As Major League Soccer celebrates Audi MLS Cup Playoff Week, SportingKC.com is once again pushing the rewind button to revisit 10 of the club’s greatest postseason victories. The following 10 matches—handpicked by the author—are assembled in chronological order, and although they do not present an exhaustive recap of Sporting’s playoff successes, these games inarguably stand as some of the most revered in club history.
1996 Conference Semifinals: W 3-2 vs. Dallas Burn (Sept. 26, 1996)
Just 4,466 fans were in attendance to see the Kansas City Wiz make their playoff debut at Arrowhead Stadium—oh, how times have changed—but spectators were rewarded with an absolute classic. Matt McKeon and Preki scored late goals as Kansas City earned a 3-2 comeback victory to take Game 1 of the conference semifinals against the Dallas Burn.
2000 Conference Finals: W 2-0 vs. LA Galaxy (Oct. 6, 2000)
In order to reach MLS Cup, the Supporters’ Shield-winning Wizards had to defeat the LA Galaxy in regulation and then win the subsequent mini-game tiebreaker. Kansas City did just that in Game 3 of the conference finals at Arrowhead Stadium, with Miklos Molnar scoring in regulation and sudden-death extra time.
2000 MLS Cup: W 1-0 vs. Chicago Fire (Oct. 15, 2000)
Goalkeeper Tony Meola put a bow on his MLS MVP campaign with 10 saves in the 2000 MLS Cup, willing the Wizards to their first league championship. Miklos Molnar bagged the game’s lone goal in the early stages, and that was all that Kansas City’s stingy defense would need to close things out against the star-studded Fire.
2004 Conference Semifinals: W 3-0 vs. San Jose Earthquakes (Oct. 30, 2004)
Trailing the San Jose Earthquakes 2-0 going into the decisive second leg of the conference semifinals at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City staged perhaps its biggest comeback in club history. In second-half stoppage time, Jack Jewsbury struck from outside of the box to seal a 3-0 second-leg victory and push the Wizards to the conference finals on aggregate.
2004 Conference Final: W 2-0 vs. LA Galaxy (Nov. 5, 2004)
Club great Davy Arnaud put the Wizards on his back in this single-game conference championship, scoring on both sides of halftime to sink the Galaxy and give Kansas City its second MLS Cup appearance.
2011 Conference Semifinals: W 2-0 vs. Colorado Rapids (Nov. 2, 2011)
The first playoff match at Children’s Mercy Park did not disappoint, even if it was played amidst cold and rainy conditions. Aurelien Collin and C.J. Sapong found the back of the net to put the finishing touches on a 4-0 aggregate defeat of the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids.
2013 Conference Semifinals: W 3-1 vs. New England Revolution (Nov. 6, 2013)
Manager Peter Vermes’ men fought back from a 2-1 first-leg deficit to win this instant classic of a second leg at Children’s Mercy Park. Collin and hometown left back Seth Sinovic scored in regulation to send the series to extra time, where Benny Feilhaber assisted Claudio Bieler’s dramatic winner in the 113th minute.
2013 Conference Finals: W 2-1 vs. Houston Dynamo (Nov. 23, 2013)
Sporting exorcised their Houston Dynamo demons with a cathartic 2-1 win at Children’s Mercy Park. After falling behind within three minutes, Sporting restored parity through Sapong and then surged ahead near the hour mark when Feilhaber’s impudent scoop pass was finished brilliantly by Dom Dwyer.
2013 MLS Cup: T 1-1 (W 7-6 in PKs) vs. Real Salt Lake (Dec. 7, 2013)
One of the greatest games in Kansas City sports history saw Sporting and Real Salt Lake battle to a 1-1 draw through regulation in one of the coldest MLS matches on record. RSL drew first blood in the 52nd minute, but Collin’s leaping header drew the sides level less than a half-hour later. In the 10-round penalty shootout that decided the contest, goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen produced a flurry of outstanding saves and Collin buried an inch-perfect penalty kick as Sporting emerged victorious inside a raucous Children’s Mercy Park.
2018 Conference Semifinals: W 4-2 vs. Real Salt Lake (Nov. 11, 2018)
After waiting nearly five years for the playoff to return to Kansas City, the Children’s Mercy Park faithful were rewarded with a six-goal thriller on Veteran’s Day in 2018. Diego Rubio scored early, Ilie Sanchez converted a penalty and Daniel Salloi bagged a brace—including an unforgettable no-look finish into an empty net to seal the win deep into stoppage time—as Sporting won the series 5-3 on aggregate against their Utah rivals.