Shield race intensifies as Red Bulls, Dallas play simultaneously on Sunday

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

HARRISON, N.J. – Make no bones about it; Major League Soccer is giving the Supporters’ Shield race the gravitas it deserves.

MLS announced a schedule change for what they are dubbing “#DecisionDay,” changing the starting time of Sunday’s Chicago Fire, New York Red Bulls match from 5 p.m. ET slot to 7 p.m. ET. The change allows the New York Red Bulls and FC Dallas, two teams tied at 57 points atop the overall standings and fighting for the MLS Supporters’ Shield, to kick off simultaneously.

New York and FC Dallas share the same record heading into this weekend (17-10-6, 57 points). Dallas is set to take on San Jose at home while New York travel to Chicago, looking for their first ever win at Toyota Park.

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If the Red Bulls win or FC Dallas lose, New York walks away with the Supporters Shield for the second time in three years. The Red Bulls hold a distinct tie-breaker advantage with a +18 goal differential to Dallas’ +12. In other words, a 1-0 victory for New York on Sunday would only be beaten by Dallas if they manage a victory over San Jose by eight goals — a highly improbable scenario.

Both New York and Dallas have already wrapped up their respective conferences and have earned a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League for the 2016-17 campaign. The Shield win will ensure home field advantage if New York makes it to the MLS Cup Final.