Los Angeles FC receives the Supporters Shield before its game against Inter Miami CF at Banc of California Stadium March 1. (Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
So, the Supporters’ Shield Foundation says that there won’t be a Supporters’ Shield award this Major League Soccer season.
You got to be kidding me.
The foundation’s logic, or rather illogic was this, and I quote the organization:
“After much consideration and discussion, the Supporters’ Shield Foundation has decided to forego awarding the Supporters’ Shield for the 2020 season. This is not an easy decision to make. With the inability for supporters to be in attendance and fill their stadiums with passion, however, we feel as though the current climate goes against the spirit of the Shield.
“The Supporters’ Shield Foundation stands with our players and our supporters in knowing that this year has been one of many challenges, and we commend the support and effort given to making the best of the 2020 season as it has been.”
To which Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney, whose teams lead all Major League Soccer clubs with 38 points entering this week’s action and the stretch run, told TSN:
“My players are pissed. It is a huge sign of disrespect to the players,” Vanney told TSN. “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. This season required a huge commitment from all the teams — people were genuinely afraid for their health.
“It’s a disgraceful decision that delegitimizes the whole idea of the Shield in our opinion. 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 operate.”
Fans come in all shapes and sizes and on different media and social platforms.
Those who can’t attend a game will watch on TV or via streaming or follow their favorite team on social media.
It has been no fault of their own they can’t attend matches.
This is a special, weird, crazy, surreal year in which life has been turned upside down in so many ways and in which we lost loved ones and friends to a disease that still has not been contained and ready to return for a second or third wave.
I’m just glad we still have sports to follow.
How would MLS like it if it was decided not to have the Philip F. Anschutz trophy awarded to to the league champion this year?
Well, using the logic and argument from the SSF, there is an unbalanced scheduled since just about every club did not play enough games against interconference opponents. And then we can make the argument that the playoffs are tainted because 10 teams will qualify for the post season from the Eastern Conference (out of 14 teams) and eight from the Western Conference (out of 12 teams).
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, seven teams from each conference were slated to book a spot in the postseason.
If we do the mathematics, then 69.3 percent of the teams will compete in the playoffs, as several sub .500 clubs will be rewarded for less records that are sub-mediocrity.
In this column last week, I wrote that the 2020 MLS season should have an asterisk next to it, to help explain how things might have been different this year.
I didn’t mean to say to erase any of the traditions, just to let future soccer fans know that this season and this year has been ultra-unusual.
Canceling the Supporters’ Shield or any other traditions was the furthest thing from my mind.
Whether its Toronto FC, Columbus Crew SC or another team, whichever team finishes with the most points will be Supporters’ Shield champions in my heart.
Shame on the Supporters’ Shield Foundation.
You have lost credibility here and probably in a lot of soccer fans.
And as we have discovered, it much more difficult to regain trust after a blunder like this.