The Philadelphia Union didn’t play on Tuesday night, but their fate in the Supporters’ Shield race shifted. LAFC drew on the road to Minnesota United. The draw was their game in hand over Philly; now both the Union and LAFC have three matches remaining in their 2022 seasons. The table doesn’t lie, and now Philly controls their own destiny.
Union controls their own destiny with three matches to play
Philadelphia is sitting atop of MLS on 63 points; LAFC is behind with 61 points. The margins for who will win the Supporters’ Shield are razor thin, but now there is a clear path as both teams have played the same amount of games. At 31 matches played, Philly has more points, but LAFC holds the first MLS tie-breaker of having more wins on the season (19, compared to Philadelphia’s 18). Should Los Angeles and Philadelphia both win their remaining three matches, Philly will be lifting the Shield thanks to being two points ahead.
Now that the paradigm has shifted to favor Philly, and that both teams are now on a level playing field, taking a deeper look at the remaining matches becomes crucial.
Remaining Schedules for Union and LAFC
Philly has been on a run to the top of MLS since the beginning of July. They have broken major records in that time and are showing their club ethos is all about the team, not about individuals. In July, LAFC was thought to be runaway favorites to sit atop MLS. They were far and away the best team and brought in star summer signings to help keep things that way. As it turns out that might have undone LAFC’s Shield hopes.
Integrating a player like Gareth Bale into their already flying attack caused a bit of a disruption, and is one of the main reasons LAFC has dropped form in the last month. Over the last six matches, LAFC has lost four, won once, and drawn once. As they head into a crucial home stretch the games don’t get any easier for them.
|@ Atlanta (10th place in the east) |
Saturday, Sept. 17 | 3:30 pm ET
|vs Houston (13th place in the west) |
Sunday, Sept. 18 | 10:30 pm ET
|@ Charlotte (11th place in the east) |
Saturday, Oct. 1 | 5:30 pm ET
|@ Portland (6th place in the west) |
Sunday, Oct. 2 | 3:00 pm ET
|vs Toronto (13th place in the east) |
Sunday, Oct. 9 | 2:30 pm ET
|vs Nashville (4th place in the west) |
Sunday, Oct. 9 | 5:00 pm ET
Looking at the remaining games for both LAFC and Philly, it is clear that Philly is in the driver’s seat. They play teams at the bottom of the eastern conference to end their season. While they may be on the road for two of those matches, this team has shown they can take care of business against opponents on the road, especially now that they know that a win strengthens their chances of lifting a trophy.
LAFC has to take on a struggling, yet hungry, Houston side that beat them just a few weeks ago, and two teams in the midst of a race for a home playoff game in the west. Los Angeles does have two of their final three matches at home, and chances are they could win all three, but they would also have to now hope that Philly coughs up some points, which is something that has been a rarity all of 2022.
Win out and hoist the Shield!
All the Union has to do is win the games in front of them to lift what is considered to be the hardest trophy to win in MLS. Philly has lifted the Supporters’ Shield before, but that was in a Covid-shortened season. Now, the team is in the driver’s seat to win the Shield in a full 34-match season.
Could we see Philly hoist the Shield in Subaru Park on Decision Day (Oct. 9th)? That’s looking more and more probable. The final gameday itself could be a huge party for the Union should they win at Atlanta and Charlotte, and LAFC draws/lose to Houston and Portland.
If Philly takes the next six points, and LAFC fail to win in that time, then the Union will have won the Supporters Shield with one week to spare making their final home match of the regular season a party for themselves and the fans! Let’s see how this all plays out with just four weeks left in the 2022 MLS regular season!
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Mandatory Credit: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire