The Philadelphia Union is in a run of form that is truly historic. With five matches to play, Philly has made themselves the clear MLS Cup favorite in the east. They are also now an actual contender for the 2022 Supporters’ Shield!
Union tied for Shield lead with LAFC; far ahead of the rest of the east
The 2022 season will be anything but a quiet finish for the teams fighting for the top spots in the east, and for the top spot in all of MLS! Philadelphia has shown that they are one of the top two teams in MLS, and they could soon push to be the top team in dramatic fashion.
Philly’s lead in the east is a towering eight points above second-place Montreal. Their recent blowout streak, coupled with LAFC’s three-game losing skid sees the two tied on points with 57. In these final few weeks will we witness Philly’s second-ever Supporters’ Shield win that gives them home-field advantage for all of the playoffs?
Union and Red Bulls win; Montreal and NYCFC lose
The top teams of the east are showing more and more who they are heading into the final month of the regular season. There’s a clear front runner in the top tier, a second place challenger, and teams in third and fourth fighting to keep in the top four. The teams in first and third won midweek; the teams in second and fourth did not.
Philly is looking more and more like the clear-cut favorite in the east. Their form over the last month is legendary, and they clinched a playoff game with five matches to go. This team is an arm and a leg above the rest in the east, and the sky is truly the limit for them. If they can keep their consistent play going, it wouldn’t be surprising for this team to win a double!
Montreal failed to make an impact at home against the Red Bulls. It might have just been an off night for the Canadian side in their loss to a Red Bull side pushing up the table, but it’ll be one they’ll need to forget and fast. Montreal goes to hated rivals Toronto FC tomorrow night. They’ll need to get three points to stay anywhere close to Philly in the east; a win might even end their TFC’s hopes for the playoffs in the process!
Red Bulls is making a case to be a dark horse in the east. The red side of New York has a clear style of play that can wear teams down. Their press is relentless, and it gives the formula for a strong playoff side. The only problem for New York is that there is never a plan B; if the press doesn’t work, they’re just about beaten. While their form is trending up, they might have to find different ways to win in big games. If they can do so tonight against Philly, they might just find their blueprint to a playoff run.
NYCFC is in a free fall down the standings. It is truly remarkable what losing a great coach and a star striker has done for the blue side of New York. NYCFC has lost five of their last six and is playing themselves out of contention for the top of the east. Now, they’re just three points above fifth place. Keeping fourth will be huge as they will be able to play a home match in the first round. They’ll hope to keep that pace in their match tomorrow night at New England.
The east is very becoming very straightforward at the top four, not so much in the Supporters Shield race!
Philadelphia was the only Shield contender to win midweek
The race for the Supporters’ Shield is getting tighter and tighter. There are three serious contenders and three other teams pushing them. While this is really a three-team race, it’s important to see the other three to give context on just how good the top three sides are.
LAFC dropped their third straight game on a hot and humid night in Houston. A team that was lauded as one that could potentially break the points record brought in star players in the summer window, and their integration has led to the current slip-up for LAFC. Steve Cherundolo has his work cut out for him as he tried to find the right combination of his team that was on record pace, and the new stars the team has bought. We’ll see if they can right the ship tomorrow night at home vs Real Salt Lake.
Philly keeps getting dominant wins, the 4-1 victory over Atlanta is their third blowout in a row! Now they are tied on points with LAFC for the Shield, and unlike LA, this team knows who they are. Elite goalkeeping, a strong defensive side, a relentless midfield, and an attack that is scoring boatloads of goals are what this team is made of. Their remainder of the season is favorable, with the hardest test being tonight at third-place Red Bulls. Does the team’s form and momentum enough to not only win the east but the Supporters’ Shield as well?
Austin lost at home to a hungry Portland side. The Verde and Black had an uncharacteristic game at home where they were outplayed by a team who wanted the points more. Austin came off the back of an emotional blowout of LAFC and put a stinker up against Portland, but there’s no time to sulk if they want to get back in the race for the Shield. Austin goes to another team hungry for points in Nashville tonight; will they get back to winning ways, or will they play themselves out of Shield contention?
Montreal, Red Bull, and NYCFC are all still alive in the Shield race, but that could change after this coming weekend. The teams chasing the top three are all from the east and will have to hope for a Philly slowdown. If Montreal, Red Bull, and NYCFC don’t win and Philly does, it will all but seal their fate for both the Supporters’ Shield and their place in the eastern conference.
There are only five match weeks left in 2022, what should we expect from this weekend?
Only five weeks left in the 2022 MLS season!
The matches are more important and points are more crucial; That’s what happens late on in seasons, and it’s definitely true of this 2022 season. Here’s a look at the big matches going on this Labor Day weekend.
- Red Bull vs Philly | Saturday, 7 pm ET
- Nashville vs Austin | Saturday, 8:30 pm ET
- Toronto vs Montreal | Sunday, 7:30 pm ET
- New England vs NYCFC | Sunday, 8 pm ET
- LAFC vs Salt Lake | Sunday, 10:30 pm ET
Will LAFC get back to their winning ways, or will they fall off and allow Philly to move ahead of them? Can Austin keep the pressure on both Philly and LAFC? Will Red Bull, Montreal, and NYCFC show up in big matches that could decide their final standing? Don’t miss all the action this weekend to find out!
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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire