Sense of urgency runs high as Sporting prepares to visit Vancouver

After a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire last weekend, Sporting Kansas City has an opportunity to continue to fight for a playoff spot this weekend against Vancouver at 9 p.m. CT.

With just 15 games left in the season, Sporting sit five points below the playoff line and are striving to secure its ninth straight playoff spot. Sporting forward Johnny Russell addressed the challenge of staying in the postseason race on Wednesday.

“I wouldn’t say it’s desperation, (but) every guy in the locker room knows that we need to win if we have any aspirations of being in the playoffs,” Russell said. “There are a lot of teams that are close in points, so we need to go on a run. We know how many games we are going to have to win if we want to accomplish something this year. It has to start now.”

Sporting midfielder Ilie Sanchez also discussed what the team has to do in order to climb the standings.

“Right now we are in a place that no one expected us to be in this season. So that’s why we need to focus game by game, starting again on Saturday in Vancouver,” Ilie said. “I think that it will be a really difficult and challenging game for us, but I think that we can get three points from that game. That’s what we need, three points every weekend and we will see if we can get into the playoffs.”

Manager Peter Vermes reflected on last Saturday’s win against Chicago and how important that victory was moving forward to Vancouver Saturday.

“To get those points at home was important, and I think the other thing is we played a really good game consistently for 90 minutes. It wasn’t 30 minutes in the first half and 15 in the second half, we played a good 90 minutes,” Vermes said. “We’ve always been very good defensively in this club, and for some reason this year we have struggled there. We showed some good signs Saturday of steps in the right direction and hopefully we can continue that throughout the rest of the season.”

Sporting previously faced Vancouver at home on May 18, which resulted in a 1-1 draw from a late Whitecaps goal during stoppage time. Ilie addressed what the team must do at Vancouver and what they are expecting from them.

“We have to be more confident, and that will give us the chance to score more goals,” Ilie said. “Vancouver has a really good coach [Marc Dos Santos] and they are trying to adapt to what he wants. They are tough and they run a tough game for 90 minutes. We know that they have a game tonight, so we will see what players they use tonight and what players they save for Saturday. All 15 games that are left will be a challenge for us, so we have to start on Saturday.”

The Western Conference clash will kick off at 9 p.m. CT as Vermes' men aim to secure a second straight victory. For supporters looking to catch the action on TV, FOX Sports Kansas City Plus and FOX Sports Midwest Plus will air three straight hours of live coverage starting at 8:30 p.m. CT, including 30 minutes of pregame and postgame. Saturday's game will also be joined in progress after Kansas City Royals baseball, which is scheduled to finish at approximately 9:15 p.m. CT.

Saturday’s contest will also stream live on FOX Sports digital platforms, available for viewers within Sporting’s TV footprint who receive FOX Sports Kansas City or FOX Sports Midwest as part of their pay-TV subscription. To stream the game, fans must sign in with their pay-TV provider user ID and password.