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Stretch run is not in Seattle's favor

Despite having a five-point lead on DC and LA Sounders FC will need to do more than maintain form to win the Supporters' Shield.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Though it looks like the Supporters' Shield and Western Conference regular season title race are down to D.C. United (Shield only) and the LA Galaxy after Seattle's win things are not all roses. A five-point lead is strong, but with a harsher schedule than most and both of those sides having easy MLS schedules Sounders FC should not be considered the favorites for the Shield.

Right now, it looks pretty good. The red line in the Shield hunt is simply beautiful.

1 Seattle Sounders FC 51 26 1.96 16 7 3 48 35 13 22 11 26 2
2 D.C. United 46 26 1.77 14 8 4 42 30 12 25 14 17 -2
3 LA Galaxy 46 25 1.84 13 5 7 48 27 21 27 16 21 5
4 Real Salt Lake 43 26 1.65 11 5 10 40 31 9 22 10 18 -1
5 FC Dallas 42 26 1.62 12 8 6 45 34 11 26 9 19 2
6 Sporting Kansas City 42 27 1.56 12 9 6 38 32 6 21 5 17 1

Salt Lake, Dallas and Sporting are nearly out of the hunt for the regular season title, but they will still feature in the end of season battle and the two teams in the West will be angling to avoid the Play-In Round. The focus is on LA and DC though.

The LA Galaxy are the team that expected Goals sees as best right now (sidereal's version actually has LA as 2.5 times better than the Sounders). Good news! United are awful by that measure (sidereal has United 2nd worst). LA also has a game in hand. Good news! United do not and they have three CCL matches still to come, all of them in creating pressure on weekend league matches. Sporting Kansas City could actually catch DC since they are really good, despite a slump, and DC has that fixture congestion. Except it is a fixture congestion of some weak teams.

United Sagarin
at VWFC 0.00
at RBNY 0.04
at CF* 0.08
v PU * 0.82
v SKC 0.70
at HD 0.53
v CF 0.59
at IMFC* 0.56

* for matches after CCL games.

That's a rough string of road matches to start, but Olsen should get three points from the three played. Their match against KC could determine the East crown. If DC didn't have those CCL games and having just lost Rolfe they would be likely to pick up something like 18 points. That would put them at 64 on the season and create significant competition for Seattle. Instead they are almost certainly going to take the East's spot in the next CCL cycle.

The LA Galaxy and Bruce Arena create a different problem for Seattle. There's the game in hand and the end of season home-and-home series. If neither team falls off of form Sagarin expects them to basically enter that series tied in the standings with about 63 points. That is enough points to win the Shield in all but four MLS seasons.

That damned schedule.

Sounders Sagarin Galaxy Sagarin
v RSL 0.53 v CR 1.17
at RBNY 0.19 at IMFC 0.96
at FCD -0.21 at SJQ 0.53
v TBD 1.60 v FCD 0.86
at CR 0.10 v RBNY 1.26
v VWFC 0.97 v TFC 1.36
at LAG -0.66 at FCD 0.04
v LAG 0.16 v SFC 0.66
at SFC -0.16

LA is favored in every non-Seattle game - heavily favored in most. Seattle is the underdog once.

Sagarin's Predictor is not the end-all be-all of systems for MLS prediction. It's slightly better than just picking the home team to win every match (by that Seattle enters the LA series with 60 points to Galaxy's 58).

But it is a decent enough quick way to see how difficult the schedule is. In order for Sigi Schmid and the hydra to win a trophy they've never won before Seattle Sounders FC will need one of the three best seasons in MLS history, while also vanquishing their toughest on-field competition.

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