Sporting Kansas City is going back to the MLS Cup Playoffs for the eighth straight year.
Forward Johnny Russell notched a brilliant late equalizer in Saturday's chippy 1-1 stalemate with the LA Galaxy, played amidst a steady downpour of rain at raucous Children's Mercy Park.
Russell's solo effort in the 83rd minute canceled out a first-half penalty kick from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and gave Sporting KC the least it deserved in a dominant performance that ultimately yielded a berth in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Manager Peter Vermes' side has advanced to the postseason every year since 2011, good for the third-longest active streak in MLS and just two seasons shy of the all-time league record.
LONGEST PLAYOFF STREAKS IN MLS HISTORY
|9||Seattle Sounders FC||2009-2017 (active)|
|9||New York Red Bulls||2010-2018 (active)|
|8||Sporting KC||2011-2018 (active)|
|8||New England Revolution||2002-2009|
Ibrahimovic fired the Galaxy ahead in the 25th minute under controversial circumstances, as referee Jair Marrufo awarded the visitors a penalty kick when Ola Kamara toppled to the turf under minimal (if any) contact inside the box. Sporting KC responded with a vengeance, thoroughly outplaying LA for the remainder of the match, and eventually restored parity through Russell in the late stages.
Saturday's draw extended Sporting KC's unbeaten run against LA to eight matches, their second longest regular-season unbeaten streak against any opponent. The Galaxy are now 0-4-4 versus Sporting KC since October 2015 and 0-5-6 in Kansas City ever since prevailing at Arrowhead Stadium in September 2007.
SPORTING KC: LONGEST UNBEATEN RUNS
VS. SINGLE OPPONENT (MLS REGULAR SEASON)
|9||Toronto FC||2013-2018 (active)|
|9||Tampa Bay Mutiny||1998-2001|
|8||LA Galaxy||2015-2018 (active)|
|7||New England Revolution||2005-2007|
|7||New England Revolution||2000-2003|
LA GALAXY: LONGEST WINLESS DROUGHTS
VS. SINGLE OPPONENT (MLS REGULAR SEASON)
|9||New England Revolution||2004-2008|
|9||New York Red Bulls||2003-2006|
|8||Sporting KC||2015-2018 (active)|
|7||Columbus Crew SC||2004-2007|
Although the hosts could only muster a point from the occasion, Sporting KC's recent dominance of LA continued in a big way on Saturday. Vermes' men equal a club record with 34 shot attempts over the course of the game, 22 of which coming during a breathless second half that saw Sporting KC lay siege on the Galaxy goal. Those 34 shot attempts were tied for the third-most all-time in an MLS regular season fixture.
MOST SHOTS IN A MATCH
(MLS REGULAR SEASON, ALL-TIME)
|38||New York Red Bulls||06/03/1998||L 2-1 vs. Tampa Bay Mutiny|
|36||FC Dallas||08/19/1998||L 2-1 at Miami Fusion|
|34||Sporting KC||10/06/2018||T 1-1 vs. LA Galaxy|
|34||Sporting KC||04/20/2018||W 6-0 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC|
|34||Sporting KC||05/15/2016||W 2-1 vs. Orlando City SC|
With a playoff spot secured, Sporting KC will now battle for seeding in the Western Conference heading into the final three weeks of the regular season. The top two finishers in the West will earn Knockout Round byes to the conference semifinals, playing away in the first leg on Nov. 4 before hosting the decisive second leg on Nov. 11. The No. 3 and No. 4 seeds will host single-elimination Knockout Round matches on Oct. 31 or Nov. 1 against the No. 6 and No. 5 seeds, respectively.
PLAYOFF TICKETS: Tickets for Sporting KC’s first potential home playoff match at Children’s Mercy Park are now on sale via SeatGeek.com. Sporting KC 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. If Sporting KC does not host a match in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, all individuals who purchased tickets through SeatGeek will be automatically refunded.
Sporting KC faces a pivotal two-game Western Conference road swing — visiting Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Oct. 17 and leaders FC Dallas on Oct. 21 — prior to hosting LAFC in the club’s monumental regular season finale on Oct. 28. Tickets for the all-important Decision Day showdown, slated for 3:30 p.m. CT, are now available at SeatGeek.com.