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Last Week Was a Bigger Week For the Red Bulls Than You Might Think

Remember when you wanted to win the league, Hans?
Remember when you wanted to win the league, Hans?

Not only did the Red Bulls claw back to beat the Portland Timbers to win 3-2 Sunday, but the league leading San Jose Earthquakes were felled 3-1 by the Montreal Impact and Real Salt Lake gave up a goal late and fell to FC Dallas Saturday.

That, and a Sporting Kansas City victory over Toronto FC, and the Red Bulls sit at third in the Supporters Shield race, three points behind San Jose and two points behind Kansas City, with three games to play against the Sporks.

So, yeah, not only were the three points from Sunday nice, they put the Red Bulls right back in the thick of things in the Shield race and have a chance to bury their next closes competition in the East starting this weekend.

This, obviously, is no small task. The league's top three teams are all even on games. The next three, RSL, the Houston Dynamo and the Chicago Fire have played 26, 25 and 24 games respectively, complicating things a bit. Sports Club Stats give the Red Bulls a 7.7 percent weighted chance at the Shield and a 15.1 percent chance if games are considered a toss up.

Making matters worse, San Jose have seven of their remaining 10 games against teams in the bottom half of the league, alternating home and away.

Catching up to Sporting is a bit easier. Despite the fact they have four of their remaining 10 against teams in the bottom half and split 50/50 between home and the road, three of those games, including two of their away fixtures, are against the Red Bulls.

So while the Shield might be a bit of a pipe dream, nothing in MLS is guaranteed. Hell, last week the Red Bulls almost lost to one of the worst teams in the league, a team who's badness is made exponentially worse on the road. If it makes anything easier, the Quakes will be without Steven Lenhart, Jason Hernandez and Victor Bernardez against the Colorado Rapids this weekend: Lenhart and Hernandez due to red cards and Bernardez was suspended. If the Red Bulls bury their closest competitor in the East (while figuring out how to play away) and the Quakes slip up a bit -- like they did Saturday -- anything can happen.