Major League Soccer’s season gained more meaning Friday.
In a decision reversal, the Supporters’ Shield Foundation will now award the trophy to the MLS club with the best overall record. The five-person Foundation board, whose members are appointed by the Independent Supporters Council (ISC) and include one representative from the reigning club winner, made the announcement Friday via Twitter.
“After consulting with all of the MLS ISC representatives, we, the Supporters’ Shield Foundation board, will be reversing our initial decision and awarding the Supporters’ Shield for the 2020 season,” read the statement in part. “You asked to be heard. In the end it was your input and votes that showed us this is the right choice.”
The Foundation revoked the Shield last week. Among the reasons were the league’s further unbalanced schedule due to travel restrictions amid the pandemic and some teams, including the Sounders FC, not permitting fans to attend matches.
“The conversations we have had over the last week have proven that a winner should be declared no matter what,” the statement continued.
The Shield was established in 1998 as a gift to MLS and its supporters. The Sounders were awarded the trophy in 2014 after topping the league with a 20-10-4 record.
MLS reiterated Friday the club with the best overall record will also still receive the financial bonus, CONCACAF Champions League berth and top-seed home field advantage throughout the playoffs, which are slated to begin Nov. 20.
Sounders keeper Stefan Frei was among those critical about the Foundation’s initial decision to not award the Shield. As defending champions, the team publicly stated they were aiming for the 2020 honor and MLS Cup, especially since the trophies are the only remaining titles MLS teams can win.
“You can’t limp into that trophy, you have to have a really good year,” Frei said during a video conference call Sunday of why the Shield is significant.
After a 1-1 draw against rival Portland on Thursday, Seattle trails Toronto FC in the Shield race. The Sounders (9-4-5) have 32 points to the Reds’ 41. Toronto (12-2-5) faces the Philadelphia Union (11-3-5), which is second in Shield standings, on Saturday.