The Supporters' Shield, which is awarded to the team with the best record during the MLS regular season, will not be awarded in 2020.
MLS club supporters created the shield and first
awarded it in 1998 -- the top finishers in the 1996 and 1997 seasons were later awarded shields -- and is managed by the Supporters' Shield Foundation.
Toronto FC is the current leader in
the overall MLS standings, leading the Philadelphia Union by six points with four games to play. The Reds' 2.16 point-per game following their 1-0 win over Atlanta United is on pace to be the highest
in MLS history.
2020 MLS overall standings 1. Toronto FC (12-2-5), 2.16 PPG 2. Philadelphia
(10-3-5), 1.94 PPG 3. Columbus (10-4-4) 1.89 PPG 4. Seattle (9-4-4), 1.82 PPG 5. Orlando City (8-2-8), 1.78 PPG
Toronto FC coach Greg
Vanney said the decision was "a huge sign of disrespect" to his players.
"It's a disgraceful decision that delegitimizes the whole idea of the Shield, in our opinion," Vanney told TSN. "Those who made the decision are like kids in a park who take the ball away when the game
isn't going their way. It's childish and a symbol that they don't know how sports operates."
Toronto FC has not played a home game since Sept. 1 and had to move out of Canada to continue
playing because of Ontario health restrictions related to COVID-19. Its "home games" are being played in East Hartford, Connecticut, where it beat Atlanta United to extend its record to 6-0-2 since
its move south of the border.
"It has arguably been the most difficult season in the history of our league where people have put their health at risk to play and put games on television
for fans," Vanney added. "This season required a huge commitment from all the teams -- people were genuinely afraid for their health."
Toronto FC played in the MLS is Back Tournament, but
not without great reluctance, given the surge of COVID-19 cases in Florida in June.
The Supporters' Shield Foundation oversees the award on behalf of the Independent Supporters Council.
In its initial statement, the Supporters' Shield Foundation cited the "inability for supporters to be in attendance and fill their stadiums with passion" and "the current climate" that "goes against
the spirit of the Shield" for its decision.
The decision to not award the Shield will not change the perks that go to the top finisher in the MLS regular-season standings:
Top seed in the playoffs and home-field advantage through its postseason run; and -- A berth in the Concacaf Champions League if the winner is a U.S. team.
On Sunday, the
Independent Supporters Council issued a second statement, clarifying the reasons for the Foundation's decision not to award the Supporters' Shield in 2020.
The Council cited "schedule/matchup imbalances" for the decision. Toronto FC's schedule has included four games against Montreal and three against Vancouver and NYCFC. MLS will likely used points per game to decide the final standings
because of the matches in the 23-game schedule that can't be made up because of COVID-19 issues.
Columbus and Orlando City became the third and fourth teams to clinch playoff berths in the Eastern Conference. After the two MLS conferences were switched from a 13-13 split to 14-12 when play
resumed in July, the allocation of playoff berths was altered to award 10 teams in the Eastern and eight in the Western Conference -- all but the bottom four finishers in both conferences.
Galaxy's unlikely hero. LA Galaxy's six-game losing streak ended when it beat the Vancouver Whitecaps, 1-0, at Dignity Health Sports
Park. The unlikely hero with the last-minute goal was Dutch-American Kai Koreniuk, who had been joined LA Galaxy II in 2019 and was signed to an MLS contract in June when play was about resume.
He had played all one minute before entering Sunday's match in the 87th minute.
Results: Saturday, October 18 Chicago 2
(Beric 45+1, Mihailovic 90+5)Sporting KC 2 (Hurtado 35, Kinda 83). Montreal 2 (Bojan 6, Urruti 80)Inter Miami 1 (Shea 33). Sunday, October 19 Columbus 3 (Artur 26, Santos 50, Zardes 90+3)NYCFC 1 (Castellanos 55). NY Red
Bulls 1 (White 90+5)Orlando City 1 (Nani 56 pen.). FC Cincinnati 1 (Vazquez 66)D.C. United 2 (Pines 36, Odoi-Atsem 78). Toronto
FC 1 (Piatti 89)Atlanta United 0. Minnesota United 2 (Finlay 11, 30)Houston 2 (Rodriguez 59, Hansen 83). Portland 1 (Ebobisse
47)LAFC 1 (Torres 90+3). LA Galaxy 1 (Koreniuk 90)Vancouver 0. San Jose 0 Seattle 0. Colorado vs. Real Salt Lake(postponed).