Here’s a quick mental exercise I think proves my point. Without cheating – do not, I repeat, do not open a new tab – count back year by year and name each season’s Shield winner until your mind goes blank. How far did you get?
OK, now count back year by year and name every MLS Cup winner until you’re grasping at straws. Did it come to you easier, even just a little bit? It certainly does for me, and there’s no doubt winning Cup changes a club more than a Shield. Just ask the New York Red Bulls.
Sorry, that was a cliché low blow.
But it could all change this year! Forget one or the other, why not win both and pull a Toronto FC? The Red Bulls could do it, and so could Atlanta United. But they’ve got to win the Shield first, and that looks like a two-horse race given New York City FC’s swan dive out of the one-time Big Three.
I’m not going to do the schedule-parsing, nitty-gritty analysis here, apart from reminding you of a couple key and obvious facts:
- Atlanta United are one point
backahead with one game in hand
- The Sept. 30 game at Red Bull Arena between these two is quite obviously massive
In the meantime, here’s what winning the Supporters’ Shield would mean to each club, from supporters of each club.
New York Red Bulls
I’m going to step aside for a second. Nobody has the pulse of the Red Bulls like Seeing Red’s Mark Fishkin.
a) Another piece of hardware in a trophy chest that needs work— Mark Fishkin (@MarkFishkin) September 14, 2018
b) Home field through the playoffs
c) three Shields in six years, standard of regular season excellence
That basically sums it up.
The Red Bulls have been there, done that with the Shield, but regular-season supremacy is still worth plenty, as a standalone accomplishment, in historical context and, ultimately, in pursuit of MLS Cup.
There is no downside to winning the Shield —and I don’t think there’s upside to ceding it to ATL.— Bryan Rice (@bricey16) September 14, 2018
I know we’ve won a couple already but every trophy is sacred. Sure we want MLS Cup very badly, but for this roster to come up empty on trophies thisyear would be a disappointment
For me it means a lot. What are you playing all these games for if it’s not to finish on top of the table? No one can win MLS in March, or June, or October so if the Shield doesn’t matter than what’s the point of it all?— Matt (@Metros96) September 14, 2018
in my view it would consolidate an era of dominance beginning (at least) in 2013. three differentiterations of the team, all top of the table. you've started to see folks referring to those squads as team lore and this would cap it off— abolish the entire DHS (@britbyrd1) September 14, 2018
Red Bulls willhave won the league the same way it is won in leagues around the world. It's a privilege to earn the Shield.— Sylvana Budesheim (@WhiteZinWench) September 14, 2018
Fun major trophy. It's not MLS cup sowe won't be satisfied. But if we win the shield and have a deep playoff run I dont think anyone can be disappointed— Super74 (@vealcutlet22) September 14, 2018
In the interests of transparency, my kid just woke up from a nap. Take it away Atlanta supporters!
It would mean a lot. It is the best indicator of team strength in MLS and would signify the great job the FO and coaching staff have done in roster building. And it would be the first piece of silverware. That's always special.— Jeremy Darnell (@JeremyDarnell1) September 14, 2018
I value it just as much as MLS cup. It's a more accurate reflection of best team in over the season. Forthe club and city it would be massive especially b/c we don't win many titles.— Pierce (@cursive_kid) September 14, 2018
It would mean a lot! Second only to the cup. So much was said about soccer not surviving in the south and it's great proving everyone wrong at every step.— football watcher man (@heckfu) September 14, 2018
It would be massive! It speaks to the overall health of the club and how well we planned and executed in our first 2.5 years. As a fan, it has been the goal of the season because it pays off the emotions we invested in games against a Chicago, a Minnesota,or even Orlando.— Kevin Goreham (@KevinGoreham) September 14, 2018
It would mean a tattoo on my right leg to memorialize the 1st Major Trophy in Club History; as a #FoundingMember it’d be an absolute thrill and honor!— Ambassador to Nambia (@Devon4Real) September 14, 2018
In every major league, the Shield accomplishment winsthe league. Which is what it would mean to me, and would serve as the benchmark to assess superiority. The Cup is a second chance for others, a North American tradition, and another chance to dominate. It matters less.— Kev (@KeenelandKev) September 14, 2018
Personally, winning the Supporters Shield is more important than the MLS Playoffs. Winning the league in the regular season should be the standard.— Brian Bailey (@bbaileyusa) September 14, 2018
For the club, the CONCACAF Champions League berth would be tremendous.International marketing and better competition with Liga MX.
It’d mean a lot, we have to “hang a banner” if you will, but without the Cup at the end too.. it’d be a let down unfortunately. Just how it is.— CW3 (@Cwthree) September 14, 2018