA Galaxy, signing big-name DP Giorgio Chiellini and Gareth Bale to boost their squad this summer. Can the runaway favorites stay on top through their final 14 matches?

LAFC’s Remaining Schedule
@ Kansas City – Saturday, July 23 – 8:30 pm ET
vs Seattle – Friday, July 29 – 11:00 pm ET
@ Salt Lake – Saturday, August 6 – 10:00 pm ET
vs Charlotte – Saturday, August 13 – 10:30 pm ET
vs DC – Tuesday, August 16 – 10:30 pm ET
@ San Jose – Friday, August 20 – 10:00 pm ET
@ Austin – Friday, August 26 – 8:00 pm ET
@ Houston – Wednesday, August 31 – 8:30 pm ET
vs Salt Lake – Sunday, September 4 – 10:30 pm ET
@ Dallas – Saturday, September 10 – 8:30 pm ET
@ Minnesota – Tuesday, September 13 – 8:00 pm ET
vs Houston – Sunday, September 18 – 10:30 pm ET
@ Portland – Sunday, October 2 – 3:00 pm ET
vs Nashville – Sunday, October 9 – 5:00 pm ET

LAFC does have a game in hand on Austin and Philly. They will also be a game up on NYCFC for one week in september, but will that be enough to keep them at the Top?

Nine of LAFC’s final 14 games are against the bottom half teams in MLS. This really could be LA’s trophy to lose at this point. However, this is MLS and you never know what to expect week in and week out!

Austin is the surprise in the group

Austin FC is the most-improved team in 2022. They went from having 31 points from 34 games last year to having 41 in only 13 matches this season! They have scored the most goals in MLS with 42 and are averaging 2.0 goals per match, and 1.1 goals conceded per match. Their leader Sebastian Driussi is an MVP candidate with 11 goals, two off the golden boot, and six assists this season. Can the surprise of the season keep up their stellar form and win their first trophy ever in the 2022 Supporters’ Shield?

Austin’s Remaining Schedule
vs NY Red Bulls – Sunday, July 24 – 8:00 pm ET
@ Kansas City – Saturday, July 30 – 8:30 pm ET
vs San Jose – Saturday, August 6 – 9:00 pm ET
vs Kansas City – Saturday, August 13 – 9:00 pm ET
@ Minnesota – Saturday, August 20 – 8:00 pm ET
vs LAFC – Friday, August 26 – 8:00 pm ET
vs Portland – Wednesday, August 31 – 9:00 pm ET
@ Nashville – Saturday, September 3 – 8:30 pm ET
@ Seattle – Saturday, September 10 – 8:00 pm ET
vs Salt Lake – Wednesday, September 14 – 4:00 pm ET
vs Nashville – Saturday, September 17 – 9:00 pm ET
@ Vancouver – Saturday, October 1 – 10:00 pm ET
vs Colorado – Sunday, October 9 – 5:00 pm ET

Austin only has 13 matches left this season. This team has seven games against the top 10 teams in MLS left in 2022. The one that should be in bold, highlighted, and circled on their schedule is a home game vs LAFC on Friday, August 26.

Could that match be the one that determines who wins the 2022 Supporters’ Shield?

NYCFC has a major advantage

NYCFC is fourth right now in the race for the 2022 Supporters’ Shield but they have a major advantage still. The blue side of New York has a game in hand in the schedule that won’t be played until the fifth-to-last matchday of the season. NYCFC did just lose their coach last month, and golden boot leader, Taty Castellanos, but they are still a very organized team that can punish their opponents with their possessive style of play.

NYCFC’s Remaining Schedule
vs Miami – Saturday, July 23 – 7:00 pm ET
@ Montreal – Saturday, July 30 – 7:30 pm ET
@ Columbus – Saturday, August 6 – 7:30 pm ET
@ Miami – Saturday, August 13 – 8:00 pm ET
vs Charlotte – Wednesday, August 17 – 8:00 pm ET
@ Chicago – Sunday, August 21 – 6:00 pm ET
@ Orlando – Sunday, August 28 – 7:30 pm ET
vs DC – Wednesday, August 31 – 8:00 pm ET
@ New England – Sunday, September 4 – 8:00 pm ET
vs Cincinnati – Wednesday, September 7 – 8:00 pm ET
@ Charlotte – Saturday, September 10 – 1:00 pm ET
vs NY Red Bulls – Saturday, September 17 – 1:00 pm ET
vs Orlando – Sunday, October 2 – 1:00 pm ET
@ Atlanta – Sunday, October 9 – 4:00 pm ET

NYCFC could push past LAFC and become the favorites to win the 2022 Supporters’ Shield race with their late game in hand. They do match LAFC and Austin by scoring 2.0 goals per match, but will they be able to keep it up without Taty?

Heber and Magno are above-average replacements, and City Football Group could buy another high-volume striker this summer. If they do any of these things NYCFC could just win the Supporters’ Shield.

Can Union make a push to beat out the rest?

The Philadelphia Union are doing it their way but has proved that they are looking for Moneyball ways to get a high-volume attack. They got Julián Carranza (7 goals, 3 assists) from Miami for just $500,000, brought in the top scorer in the Danish league (Mikael Uhre, 6 goals, 1 assist) and have Hungarian number 10, Daniel Gazdag (9 goals, 3 assists) clicking on all cylinders in year two. Add to that homegrown’s making a difference from the start or off the bench, and not to mention the best defense in the league and this team could just do something not many thought they would do in 2022.

Union’s Remaining Schedule
@ Orlando – Saturday, July 23 – 7:30 pm ET
vs Houston – Saturday, July 30 – 7:30 pm ET
@ Cincinnati – Saturday, August 6 – 7:30 pm ET
vs Chicago – Saturday, August 13 – 7:30 pm ET
@ Dallas – Wednesday, August 17 – 9:00 pm ET
@ DC – Saturday, August 20 – 7:30 pm ET
vs Colorado – Saturday, August 27 – 7:30 pm ET
vs Atlanta – Wednesday, August 31 – 7:00 pm ET
@ NY Red Bulls – Saturday, September 3 – 7:00 pm ET
vs Orlando – Saturday, September 10 – 7:30 pm ET
@ Atlanta – Saturday, September 17 – 3:30 pm ET
@ Charlotte – Saturday, October 1 – 7:00 pm ET
vs Toronto – Sunday, October 9 – 4:00 ET

The Union was a favorite in the preseason to make the playoffs and make a run to their first-ever MLS Cup, but not many thought they’d be in striking distance of the Supporter’s Shield heading toward the home stretch. So how Could Philly get this trophy en route to a playoff run as well? The answer lies in their stout defense and getting a budding attack to bloom.

Philadelphia is allowing 0.7 goals conceded per match in 2022. This is the best in MLS, and there are no signs of them collapsing from the back the rest of the way. Philly’s attack is flourishing with the Carranza-Uhre-Gazdag front three. Getting some production from midfielders like the ageless captain Ale Bedoya and homegrowns Jack McGlynn, Quinn Sullivan, and Paxten Aaronson, and this team might just have the firepower to rise above the rest.

Who’ll take home the Silverware?

For Philly, only time will tell if the guys they have will be enough. They are likely not going to bring in any other players, so they’ll need to have these guys have their best season’s ever to get the job done.

NYCFC will need to overcome the loss of their golden boy, and manager to take advantage of their game in hand to get this trophy.

Austin will need to continue to score in bunches and get better on their defensive side to push ahead.

LAFC really just need to stay on the course they’re currently on to win the Supporters’ Shield in 2022.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on this race over the last three months of the season to see how things play out. No matter what happens it will be a fun race with these four teams, and who knows maybe a shocking fifth team will enter the mix as well. After all, this is MLS!

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych