LEHI, Utah – The fact that Real Salt Lake are still in contention for the Supporters' Shield is, in a word, remarkable.
At the beginning of July, the LA Galaxy held a 12-point lead over RSL in the race for the league’s best regular-season record. The Galaxy were unbeaten at the time with 10 wins in 12 games, and they did not appear to be slowing down.
Since then, however, Los Angeles have stumbled, while RSL have managed to close the gap to a single point.
“At the beginning of the year, we had our goals where we had four trophies to play for,” RSL midfielder Andy Williams told MLSsoccer.com. “Unfortunately, we got knocked out of the Open Cup, and so we have three [goals] right now.”
[inline_node:308548]Those remaining goals include the MLS Cup Championship, the CONCACAF Champions League and the Supporters' Shield. And while some may underrate the Shield, RSL defender Nat Borchers maintains that his team is very serious about winning it.
“To win the Supporters' Shield would be a fantastic thing to put in our trophy case," he said. "It’s one of the toughest things in sports to do: to say that you were the best team over the entire whole season.
"I don’t think American fans really rate that as high as the MLS Cup, but I think we in the locker room do. And I think that’s our goal right now – we’re in contention and we’re going to fight for it until the end.”
With a victory against Seattle on Thursday, RSL would take the lead in the race for the honor. They currently sit one point back of both LA and Columbus, who each have 44 points on the season. A win would vault them ahead of both teams – at least until this weekend’s contests are played out.
“It’s already been mentioned to the players,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis said. “It would be huge. There’s no doubt about it, we feel a lot of pride in what we’ve done here over several years. And to kind of answer a lot of naysayers, and what they had to say about us at the end of last season would be gigantic in my opinion.”
The head coach of the reigning MLS champions also felt that winning the Shield could send a message to the rest of the league.
“You thought we were just a good team at the end of last year,” Kreis said. “We’ll show you over the course of 2010 what kind of team we are.”