Voices: Sacha Kljestan

Stock Up, Stock Down: FC Cincinnati overtake Inter Miami in Shield race


The summer of soccer continues! Shout out to Jesse Marsch and the Canadian men's national team on their historic run to the Copa América semifinals. Many players on his squad currently play in MLS or began their careers here, so it's great to see.

We are starting to see a separation between the better teams in MLS and the bottom half. We saw dominant victories this weekend by Salt Lake, Columbus, Cincinnati, Orlando, Colorado and Portland – all by three or more goals.

The cream is rising to the top in what's looking like one of the best Supporters' Shield races we have ever seen in the history of MLS. I have six teams in the mix to take home the regular-season trophy! I can't wait to watch it unfold over the next few months.

Let's dive into the past week that saw most teams play twice.


Nobody in MLS had a better week than FCC. They took all three points at D.C. United, then came home and absolutely smashed Inter Miami. Most importantly, they overtook Miami atop the table to lead the league standings. Can they be the first team since the LA Galaxy in 2010-11 to repeat as Supporters' Shield winners? Definitely.

Luciano Acosta has been amazing, arguably the MLS MVP again in 2024. Luca Orellano has been a revelation, showing his versatility to play wingback or even attacking midfielder as he did this weekend against Miami.

Can they find a way to survive a couple of games without Miles Robinson as he soon departs for the Olympics? They need center backs fast, especially with Matt Miazga and Nick Hagglund out for the year.

Another team that is firmly in the Supporters' Shield race is the Crew. They are in sensational form, having won four in a row and eight of their last nine matches. The Crew must keep winning their games in hand to make up ground in the race, but I am confident they can.

Cucho Hernández has been the catalyst for much of Columbus' success in attack. The biggest question recently was who would replace Aidan Morris in the middle of the park after his transfer to Middlesborough in England. First it was Sean Zawadzki and then it was Alex Matan. They won those three games by a combined score of 11-1! Safe to say Wilfried Nancy knows what he's doing.

The Black & Gold had their Sunday match postponed due to terrible weather in Texas, but took home the W in El Tráfico at the Rose Bowl before that. Denis Bouanga hit the scoresheet again to keep LAFC first in the Western Conference.

Since Aaron Long returned from injury, LAFC have gone 12 games unbeaten across all competitions. In MLS play, it's nine wins and one draw with Long returning to center back.

Steve Cherundolo's group is the hottest team in MLS right now and have a mouth-watering MLS Cup rematch with Columbus in downtown LA this Saturday night (10:30 pm ET | Apple TV - Free).

The Sounders are heating up.... finally! They have four wins and a draw in their last five matches in MLS.

In the Western Conference, the top is locked up with LAFC, RSL and Galaxy. But after that, Seattle have the players to duel with Colorado for that coveted No. 4 spot. Remember: finishing fourth gives you home-field advantage early in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

Don't be surprised to see Seattle continue to climb the table in the coming months.

The Rapids are another team that is on a roll right now. Winners of five of their past six matches, their only blemish is a 3-0 loss at LAFC.

Chris Armas has done a phenomenal job with this young team. Djordje Mihailovic has been their best and most efficient player in attack, leading the team with 10 goals and nine assists. However, he will miss a few upcoming matches as he was selected for the US team to compete at the Olympics in Paris. Can they keep up the wins without their No. 10?

Cole Bassett should slide into that position for the time being and he's definitely capable of handling those duties.


Lately, it's been a terrible run of form for D.C. United. Goalkeeper Tyler Miller started things off horribly against Cincinnati midweek and they never recovered, losing 3-2 at home. Then D.C. United visited Orlando and got smashed 5-0.

We talked to Aaron Herrera on MLS Countdown, and I asked him what D.C. need to get back into a playoff position. His answer was to stop blowing leads and shooting themselves in the foot. They need to figure it out before it's too late, although I really fear it is.

Losing has become a habit in D.C. lately, and it's hard to get out of it.

The Reds are also on the struggle bus. They have now lost six in a row after giving up a 1-0 lead at home to Orlando midweek, then going to Columbus and getting dominated in a 4-0 loss. The loss at Columbus is expected – the Crew are one of the elite teams in the East – but Toronto were in total control early against Orlando. Toronto had more possession and good chances, yet lost the match.

Like I said with D.C. United, losing becomes a habit and when your confidence drops, you start wondering if you will ever win a match again. On the bright side for Toronto, they still sit in the East's ninth and final playoff spot. The East is such a fight right now, every point matters and TFC have a good opportunity to start a winning streak at home against Philadelphia this coming Saturday (7:30 pm ET | Apple TV - Free).