It all comes down to this. Tomorrow morning, at 11:30 AM, the Seattle Sounders and the LA Galaxy duke it out for the best regular season record and the trophy that goes with it — that gleaming Supporters’ Shield.
Tuning in? Here’s a primer.
What’s at stake?
Seattle and LA are dead even in terms of points — they’re each at 61 – but Seattle has the upper hand in total wins, which is the stat that MLS uses as a tie breaker. That means for the Galaxy to win the Supporters’ Shield, nothing but a win will do. Seattle can win it by just tying.
But that’s not all. Regular season record is also what determines where the MLS Cup Final is hosted. If the Galaxy manage to make it through the playoffs, all the way to the final, they’ll want to be the team with the better record.
There’s no chance of a Seattle – LA final, because they’re in the same conference. But there is a possibility, and a very real one, that DC United could be the Eastern Conference team to go all the way.
I don’t want to jinx anything, but an MLS Cup Final featuring the LA Galaxy and DC United is a real possibility. And right now, the Galaxy have the better record — meaning the final would be held in LA.
But each team has a game this weekend. And if DC wins theirs, and the Galaxy lose to Seattle, DC would be tied with the Galaxy in terms of points but have the edge in total wins.
This is a lot of “ifs,” but:
If LA lose tomorrow, and DC win, and both teams make it to the MLS Cup Final, DC would host. Goodbye, home field advantage.
(As an aside: a DC – LA Cup Final would be crazy cool, because both teams have four MLS Cup wins in their history. And four Cups is the most in the league — so they’d be duking it out for the big number five.)
What’s going for us?
Here’s the best I can muster: in July, the Galaxy pummeled Seattle 3-nil in their own city.
Of course July was ages ago, and the Galaxy didn’t do any pummeling last Sunday — when they tied Seattle, 2–2.
What’s going against us?
If the only advantage the Sounders had was playing at home, in a nearly sold out Century Link Field, I’d be tempted to say that’s enough for them to get the job done.
But that’s not the only advantage. Last Sunday, Omar Gonzalez was shown a red card for a questionable tackle. He’ll have to miss this game as a result, and so LA is out one formidable defender.
This is a tough game to call.
We’re talking about the two best teams in the league, two teams that went hard for 90 minutes less than a week ago and came up with nothing more than a tie.
Playing in Seattle, without one of their key defenders, it’s hard to see how the Galaxy pull off this one. But Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan were MIA last Sunday — if those two can rise to the occasion, LA just might eke out a win.