There have been 24 weeks played in MLS this season! With just 10 games to go the Philadelphia Union is in a position to win the eastern conference and is still in the running for the Supporters’ Shield. With just 9 weeks left of the 2022 MLS season, we’ll give update articles the day before matches on the Union’s standing for the recess in the east and the Supporters Shield.
Union stays first in east; failing behind in Shield race
Week 24 was a bit of a tough one for Philadelphia. They played a rough match at FC Cincinnati where everyone had an off night. Cincy scored three goals in 21 minutes in the second half to down Philly 3-1. While they fell, no one else in the top four of the east won a game. NYCFC lost, and Montreal and Red Bulls drew in week 24. Union holds first place for now.
When it comes to the Supporters Shield race, the Union fell further behind the pace being set by LAFC. With Philly’s loss, and another LAFC win, Los Angeles now has a six-point gap over the Union. Austin FC and NYCFC are also still alive in the race too; Austin drew in week 24 and sits six points off, while NYCFC’s loss puts them nine points behind the pace.
Let’s look at each of the teams vying for these top spots and when/who they’ll face in week 25.
The top four of the east get no wins in week 24
The east was looking like just a two-team race between Philly and NYCFC, and then both of those teams lost in week 24. This opened the door for Montreal (40 points) and Red Bulls (37 points) to get back into contention. Will there be more of a shake-up in week 25, or will the teams at the top get back to their flying form?
Philly takes on Chicago at home on Saturday at 7:30 pm ET. Philly is still the top team in the east, while Chicago is hanging on to the seventh seed right above the red line. Chicago beat Philly at Solider Field earlier this season, can they get a second win against the top team in the east?
NYCFC is down in Miami this Saturday; kickoff is at 8 pm ET. NYCFC lost their first game since the end of June last week at Columbus. They have lost their championship-winning coach and talisman this season, could it ruin a run for the top of the east and for the Supporters’ Shield?
Montreal heads to Houston on Saturday for a 9 pm ET kickoff. This has been a good team in 2022, but has failed to make enough of an impact to get to the next level to push to the top of the east. Can they do this with 10 matches left and shock all of MLS?
Red Bulls play at home against Orlando on Saturday at 6 pm ET. The red side of New York struggled last month going 2-2-2. That’s a lot of dropped points that they can’t afford to have with only 10 games left to play. They look to get better results starting this week with possible Open Cup revenge against Orlando.
LAFC could be running away with the Shield
The Shield race took a huge hit in week 24. Frontrunners LAFC are the only team that won, Austin drew against a weakened San Jose team, and the two teams in the east (Philly and NYCFC) lost. Is this really LAFC’s Shield to lose at this point with a six-point cushion on the teams tied for second?
LAFC takes on newcomers Charlotte on Saturday at 10:30 pm ET. Los Angeles has won eight of their last 10 matches, stretching back to the end of May. Their domination has been equaled by their acquisitions getting big-name players, and new DPs. With 9 weeks to go, it’s theirs to lose.
Austin takes on Kansas City on Saturday at 9 pm ET. The Verde and Black leapfrogged Philly this week in the Supporters’ Shield standings due to having one more win. Austin has won five of their last eight and is looking to get another this week against a western conference bottom dweller.
We already know Philly will take on Chicago this weekend. The key to this match will be if the Union will be able to stop Chicago’s playmakers Mueller and Shaqiri. If they can they should be able to get back to winning ways to push back up the Supporters’ Shield standings and keep the pressure on LAFC.
NYCFC is in hot Miami this weekend. They have struggled to really find themselves since their change of coach midseason, but their skill is still evident. Heber replacing Taty at center-forward is about as good as you can get as both are known commodities in MLS. Can NYC move up the standings for both the east and the Shield?
10 matches left for Philly to push
The Union and those they are competing with for supremacy all play this Saturday night. It will be a night full of scoreboard watching for Union fans. Honestly, who would want it any other way? This team is going to be competitive in its final 10 games; they’re the front runners in the east, and can still challenge for the Supporters’ Shield.
While it may be improbable at this point for Philly to win both the east and Supporters’ Shield, the team is still going to try to win both. In order to do this, the team will need to show more of the tactical flexibility that they showed in the month of July. With just 10 matches left, Jim Curtin and his team are in a position to do the unthinkable. It will just come down to execution and appropriate tactics to suit each game.
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Mandatory Credit: Diego Diaz/Icon Sportswire