In soccer circles, the debate over which trophy holds more value – the Supporters’ Shield or the MLS Cup – has been simmering in recent weeks. And in this discussion, FC Cincinnati’s coach, Pat Noonan, offers an intriguing perspective that deserves our attention.
Recently, FC Cincinnati celebrated their conquest of the Supporters’ Shield after an impressive regular season that secured them the highest number of points in 2023. A 3-2 victory over Toronto FC sealed the deal, and Noonan took the opportunity to share his viewpoint on the matter.
Noonan, who took charge of FC Cincinnati in 2022, expressed an opinion that may surprise some: to him, the Supporters’ Shield now surpasses the MLS Cup in terms of relevance. His perspective is grounded in the idea that consistency over a season is more significant than a knockout tournament.
And he is not alone in this opinion. Veteran defender Nick Hagglund, also a Supporters’ Shield winner in 2017 with Toronto FC, concurs with Noonan. They emphasize how MLS is unique in its playoff format, where the title is decided through a series of knockout matches. While in many other soccer leagues, the title is awarded to the team with the best regular season performance, the Supporters’ Shield recognizes excellence in that regard.
However, it’s important to note that the valuation of one trophy over the other is a matter of perspective. The MLS Cup, with its exciting playoff format, is still highly esteemed by many players, coaches, and fans, both within and outside the United States.
As the discussion continues to evolve, FC Cincinnati now has a new goal in mind: surpassing the single-season points record set by the New England Revolution in 2021. It’s a challenge that could further solidify the importance of the Supporters’ Shield for Noonan and his team.
Regardless of where you stand in this debate, one thing is clear: soccer in the United States is evolving, and the conversation between the MLS Cup and the Supporters’ Shield is an intriguing part of this transformation. Ultimately, whichever trophy the FC Cincinnati team aims for, their recent journey of success is a testament to the commitment, perseverance, and passion that drive the sport. And, for the passionate FC Cincinnati fans, that is a cause for well-deserved celebration and pride.