- Has Toronto FC already secured the Supporters' Shield, as NYCFC manager Patrick Vieira suggests? The two clubs are front and center in this week's MLS Power Rankings.
If you bet on MLS, you’re probably broke. You also might be tempted to take out a loan and put some money down on Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders meeting again in early December. The MLS playoffs are random, unpredictable and cruel. But momentum matters, experience can make a difference and there certainly aren’t two teams at the moment who look more like championship contenders than last year’s finalists.
The chatter surrounding TFC has moved past the Supporters' Shield and into “best regular season of all time” territory (see below). Last year’s MLS Cup heartbreak could have led the Reds to devalue the regular season. But it’s had the opposite effect. They want to win everything. After last weekend’s 3-1 win at Chicago, which had been unbeaten at Toyota Park, TFC is four points ahead of New York City FC with nine games left (including three against Montreal).
"I think all the other teams are going to fight for the second spot and Toronto will win the league,” NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira told reporters. “I think you see it [in Chicago]. They are quite really strong and I don't think anybody will catch them."
Toronto captain Michael Bradley spelled out the Shield’s importance after beating Chicago.
"We wanted to send out a message across the league that said that the Supporters' Shield means a lot to us," Bradley added. "We are giving everything we have to win it and we are going to go for it every time we step on the field."
The Sounders may not be in Shield contention, but they showed in 2016 that being in form at the right time is what really matters. And they’re doing it again. Last year’s run to the title began in August. This season Seattle found its form a bit earlier and now is 6-0-1 since the start of July. And Clint Dempsey is healthy this time.
There are no guarantees, of course. But with another “Rivalry Week” around the corner, TFC and Seattle have emerged as the teams to beat.
Here's how the league currently stacks up: