Sporting Kansas City has a whole lot on its plate between now and the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final in three weeks’ time.

For starters, the club faces a formidable two-game road trip that begins tonight against the Portland Timbers — who haven’t lost at home since April — and ends in the opposite corner of the country against Kaka and Orlando City SC.

The gauntlet continues Sept. 18 when Sporting Kansas City hosts Supporters’ Shield contender FC Dallas, then makes a daunting midweek visit to the Houston Dynamo on Sept. 23. Finally, Clint Dempsey and Seattle Sounders FC come to Sporting Park on Sept. 27 for a nationally televised clash on ESPN, just three days before the Open Cup Final.

That’s five consecutive games—three of which on the road—against clubs clawing desperately for either a playoff spot or the Supporters’ Shield. Only after the dust settles on this run of MLS fixtures can Peter Vermes’ men fully focus on winning a third Open Cup championship in club history.

Meanwhile, things are noticeably less hectic for Sporting Kansas City’s opponent in the Final. The Philadelphia Union will play three MLS matches between now and Sept. 30, two of which in the friendly confines of PPL Park. The lone road game involves a short flight to Boston for a meeting with the New England Revolution on Sept. 26.

That’s not to say the Union’s league games are straightforward. Columbus Crew SC (Sept. 12) and the Houston Dynamo (Sept. 20) pose their own respective threats, while reigning MLS Cup finalist New England has won four straight.

The table below, however, indicates that Sporting Kansas City’s month of September will be harder to navigate. Note that numbers in the table include the U.S. Open Cup Final on Sept. 30.


<strong>Sporting KC</strong>
<strong>Philadelphia Union</strong>
<strong>Total matches</strong>
<strong>Road matches</strong>
9/9 at POR<br> 9/13 at ORL<br> 9/18 vs DAL<br> 9/23 at HOU<br> 9/27 vs SEA<br><em><strong>9/30 at PHI</strong></em>
<span style="text-align: center;">9/12 vs CLB<br> 9/20 vs HOU<br> 9/26 at NE</span><br><em style="text-align: center;"><strong>9/30 vs SKC</strong></em>
<strong>Approx. air miles<br> traveled (round trip)</strong>

Overall, it’s two contrasting roads for teams hoping to lift the Dewar Challenge Trophy on the final day of September. The fun begins tonight when Sporting Kansas City (11-7-7) and the Portland Timbers — two teams dead even with 40 points and occupying the final two playoff spots in the West — kick off at 9:30 p.m. CT on KMCI-TV 38 The Spot and SKCTV.