A byproduct of Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Seattle is Atlanta United has, for now, lost control of the Supporters’ Shield.
The team still leads MLS in points (41), but because it has fewer games left to play, it can be passed by the other contenders should they win out.
“We have 13 games left? Is that right?” midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said. “Let’s deal with the 13 games and see what happens.”
Atlanta United can take a maximum 39 points from those 13 games. That would give them a league-record 80 points. Toronto set the record last season when it posted 69 points.
Dallas and New York Red Bulls, which each won last week, can take a maximum of 83 points, NYCFC, which also won, can take 82, LAFC 80 and Sporting KC 75.
Atlanta United has the easiest remaining schedule of the contenders. Starting with D.C. United on Saturday, its opponents have an average of 21.69 points this season. The other contenders’ opponents have earned an average of at least 22.93 points this season.
Atlanta United has one game remaining against the contenders when it plays at New York Red Bulls. It could be helped by Dallas still has to play Sporting KC twice, LAFC and Sporting KC will play twice, NYCFC and New York Red Bulls have one derby remaining.
Someone is going to drop points. So Atlanta United doesn’t have to worry just yet.
“You can’t get to carried away with yourself,” defender Chris McCann said. “It’s only one result. There’s a long way to go, a lot to play for. When we spoke at the training ground and said you have to take it one game at a time, that’s what you have to do. This isn’t an ideal result, but as I said we have DC (United) at home and hopefully, we can take the three points. We can get momentum going into the back end of the season and try to go on a little bit of a run.”
There is another impact to the tie with Seattle. The top two seeds in each conference receive byes in the first round of the playoffs. NYCFC (40 points from 20 games) and New York Red Bulls (35 points from 18 games) can pass the Five Stripes and take the top seeds, which would push Atlanta United into third and a first-round game.
“You obviously want to win it (the game),” midfielder Julian Gressel said. “You deserve to win it, so it’s ultimately two dropped points for us. We will have to make that up somewhere or hope that other teams drop points as well. No doubt we are in the race for the Supporter’s Shield. We want to win that. Unfortunately, that’s how games go sometimes (where) you can’t find the back of the net. Last home game, we scored four. I wish we would have saved ourselves one and scored it tonight. But that’s just how it is sometimes.”