Teams in MLS are frantically entering the homestretch of the 2022 season. There has been movement at the top of the standings in the eastern conference and in the Supporters’ Shield race. With eight match weeks left in the season, are we going to see more major shakeups or will teams find their form? The Philadelphia Union only has seven matches left to play, where will they land at the end of all of this?
Union five points clear in East; Six points away from rampant LAFC
The Philadelphia Union seems to be in the driver’s seat in the eastern conference with seven matches to play. They are five points ahead of Montreal, and six points ahead of NYCFC; both of those clubs do now have a game in hand on Philly, but the cushion is there for that not to matter all that much.
When it comes to Philly’s hopes to win a second-ever Supporters’ Shield, they have gained a bit of ground. Philly is six points behind LAFC, while Austin dropped the pace. The Union’s hopes to win this trophy lie in themselves keeping their form up in the final seven weeks, and LAFC dropping points. However, it’s still LAFC’s to lose at this point
Shake up in east’s top four in week 25
Looking closer at the top four in the east, we can see there has been a bit of a shake-up. Philly’s form sees them staying on top, but an NYCFC slump and a Montreal resurgence have them switching spots! Red Bulls are firmly planted in fourth, five points clear of a cluster of teams fighting for their playoff lives, that cluster involves the fifth place team to the 13th place team.
Philly was up and down last week; can they stay undefeated at home vs Colorado? That’ll be the hope. Colorado is 11th in the west this season, a shadow of the team they were last year. However, that doesn’t mean they’re any pushovers.
Montreal lit New England up 4-0, now they go to Chicago looking to do the same. Montreal should go into Chicago and dominate the game. The other teams around them have all beaten Chicago, and if this Montreal side wants to stay a top one they’ll have to do the same.
NYCFC lost a third straight game at Charlotte midweek last week; then got things right in Chicago, will this spark a resurgence for the blue side of New York? They’ll be hoping so as they go to fifth place Orlando to play on national TV on Sunday. a win there will rightly end their slump.
Red Bulls had a four-point week getting a win at Atlanta and a draw at home vs Cincinnati, can they keep the positive results going this weekend vs Miami? The red side of New York is trailing the pack, but is ahead of the cluster of nine teams fighting for three spots; one of them being a renewed Miami side.
LAFC holds a six-point lead on Shield
Looking at the race for the Supporters’ Shield, it’s becoming more and more like a two-team race. LAFC has one hand on the Shield, but Philly is hanging around. Austin fell off the pace this past weekend, and Montreal surpassed NYCFC for fourth place in the Shield standings.
LAFC had a shocking week; beating DC by only one goal, winning 1-0, and falling to San Jose 2-1. Is this the start of an LAFC slip-up in the race for the supporters’ shield? Their schedule has some tough games remaining, but the team constructed is deep and uber talented. They’re on pace to break the points record set by New England last season (73 points) but a slip-up at all would leave the door open for Philly.
Philly fell at Dallas in a hot midweek match but followed it up with a 6-0 route of DC. Now focus shifts to getting another three points at home to keep the pressure on LAFC. All Philadelphia can do is play the game in front of them. They have a hold on the east; should they continue to pile up wins, and LAFC slip, they’ll be in a position to not only win the east but possibly hoist the Shield on decision day.
Austin lost for the first time in August this past weekend in Minnesota. This week is pivotal as they host LAFC on Friday night; can the Verde and Black get back on track and land another blow to LAFC’s Shield hopes? This is the marquee matchup of the weekend as the top two teams in the west duke it out in Austin. This one will likely be a high-octane, high-scoring affair. Tune into it on ESPN at 8 pm ET for this one!
MONTREAL HAS OVERTAKEN NYCFC! Unbeaten in their last seven matches, Montreal has one more point than slumping NYCFC. New York City losing three straight opened them up to falling out of the Shield race at least for now. While it’s unlikely that Montreal or NYCFC will get on a big enough roll to challenge Austin, Philly, or LAFC for the shield, both of these teams look poised to be good-to-great playoff teams.
Seven matches to go for Union
The Union is in the home stretch and takes on a struggling Colorado side this weekend. If Philly comes out and plays their game in front of a packed Subaru Park, there’s no reason why they won’t come out on top of this one.
With only six matches after this weekend’s game, Philly could make a run to stay top of the east and push for the top of the league. Only two of those six are against current playoff teams (Red Bull, Orlando) the rest are against teams currently 10th, 11th, and 13th in the east (Charlotte, Toronto, Atlanta x 2). This Union team could be on the verge of regular season greatness unparalleled by any season before.
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Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire