Sporting Kansas City are on the cusp of their eighth straight playoff appearance and a win against the LA Galaxy this Saturday (7:30 pm CT) will officially mark them down for the 2018 postseason.
After winning MLS Cup in 2013, Sporting KC have been knocked out in the Knockout Round of the playoffs, every season since. Their last home game in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs was the MLS Cup final in 2013. That has been driving them forward all season long.
“I think that’s been in our minds all year,” said Sporting defender Seth Sinovic. “We’ve been in the Knockout Round, away for the last four years. Results haven’t gone our way so we’re doing everything we can to not be in that position come this year.”
In 2014, they dropped a 2-1 result late to the New York Red Bulls thanks to a brace from Bradley Wright-Phillips. In 2015 they dropped their contest in heartbreaking fashion in the infamous “double post” game to the Portland Timbers. They conceded a lead twice and eventually lost in heart breaking fashion in penalty kicks.
In 2016 they lost at the death to the Seattle Sounders on Nelson Valdez’s 88th minute winner. Valdez’s goal was controversial as replay showed him offside when the ball was played, while Matt Besler had a goal disallowed on a narrower margin earlier. And then in 2017, they lost in extra time to the Houston Dynamo after having numerous chances to bag a goal in regulation.
All four games were losses. All four games away from Children’s Mercy Park.
Sporting KC have four games left in the season, and two of those four are against teams that are their direct competition for that spot, in first-place FC Dallas and third-place LAFC. Sporting head coach Peter Vermes expects a tough battle at the end for those guaranteed home games, and especially the top two seeds.
“I think it’s a given that any team wants to get as high as they can to get home field advantage. So I think everyone that’s in contention for it, is fighting for it. And we’re no different,” he said.
Avoiding recent history is a clear goal for this Kansas City team.
“We think about finishing the regular season as high as we can,” said Sporting KC midfielder Ilie Sanchez. “…and knowing that will help us to have a better spot than the last years. But every year is different and we just think about getting that first place or second if we cannot be first, to have home field advantage.”