Ah, fall in Philadelphia. What a wonderful time of the sports year. The Eagles have started off their 2022-23 campaign as hot as any team in the NFL not named the Buffalo Bills. The Phillies, despite an awful stretch of games lately, are still in position to make the playoffs for the first time in a decade plus. The Sixers are poised to compete to win the Eastern Conference once again. The Flyers are getting forced by the universe to tank for top draft prospect Connor Bedard. There are a lot of fun, interesting storylines to discuss around Philadelphia sports, and because of that, it’s very possible that the best team in this city may be off your radar right now. The Philadelphia Union, though, are in an absolute dogfight for the Supporter’s Shield, and with 2 matches left before the playoffs, they’re looking to lock up that trophy for the 2nd time in 3 seasons.
The Supporter’s Shield, for the uninitiated, is awarded to the team in the MLS that records the most points in the regular season. Need a refresher on what our soccer club is doing? No worries, that’s why I’m writing this! I work in Philly sports, and I still was surprised when I checked in on the table (standings, in soccer speak) to see that the Union are tied for the MLS lead in points. Right now, they are firmly in the lead in the Eastern Conference, with 64 points earned. That’s 5 more than Montreal FC, who are in 2nd place in the East. The West, though, has a closer contender. LAFC also holds 64 points out in California, and with 2 games remaining for both them and Philly, it’ll be a fight to the end to see who wins the Shield. The remaining schedule does seem to favor the Union; their final 2 matches are against Charlotte and Toronto, the 10th and 13th place teams in the East standings respectively. Meanwhile, LAFC rounds out their regular season with Portland and Nashville, who hold the 5th and 4th positions out West. Advantage Philadelphia.
There is a bit of a tricky situation, though, that could stop the Union from taking home the Shield. With 2 games remaining for both sides, and the same number of points currently, it’s possible that the Union and LAFC end up with the same number of points when everything is all said and done. If that’s the case, the Supporter’s Shield would then go to a tie break, and that would be decided by the total number of wins. The Union have won 18 games so far, but LAFC have won 20. If the Union catch them in win total, they will have won the Shield anyway, so the tie breaker will certainly go the way of Los Angeles if it comes to that. The good news is that the Supporter’s Shield winner doesn’t win the MLS Cup nearly as often as you would think. It’s a great indication of regular season success, but Jim Curtin’s squad has higher aspirations than that. Either way, the Union are as good as any team in the MLS this season, and as good as any team in Philadelphia right now.