TORONTO — Ever since FC Dallas claimed the U.S. Open Cup last week, the chatter in Major League Soccer circles has been about that team's chances at locking up a domestic treble — the first of its kind in MLS.
The talk is normal, given that the North Texas club has been at or near the top of the overall league standings for most of the 2016 campaign so far. And with Dallas grabbing the Open Cup, the chatter has become nearly deafening.
But one of the quirks of a two-country league is that there are a pair of national champions crowned each year, which brings about the rare possibility of a two-team race for the domestic treble.
This year, Canadian Championship winner Toronto FC has turned that possibility into reality, even after Sunday's come-from-behind 3-3 draw with the New York Red Bulls at BMO Field.
With 52 points, Dallas is still the odds-on favorite to claim the Supporters' Shield as the top regular season side in MLS, but TFC's comeback allowed the Canadian club to climb to within five points of the top spot with a game in hand.
The Shield — the second of three trophies an MLS club needs to claim a domestic treble, followed by MLS Cup — is within touching distance for TFC, especially as Toronto plays four of its final five regular season matches within the friendly confines of BMO Field. All five remaining games for Toronto are against opposition much further down the table.
"We obviously have our eyes set on it, but at the same time we know that performances today aren't going to get us to the Supporters Shield," TFC coach Greg Vanney said after Sunday's wild affair, which saw the team claw its way back from two separate two-goal deficits before splitting the points with the Red Bulls.
"The interesting part about this group is that they're disappointed that we got a draw, because their vision for what the want for themselves is to get out in front of the Eastern Conference."
"There wasn't a massive celebration in the locker room today because we've solidified our spot in the playoffs," Vanney on team's mindset.— Laura Armstrong (@lauraarmy) September 18, 2016
Toronto currently sits two points clear atop the East, but the team is looking at bigger goals after becoming the first club to clinch a berth in the 2016 postseason, though of course Dallas is not far from booking its passage to the postseason in the West.
"It's been a goal since mid-January," defender Drew Moor said of the Supporters' Shield. "We took a hit tonight, as good as this result was, but we still feel that, not just with our schedule but just with the way we're playing and how badly we want to win the Supporters Shield, that it's still a very important goal for us."
Other teams are still very much alive in the race for MLS' top regular season prize, as the LA Galaxy and Colorado Rapids have positioned themselves as legitimate challengers for the Shield alongside the treble chasers. But in the quest to make league history in winning three trophies in a single season, only Dallas and Toronto remain.
For Vanney, the opportunity to win all the silverware available to his club is there for the taking. The Canadian Championship was secured in June, the Shield is now within view, and MLS Cup is still very much in play.
"[The] Supporters Shield is for sure one of the things [we have targeted]," Vanney explained. "But we also want to be in form as we move into the playoffs."
What better way is there to find form than by being embroiled in the most unique trophy chase in Major League Soccer history?