Beyond The Box Score: Is Children's Mercy Park the best home fortress in North America?

Right around the last time Sporting Kansas City lost a league match at Children's Mercy Park, the death of Western lowland gorilla Harambe was grabbing headlines across the country and Justin Timberlake's newly released "Can't Stop the Feeling!" sat atop the Billboard Hot 100.

If neither reference rings a bell, it's been 486 days since Manager Peter Vermes' men last suffered a regular season defeat in the confines of their own stadium.

Sporting Kansas City's club-record home unbeaten run hit 24 regular-season matches following Sunday's 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy, good for the third-longest streak in Major League Soccer's 22-year history. The chart below has made frequent appearances in our Beyond the Box Score series throughout 2017, but we offer the most updated version to contextualize Sporting KC's impressive spell on home soil.

LONGEST HOME UNBEATEN RUNS
(MLS REGULAR SEASON HISTORY)

Club # Start Stop
Houston Dynamo 30 07/09/11 04/28/13
Real Salt Lake 29 06/06/09 05/14/11
Sporting Kansas City 24 06/19/16 ?
LA Galaxy 23 04/12/14 05/27/15
Columbus Crew SC 22 06/28/08 09/26/09
Portland Timbers 22 04/06/13 05/17/14

This ascension up the all-time chart has helped Sporting Kansas City keep within reach of first place in a log-jammed Western Conference.

And with Toronto FC's 5-3 home loss to the Montreal Impact on Wednesday — the same night Sporting KC lifted the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title — this very streak lifted Vermes' side into a class of its own.

The year 2017 has seen every first-division team across the United States, Canada and Mexico suffer at least one league defeat at home — with one exception.

Indeed, if we exclude the several smaller leagues across Central America, Sporting Kansas City is the only top-flight North American club yet to lose a league match at home since the calendar turned to 2017.

FEWEST LEAGUE DEFEATS AT HOME IN 2017
(TOP-FLIGHT TEAMS IN USA, MEXICO, CANADA)

Club Home 
Losses
Date
Sporting Kansas City (USA) 0  
Cruz Azul (MEX) 1 Feb. 18
Monterrey (MEX) 1 May 6
Seattle Sounders FC (USA) 1 May 6
San Jose Earthquakes (USA) 1 May 27
Santos Laguna (MEX) 1 Aug. 13
Houston Dynamo (USA) 1 Sept. 9
Toronto FC (CAN) 1 Sept. 20

The list above includes three teams from Liga MX and five from MLS, four of which compete in the Western Conference. While Seattle, San Jose, Houston and most recently Toronto have all stumbled at home just once, Sporting KC is the only team to go unbeaten.

But what about all competitions?

Factoring in other competitive matches such as the U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League, Sporting KC's current home unbeaten run stands at 22 games. That mark dates back to Sept. 18, 2016, and is also the longest run in club history, dwarfing the previous record of 16 set two years ago. Sporting KC's last home loss of any kind came on Sept. 13, 2016, when Vancouver Whitecaps FC posted a 2-1 win to effectively eliminate Sporting KC from the CONCACAF Champions League.

That leads us neatly into this Saturday's all-important showdown at Children's Mercy Park, where Sporting KC will welcome — gasp — Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Carl Robinson's side was the most recent visiting team to emerge victorious in Kansas City.

The Whitecaps occupy first place in the West, a point ahead of Sporting KC, thanks in part to their road form. Vancouver is 5-6-2 away from home, good for the second-most road wins in MLS. Tickets for the 8 p.m. CT kickoff are available at SeatGeek.com, with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Grande 1340 AM.

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