For the Los Angeles Galaxy, winning a second straight Supporters' Shield has seemed inevitable for some time.
With some help, it can become official this weekend.
The Galaxy will try for their fourth straight win Saturday night when they host Real Salt Lake, who will be without captain Kyle Beckerman.
Los Angeles has looked in playoff form all season, but the Galaxy (17-3-10) have been particularly impressive recently. They have won three straight games by shutout and have a six-match unbeaten streak overall.
With 61 points and a seven-point lead over second-place Seattle, Los Angeles can clinch the Supporters' Shield with a win and either a loss or tie by the Sounders, whose game against New England starts three hours earlier.
The Galaxy should know the outcome by their kickoff. They are coming off a 1-0 win over Columbus on Saturday, the team's 16th shutout, which is one shy of the league mark. Chad Barrett scored in the third minute of stoppage time while Josh Saunders made four saves.
Saunders has seven clean sheets this season, including one in which he came in as a substitute for Donovan Ricketts on June 25. Ricketts has since returned from a broken arm suffered in that game and he started in a 1-0 victory over Colorado on Sept. 9 as the team continues to have the two goaltenders share time.
Saunders started the Galaxy's 2-1 win over Mexican side Morelia in CONCACAF group play Wednesday.
Not surprisingly, Los Angeles is confident as it heads into the weekend, with Wednesday's come-from-behind win adding to mentality.
"I think we've done a good job of staying pretty even-keeled," defender Todd Dunivant said. "I think that's part of why we've been successful. We haven't dwelled on our wins and dwelled on our successes this year because we know there's still a lot to be done."
Although third-place Salt Lake (15-9-6) have only a slim chance of catching the Galaxy, they haven't helped their cause by losing the last two after a five-match winning streak.
It suffered a 3-0 loss to Chicago on Wednesday, playing a man down for nearly the entire match after Beckerman was sent off in the 11th minute for head butting Daniel Paladini.
It was the second straight game Salt Lake allowed an opposing player to record a hat trick, and coach Jason Kreis is frustrated by what he views as a lack of discipline.
"I won't be sleeping tonight because, for me, to take two results like this in a row at this time of year could be critical," Kreis said. "The questions now are in front of the players, how will they react."
Beckerman will sit this match to serve his one-game suspension for the red card, and he still may face further discipline from the league.
"It's not like me," he told the league's official website. "I made a mistake and ... made a decision that was really hurtful to the team. And I'm so sorry for that."
RSL, which has four wins and five draws in the last 10 matches between the teams, defeated the Galaxy 4-1 on March 26, but Los Angeles was without Landon Donovan.