Wednesday's 2-1 setback at the Houston Dynamo was a missed opportunity to clinch a playoff spot for Sporting Kansas City, who remain in sole possession of second place in the Western Conference with two regular-season matches still to play.
Heading into the second of back-to-back games against Houston on Sunday at Children's Mercy Park, Sporting KC sits on 48 points. Remarkably, just one team in the West has secured a playoff berth ahead of Major League Soccer's penultimate weekend. Manager Peter Vermes' men can finish anywhere between first and eighth in the final standings.
Here's an updated look at Sporting KC's remaining schedule and magic numbers.
SPORTING KC'S REMAINING SCHEDULE
|Sunday, Oct. 15||HOUSTON DYNAMO||6:30pm||FOX Sports KC/Midwest|
|Sunday, Oct. 22||at Real Salt Lake||4pm||FOX Sports KC/Midwest
(subject to change)
Sporting KC's magic number to make the playoffs is 1
The team needs a single point from its final two matches to punch a ticket to the playoffs. Sporting KC could conceivably lose both and still qualify, if any two of FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake and San Jose Earthquakes fail to win both of their remaining games.
Sporting KC's magic number for a home playoff game is 3
A win over the Dynamo on Sunday would guarantee that Children's Mercy Park hosts a playoff game for the first time since 2013. That means a top-four finish in the West.
Sporting KC's magic number for a knockout-round bye is 6
A top-two finish would give Sporting KC a knockout-round bye, avoiding the one-and-done fixture in which Vermes' side has lost three years straight. Wins in both of their remaining games would see Sporting KC accomplish that goal.
It's also possible for Sporting KC to clinch a top-two spot as early as Sunday if the team beats Houston and the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders FC both lose at home to D.C. United and FC Dallas, respectively.
WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS (THROUGH OCT. 11, 2017)
|1||Vancouver Whitecaps FC (X)||51||2||57||15-11-6||VAN, at POR|
|2||Sporting Kansas City||48||2||54||12-8-12||HOU, at RSL|
|3||Portland Timbers||47||2||53||13-11-8||DC, VAN|
|4||Seattle Sounders FC||47||2||53||12-9-11||DAL, COL|
|5||Houston Dynamo||46||2||52||12-10-10||at SKC, CHI|
|6||FC Dallas||43||2||49||10-9-13||at SEA, LA|
|7||Real Salt Lake||42||2||48||12-14-6||at COL, SKC|
|8||San Jose Earthquakes||42||2||48||12-14-6||at VAN, MIN|
|9||Minnesota United FC (e)||36||2||42||10-16-6||at LA, at SJ|
|10||Colorado Rapids (e)||30||2||36||8-18-6||RSL, at SEA|
|11||LA Galaxy (e)||29||2||35||7-17-8||MIN, at DAL|
(X) - Clinched playoff spot
(e) - Eliminated from playoff contention
Tie-breaking procedures: (Number of wins, then goal differential, then goals scored, etc.)