Toronto FC, Philadelphia Union battle for ball

With the Supporters’ Shield back and a huge showdown between Toronto FC and the Philadelphia Union coming Saturday night (7:30 pm ET | TSN 1/4 in Canada; MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US) at Subaru Park, the race is on to see who finishes atop the standings with Decision Day rapidly approaching.

Let’s take a closer look at the top contenders and their remaining 4-5 regular season games. And here’s who FiveThirtyEight thinks are the most likely to claim the Shield.

Toronto FC (41 points)

Matches remaining: at PHI, vs. NYC, vs. MIA, at RBNY

Toronto FC are the clear favorite to capture a second Shield and those odds will only increase with a win over the Union Saturday night. Although Jozy Altidore is still out injured, Michael Bradley is back in the mix, Alejandro Pozuelo is arguably the favorite for the Landon Donovan MVP award and Greg Vanney’s side are unbeaten in their last nine. Their upcoming schedule is considered the 10th most difficult in the most recent Strength of Schedule Rankings.

Philadelphia Union (38 points)

Matches remaining: vs. TOR, vs. CHI, at CLB, vs. NE

The Union are seeking their first major trophy in the club’s history and a win over Toronto FC would put them level on points with the Shield leaders heading into the stretch drive of the season. A 2-1 loss to TFC in East Hartford Oct. 3 is their only in the last 10 games. Brenden Aaronson said he wants to win silverware before leaving for Red Bull Salzburg in January, but Philadelphia have the third most difficult remaining schedule — and toughest among Shield contenders.

Columbus Crew SC (34 points)

Matches remaining: at HOU, at DC, vs. PHI, at ORL, vs. ATL

Crew SC have a game in hand on both Toronto FC and Philadelphia, and are getting healthy at the right time with Darlington Nagbe, Eloy Room and Lucas Zelarayan back from injury and all looking to play a role in Saturday’s match at Houston (8 pm ET | TV & streaming info). If Columbus claim a fourth Supporters’ Shield, which would tie them with LA Galaxy and D.C. United for most in league history, the back-the-back matches against the Union and Orlando City SC will loom large.

Seattle Sounders FC (32 points)

Matches remaining: at VAN, at COL, at LA, vs. SJ

Brian Schmetzer has previously said he’s not thinking about the Shield, but the Sounders are among the contenders to win the trophy for a second time in club history. If a home game against Colorado isn’t rescheduled, Seattle play three of their remaining four games away from CenturyLink Field and the Sounders are a pedestrian 2W-2L-2D on the road this season. A huge question will be the return of Raul Ruidiaz after testing positive for COVID-19 while on International duty with Peru.

Portland Timbers (32 points)

Matches remaining: vs. LA, vs. VAN, vs. COL, at LAFC

The Timbers haven’t missed a beat to remain in the Shield chase despite losing Sebastian Blanco to a season-ending injury in early September. Gio Savarese’s side are home for three of their final four games, but Providence Park hasn’t been the fortress it has in the past with the Timbers 3W-3L-2D at home this season. Portland have lost just once in their last nine games, but they’ve conceded a stoppage-time equalizer in their last two draws. Add in those four dropped points and the Timbers would be third in the standings with them.

Orlando City SC (32 points)

Matches remaining: at MIA, vs. ATL, at MTL, vs. CLB, vs. NSH

Yes, the Lions are nine points behind Toronto FC, but there’s reasons to believe they can capture their first-ever Supporters’ Shield title. First, no one is hotter than Oscar Pareja’s side at the moment, taking a 12-match unbeaten streak to Fort Lauderdale for a massive derby match against Inter Miami Saturday (3:30 pm ET | Univision, TUDN, Twitter in US; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada). Secondly, they have the least difficult remaining schedule of Shield contenders — and second overall in the league to D.C. United.