Although the New York Red Bulls will have an opportunity over the next few days to exercise a little rest and relaxation time, it will be business as usual for other teams around the league as the 2013 MLS Cup postseason continues to take shape.
Wednesday night’s action didn’t involve New York directly, but two of the matches had some implications on the Red Bulls’ Supporters’ Shield Standings.
The first match of the night kicked off from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, where the Red Bulls will pay a visit to in the next regular season match on October 20. On this particular night though, the action in Houston pitted the Dynamo against Sporting Kansas City, a club that is certainly within striking distance for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
SKC entered the match with a total of 51 points, just two behind the Red Bulls’ 53. A win would have naturally catapulted the side into sole possession of first place and left both New York and KC with two games remaining on the schedule. As for Houston’s place in the table, a win would’ve been ideal for the club as they looked to pad their 47-point total, but a result of any kind would at least bode well for the team as it heads into the final two matches of the season.
The end point was, to put it simply, an ideal result for the Red Bulls. With both sides ending the match in a 0-0 draw, SKC and Houston earned just a point each, allowing New York to maintain possession of first place in the Eastern Conference, while also drawing level with both clubs in games played. It’s still a tight race in the East, seeing as how New York is just one point over SKC heading into the weekend, but RBNY’s place in the East standings rests solely in their own hands.
Action out West marked another platform in which results could play a part in New York’s run for the Supporters’ Shield. Fresh off a 5-1 trouncing at the hands of the Colorado Rapids last weekend, the Seattle Sounders were looking for an opportunity to bounce back in front of the home crowd against the still-playoff-contending Vancouver Whitecaps FC. It wasn't in the cards, as a tremendous three-goal outing for Vancouver rookie Kekuta Manneh helped power the Whitecaps to a crucial 4-1 victory. The three points moved Vancouver within striking distance of the final spot in the Western Conference playoff bubble, but more importantly for New York, helped keep Seattle from snagging a result and staying in prime contention for the Supporters’ Shield.
There may not be much soccer left to play during the regular season, but the implications are bigger now than they were before. For the Red Bulls, anxious to claim the Supporters’ Shield just one week after securing a spot in the postseason, winning out against the Houston Dynamo on Oct. 20 and the Chicago Fire on Oct. 27 would obviously be ideal. Yet it still wouldn’t guarantee the Supporters’ Shield outcome; at least not until the final week of the Red Bulls’ schedule. By then, we would ultimately have a better idea of where teams in contention stand, such as the Seattle Sounders (51 points, three games remaining) and Portland Timbers (50 points, three games remaining).
For the record, here are the tiebreaker scenarios for the standings, according to the Major League Soccer Competition Rules and Regulations:
When two or more teams are tied in the standings on points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss), the following tiebreakers will be used in the sequence below, until one team ranks ahead of the other(s):
1. Most Wins
2. Goals For (See column labeled GF on www.MLSsoccer.com/standings page)
3. Goal Differential (GD)
4. Fewest Disciplinary Points
5. Road Goals
6. Road Goal Differential
7. Home Goals
8. Home Goal Differential
9. Coin Toss (2 teams) or Drawing of Lots (3 or more)