Here's the truth plain and simple: The Seattle Sounders only need to play even with the LA Galaxy for the rest of the season in order to win the Supporters' Shield courtesy of them owning the tiebreak. That might be easier said than done, but it's worth pointing that out as the season heads into its final four matches.
Here how their schedules compare
Sunday at Colorado Rapids (8-14-8, -13 GD): After a reasonably strong start, the wheels have really come off for Pablo Mastroeni's team. They've only won two of their 15 games since the World Cup break and they're on a 10-game winless run in which they've claimed just two points and been outscored 30-10. It's worth pointing out, though, that the Rapids have been far more competitive at home where they've gone 0-2-2 during this winless run and both losses were by one goal. The Rapids are also looking a bit healthier after a run of bad luck that had left them down to their third and fourth choice enter backs.
Must-win factor: 5. While a win would be really great here, the Sounders can probably live with a tie.
Oct. 10 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (9-8-13, -7 GD): Their fate seemed to be sealed a few weeks ago when they were pummeled by the Portland Timbers and fell out of playoff position. But here we are with four weeks left in the season and suddenly their are back in the No. 5 spot and coming off an impressive win over Real Salt Lake. But that result came at home where they are very good. On the road, they've won just two games all season, are winless in their past nine and have scored just two goals in their past five.
Must-win factor: 8. Mathematically neither of these games are literal must-wins and the Sounders would still win the Cascadia Cup with a tie, but the Sounders really need to win this game for psychological reasons, if nothing else.
Saturday vs. Toronto FC (11-11-7, -3 GD): The Reds' struggles have been well documented, but they've righted the ship lately and actually come into this game on a two-game winning streak. Granted, one of those wins was against Chivas USA and the other was at home against the Portland Timbers, who lost their captain to a broken leg in the first minute. Still, wins are wins and now TFC may even get Jermain Defoe back. TFC has also been respectable on the road, going 4-5-5. The Galaxy should win, but TFC is certainly capable of pulling a result.
Must-win factor: 9. With the Sounders facing two very beatable opponents, the Galaxy probably need at least three points to avoid a situation in which they need to sweep the Sounders.
Oct. 12 at FC Dallas (14-10-6, +12): The Galaxy have won both the previous encounters, including one a couple weeks ago, but both were at StubHub Center and were reasonably competitive. The most recent match saw the Galaxy score a pair of second-half goals to overcome a 62nd-minute deficit. Dallas has also been very good at home, going 11-3-1. If the Galaxy are going to drop points, this is probably where it happens.
Must-win factor: 5. A tie is probably a perfectly acceptable result for them as long as they beat TFC. Going into the Seattle series trailing by two points wouldn't be the end of the world for them as they'd only need to win at home and salvage a tie on the road to win the Shield.