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Race for the Supporters’ Shield

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What’s at stake for RSL this weekend? We're taking a look at the matches and what could come our way.

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy at Seattle Sounders Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Whitecaps vs New York Red Bulls – September 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm MST

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at New York Red Bulls Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps pose no immediate danger to Real Salt Lake. Sitting at ninth position in the West and well out of the post-season picture, Vancouver has switched its attention to CONCACAF knowing that the season is all but done for the Canadian side. Still, they have the opportunity to shape the Supporters’ Shield standings this weekend.

On Saturday, the New York Red Bulls will come to BC Palace hoping to snag an emphatic victory to secure three more points in the Supporters’ Shield race. Having already one the Shield twice in last three years, the Red Bulls know what it takes to make that late season push. The Whitecaps, however, might prove an obstacle in this race having only lost three times at home.

With three points from this match, the Red Bulls would move ahead of the Claret-and-Cobalt on tie-breakers in the Shield standings having played one more game than RSL.

Match Expectation: New York Victory, the Red Bulls finish the week with 43 points from 28 matches played

Colorado Rapids at New England Revolution – September 3, 2016 at 5:30 pm MST

MLS: New England Revolution at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Possibly the most important match in terms of RSL’s standings for both the Supporters’ Shield as well as the Western Conference. Currently, the Claret-and-Cobalt is second in the West with the Colorado Rapids nipping at their heels. Both clubs have 43 points but Colorado also has two games-in-hand when compared to their Rocky Mountain rival. With even a point from this match, Colorado will overtake Real in both standings.

The New England Revolution has not performed this year. With the loss of Jermaine Jones - to their visiting opponents, nonetheless - the Revs have been left with many more questions than answers this year. However, New England has only lost 15 percent of their matches at Gillette Stadium. Home-field (pitch) advantage is huge in this league an not something that should be easily overlooked.

Something to keep in mind, though, Colorado has been dipping in form as of late while the Revs have seen a slight up-tick.

Match Expectation: Tie, Colorado moves ahead of RSL with 44 points from 26 matches played

Chicago Fire vs Philadelphia Union – September 3, 2016 at 6:30 pm MST

MLS: Chicago Fire at Philadelphia Union Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The only Eastern Conference matchup of the weekend. While this will have no direct effect on if the Claret-and-Cobalt make the playoffs, it does possibly influence the Supporters’ Shield standings. Sitting at 40 points, the Philadelphia Union have the ability to draw level with RSL in the Shield standings if they are able to put away the Chicago Fire. This should not be a hard task in itself, but the Fire does have some dangerous pieces that could give the Union some headaches.

If Philadelphia manages to get out of Toyota Park with all three points, they will lead RSL in the Shield standings only by goal differential, but the Claret-and-Cobalt will have a game-in-hand over the Union – almost mirroring the New York Red Bull situation.

Match Expectation: Tie, Philadelphia ends the weekend with 41 points from 28 matches played

FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers – September 3, 2016 at 7:00 pm MST

MLS: Portland Timbers at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Another one of those matches RSL players and fans will be paying a lot of attention to. First place Dallas, in both the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings, will host the defending champions, the Portland Timbers. Both clubs have seen a shakeup of personnel over the past few weeks which could result in this match being a crap-shot for all intents and purposes. Both teams are dealing with unknowns and gaps in this final stretch of the 2016 season.

At home Dallas has been dominate boasting a 9-0-4 record. On the other hand, the Portland Timbers have been simply horrible on the road losing or drawing all of their 13 away matches. Still, with Zach Loyd out with an injury and no comparable replacement for Fabian Castillo, Dallas could find themselves in a hard place both defensively and offensively.

Match Expectation: Dallas win to pull further away from the pack with 51 points from 28 matches played

LA Galaxy vs Columbus Crew SC – September 3, 2016 at 8:30 pm MST

MLS: LA Galaxy at Columbus Crew SC Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Like the Timbers, the Columbus Crew also have an abysmal away record. The 2015 MLS Cup runner-up has gone through turmoil this year, and their standings show it. Sitting last in the East, the Crew will travel to Southern California in hopes of capturing some elusive inter-conference points.

The slumping LA Galaxy will look to rebound at home after posting a 0-1-4 record in the past five matches. Making matters worse, they will be without at least three key contributors in Gyasi Zardes, Jelle Van Damme, and Steven Gerrard - possibly Nigel de Jong as well.

While neither team stands out as the clear winner on paper, Columbus is dealing with far less injuries and will look to cap off the night, and the entire weekend, with at least a point.

Match Expectation: With neither team being able to break their slump, expect goals from both sides but the inevitable draw at the final whistle.

And last but not least, here is the latest Shield standings:

Supporters’ Shield Standings as of September 2, 2016.
Courtesy of MLSsoccer.com.