Real Salt Lake veteran Chris Wingert sees tough path to Supporters' Shield

SANDY, Utah — On the strength of three wins in a row, a six-game unbeaten streak and a satisfying weekend win over Seattle, Real Salt Lake have climbed to the top of the standings in the Western Conference.

But all that doesn’t mean much to defender Chris Wingert when it comes to RSL winning the Supporters’ Shield for the first time in franchise history.

“I'm going to be surprised if Kansas City doesn't win it because they're a very good team,” Wingert told reporters on Tuesday. “And I do think the West is better.”

That's not just true for MLS overall — the Western Conference is 34-19-24 against the Eastern Conference this season — but it's certainly true for Wingert's team. RSL went unbeaten (6-0-4) against the Eastern Conference in 2014. That means 22 of RSL's points have come in 10 games against the East and 20 have come in 14 games against the West.

On the other side, Kansas City are 4-2-2 against the West (with one game remaining at Chivas USA). They have 14 points in eight games against the West and 28 points in 16 games against the East.

Wingert said he wasn't so much suggesting that Kansas City have it easy in the East as he was asserting that RSL and every other team in the West have it hard against intra-conference competition.

“Every [RSL] game here on out is against the West,” he said. “So I think it's going to be tough for somebody in the West to win.”

Wingert said it would be a “huge accomplishment” to win the Shield under any circumstances.

“In our league, it's a little different because we're not playing everybody the same amount of times,” he said. “But in some ways, I think it does show who the best team is for the year.... We'll certainly be gunning for it if we're in that position.”