Playing schedule math (revisited): How the Sounders win the Supporters' Shield

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Sounders are currently one point ahead of the pace we said they'd need to keep in order to win the Supporters' Shield.

We've received a few requests to revisit this post from August in which we made a map that would result in the Seattle Sounders winning the Supporters' Shield. The good news: the Sounders are ahead of the pace I projected they needed to keep. The bad news: the Sounders still have quite a bit of work to do in order to 58 points.

Real quick, here's a recap of what I said the Sounders needed to do in the seven games they've already played:

  • vs. Portland: I said they needed to win. They won. 3-of-3.
  • @ Columbus: I said they needed to win. They won. 6-of-6
  • vs. Chivas USA: I said they need to win. They won. 9-of-9
  • vs. Chicago: I said they needed to win. They won. 12-of-12
  • vs. Real Salt Lake: I said they could tie. They won. 15-of-13
  • @ Galaxy: I said they could lose. They tied. 16-of-13.
  • vs. New York: I said they needed to win. They tied. 17-of-16.

So that's obviously pretty good. The Sounders have clearly put themselves in a very good position to win their first ever MLS hardware. I originally said the Sounders needed to get to 60 points in order to win the Shield. Six teams are still capable of reaching that mark, although that would require five of them to win out. Of those, I'd say at least the Red Bulls, who would need to win a pair of home games as well as a road game against the Houston Dynamo, have a pretty good chance of running the table.

That means the Sounders might actually have to get to 62 points to guarantee themselves the Shield, as the Red Bulls would own the tiebreaker (in this case goals scored because both teams would have 18 wins) in any permutation in which both teams have 61.

Here's what the Sounders are going to have to do in order to get to 62:

  • Oct. 5, @ Colorado. I originally said this was a must-win. Considering the bar has been raised since my last column, I'd say that's still the case.
  • Oct. 9, vs. Vancouver. I originally said this was a must-win. That's still the case. The good news is that the United States has, in fact, clinched their spot in Brazil which at least opens up the possibility that Clint Dempsey will be available. I wouldn't be surprised if Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans are called away, though. As an aside, if the Whitecaps beat the Timbers this weekend or there's a tie in that game, the Sounders would clinch the Cascadia Cup with a win.
  • Oct. 13, @ Portland. I originally said the Sounders could afford to lose this game. The new math might not allow the Sounders that luxury. I'd now say a tie here is the safe play, as it would also lock up the Cascadia Cup as long as the Sounders don't lose to the Whitecaps.
  • Oct. 19, @ Dallas. I originally said this was a must-win. Now that Dallas really looks like they'll just be playing out the string at this point, it's even more of a must-win.
  • Oct. 27 vs. Galaxy. I originally said this was a must-win. As it turns out, I was being over-zealous then as a tie would have still got the Sounders to 60 points in my original scenario. In any case, a tie here would still get the Sounders to 62 points (assuming the other results go as needed).

Of course, that would also mean the Sounders finished the season on a 12-match unbeaten run. That's a tall task, but I'm not seeing a lot of losable games if the Sounders are to win the Shield. Of course, the path gets a lot easier if no other teams gets to 60, as those two ties could become losses, for instance.

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