Team of the Week: Sporting KC quartet shines during road swing

MLSsoccer.com’s penultimate Team of the Week has a distinct Sporting Kansas City flair to it.

After securing two massive road wins in the space of four days — a 4-1 defeat of Vancouver was followed by a 3-0 triumph over FC Dallas — three Sporting KC players joined Manager Peter Vermes among the best performers in Week 34.

Today marks the first MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week coaching selection for Vermes, who has steered his side to first place in the Western Conference ahead of Sunday’s crucial Decision Day finale against LAFC at Children’s Mercy Park.

The weekly accolade also went to forward Daniel Salloi, defender Matt Besler and goalkeeper Tim Melia, all of whom shouldered leading roles for a Sporting KC side that clinched a home playoff game with Sunday’s win against FC Dallas.

Team of the Week: Sporting KC quartet shines during road swing -

Salloi scored three goals during the two-game road swing, bagging a brace Wednesday in Vancouver before smashing home the game-winner on Sunday. The Hungarian is tied for the Sporting KC lead with 10 league goals and 12 in all competitions, while his 19 combined goals and assists in all competitions are the most among MLS Homegrown Players this season.

Besler anchored a pair of stout defensive performances, totaling 12 clearances across the two games in addition to assisting Yohan Croizet’s second-half equalizer at Vancouver. The center back helped lead Sporting KC to its 13th clean sheet on Sunday, becoming the first player in Sporting KC history to reach 300 competitive appearances and 250 regular season starts.

Melia, meanwhile, saved his best for Sunday. The goalkeeper turned away a Reto Ziegler penalty kick in the 49th minute to keep Sporting KC ahead 1-0 and finished with five saves on the afternoon, including several of the jaw-dropping variety. The reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year is tied for the MLS lead with 13 shutouts in 2018 and has now saved six of the 12 penalties he has faced over the last two regular seasons.

Sunday’s win ensures that Sporting KC can finish no worse than fourth place in the West. As a result, Sporting KC is guaranteed to host at least one game in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, marking the first time the club has hosted a postseason match since winning MLS Cup on Dec. 7, 2013.

Tickets for Sporting KC’s freshly clinched home playoff tilt at Children’s Mercy Park are now on sale via SeatGeek.com. Season Ticket Members will automatically retain their seats for all playoff matches, excluding the MLS Cup final, and can contact their Client Services Executive for questions and further information.

Prior to kicking off their postseason campaign, Sporting KC will host LAFC in their regular season finale at 3:30 p.m. CT on Sunday. Tickets for the monumental matchup are available at SeatGeek.com as the top two teams in the Western Conference battle for the No. 1 seed.

Below are Sporting KC’s seeding scenarios going into Decision Day. All 11 MLS matches will kick off simultaneously at 3:30 p.m. CT.

Sporting KC can clinch a No. 1 seed if…

  • Sporting KC beats LAFC, OR
  • Sporting KC ties LAFC, AND
    FC Dallas fails to beat Colorado by 15 or more goals

Sporting KC can clinch a No. 2 seed if…

  • Sporting KC ties LAFC, AND
    FC Dallas beats Colorado by 15 or more goals, OR
  • Sporting KC loses to LAFC, AND
    Colorado beats or ties FC Dallas, AND
    San Jose beats or ties Seattle