With just two and a half months of the MLS season left to play, it’s time to start paying attention to the standings. While the race for the Supporters’ Shield and playoff position in the East is important, perhaps the most important race is for the fifth and final spot in the 2019 Concacaf Champions League. This spot will be awarded to the top American club in MLS with the most combined points over the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The spot was originally due to go to the winner of the 2017 MLS Cup, but Toronto FC are only allowed to qualify for this tournament through the Canadian Championship. Here’s a weekly update on how the table for the final CCL spot looks:
Race for the final 2019 CCL spot
Thanks to a moment of madness from Jozy Altidore and a brilliant individual performance from Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, New York City FC have pulled ahead of Atlanta United in the standings by just one point.
Both teams have 10 matches remaining with the New York Red Bulls sitting close with a game in-hand. The race for the final CCL spot is very similar to the race for the best team in the East and Supporters’ Shield. If any of the three teams put distance between themselves and the two other teams, they’ll likely take home all the spoils.
Updated #MLS Shield Contenders/Schedule/Remaining Opponents. #ATLUTD will play the bottom six teams on the league table, and has by far the easiest sked the rest of the way. Portland, despite more matches to play, has the toughest opponents. #RBNY #NYCFC #DTID #RCTID pic.twitter.com/JULIPbwWE1— Mark Fishkin (@MarkFishkin) August 12, 2018
Statistically speaking, Atlanta has the weakest remaining schedule left. Seven of their 10 remaining opponents currently sit out of a playoff position.
Away form will be crucial for the Five Stripes with six of 10 coming away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They have been the best road team in the league so far, but will need to sustain that form if they are to earn something for their great season.
All’s left to play for entering the homestretch. This is why we watch. Buckle up.