This year’s Toronto FC squad could be good enough to win the Supporters’ Shield, but is that something they should be aiming for?
Toronto FC fans are dreamers. Always have been, always will. And this year’s road warriors have caused no shortage of this. Doing well in the MLS is tough. We know that first-hand. But it’s finally looking like this is the year we could achieve something truly remarkable.
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Eight weeks into the season, the Reds have a 3-2-2 record, taking 11 points from seven games. That’s two points better than last year. The MLS ranked them #1 in their weekly Power Rankings, leading people to make them early season Supporters Shield favourites.
After what we’ve been through, Toronto FC deserves to win something of significance other than the Voyageurs Cup. While the Supporters Shield would be a fantastic achievement for a club that has done nothing but disappoint their fans for the last 10 years, it has little to no significance at this point in time, especially to Canadians.
With the conferences so lopsided this year due to the dominant Western Conference, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Toronto FC won the Supporters Shield, considering they play two thirds of their games against Eastern Conference opponents. The Supporters Shield is awarded to the team with the highest points in either conference at the end of the year in an unbalanced league. It would mean a lot more if teams played a home and away fixture against everyone like European leagues do instead of playing some teams once and others three times in a season.
For American teams, the Supporters Shield at least means a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League. Because this spot is assigned by the USSF, Canadian teams are not eligible for this. The only way a Canadian team can qualify for the CCL is to win the Voyageurs Cup. While the Supporters Shield does guarantee you a bye past the knockout round of the playoffs, second place in your conference also gets you that.
I personally would rather see Toronto win the Voyageurs Cup and the MLS Cup before the Supporters Shield. Do not be concerned if Greg Vanney decides to rest players, and we lose some games that we should perhaps win throughout the year. Let’s take this one step at a time and first qualify for the playoffs with a first round bye. If we win the Supporters Shield, great. If not, oh well.
Our opponent on Sunday, the Portland Timbers, were crowned MLS Cup Champions and finished third in their conference last year. Truth be told, if we try to think too far into the future, we’ll drive ourselves insane. So let’s be excited for our Reds no matter what, and let’s do something great this year!