Preview: First place up for grabs as Sporting KC hosts LAFC in monumental Decision Day showdown

Sporting Kansas City vs. Los Angeles Football Club
Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018 | 3:30 p.m. CT
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
2018 MLS Regular Season | Game 34 of 34

Broadcast Schedule:
English TV | FS1
Spanish TV | FOX Deportes
English Radio | SiriusXM FC, ESPN 94.5 FM
Spanish Radio | ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM
Mobile | FOX Sports GO, Sporting KC Uphoria

Uphoria App | By The Numbers | Five Things to Know
Game Notes | Media Guide | MatchCenter | Videos

The top two teams in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference will square off Sunday with the No. 1 playoff seed up for grabs on the final day of the regular season. Wielding a pair of high-powered attacks, first-place Sporting Kansas City (17-8-8, 59 points) and second-place LAFC (16-8-9, 57 points) are set to meet at Children’s Mercy Park in one of 11 matches slated to kick off concurrently at 3:30 p.m. CT as part of MLS Decision Day presented by AT&T.

A limited number of tickets for the monumental showdown, including standing-room only tickets, are available via SeatGeek.com, and the first 5,000 fans through the stadium gates will receive a free pop socket courtesy of match sponsor PNC Bank. With drama running high on Decision Day, Sporting KC will add to the occasion by hosting its Fan Appreciation Match, headlined by thousands of prize giveaways exclusively through the Sporting KC Uphoria app.

Sunday’s contest has received top billing as the featured MLS match on FS1, FOX Sports GO and FOX Deportes, airing live across the country with periodic look-ins from other games as the MLS regular season comes to a thrilling conclusion. Listeners can also catch the action live nationally on SiriusXM FC and locally on ESPN 94.5 FM and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.

By the end of Sunday, either Sporting KC or LAFC will have the top seed in the West and a Knockout Round bye to the two-legged conference semifinals of the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs. Sporting KC would finish first with a win or a draw, while LAFC must win in order to supplant Manager Peter Vermes’ side for the No. 1 seed.

Sporting KC can still finish anywhere from first to fourth, having clinched their first home playoff game since the 2013 MLS Cup. The top two seeds will earn Knockout Round byes, while the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds will host a single-elimination Knockout Round match on either Oct. 31 or Nov. 1 against the No. 6 and No. 5 seeds, respectively.

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

Coming off their best two-game road swing in team history, Sporting KC enters Decision Day riding a wave of momentum. After beating Vancouver Whitecaps FC 4-1 last Wednesday, Vermes’ men posted a 3-0 triumph over FC Dallas to replace their Texas at the summit of the standings. Daniel Salloi scored three goals across the two matches, entering a tie with fellow forward Johnny Russell for the team’s scoring lead at 10 league goals and 12 in all competitions. Russell also scored on Sunday, becoming Sporting KC’s fourth player ever to reach double-digit goals and assists in the same MLS season.

Salloi and Russell form part of a red-hot Sporting KC offense that has set multiple club records over the course of 2018, including all-time regular-season highs in goals (63), away goals (31), assists (67) and shots (575). The team’s backline has also performed consistently throughout the year, ranking second in MLS with 13 shutouts while boasting the third-best scoring defense at 1.18 goals per game.

On the opposite sideline, head coach Bob Bradley has led LAFC to one of the best seasons ever for an MLS expansion side. The high-octane outfit owns the second-best scoring offense in MLS at 2.03 goals per game and leads the league with 35 away goals through 16 matches. Mexican star Carlos Vela has a team-best 13 goals while Uruguayan youngster Diego Rossi and European veteran Adama Diomande have bagged 12 each, making LAFC the only MLS club to have three players with at least a dozen league goals in 2018.

LAFC dropped two valuable points on Sunday in a 2-2 home draw to Vancouver. Rossi struck twice in the first 15 minutes to put the hosts comfortably ahead, but the Whitecaps rallied with goals in either half from Yordy Reyna and Jordon Mutch to salvage a tie in Los Angeles.

The inaugural meeting between these clubs saw Sporting KC hand LAFC their first and only home loss to date at Banc of California Stadium on Aug. 11. Gerso Fernandes fired the visitors into an early lead before Ilie Sanchez sealed the result with a second-half penalty kick, marking one of just three occasions this season in which LAFC has been shut out. Sunday’s rematch will be a Children’s Mercy Park homecoming for former Sporting KC duo Benny Feilhaber and Latif Blessing, who have both shouldered important roles at LAFC since moving from Kansas City to Los Angeles last winter.

Since losing at home to Sporting KC, LAFC have gone 6-1-3 with 22 goals scored and 11 conceded. Vermes’ men have been just as strong since the start of August, going 8-2-2 over their last dozen MLS fixtures while outscoring opponents 24-9.

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