Five Things, presented by Keith + Associates Dentistry, is a weekly series on SportingKC.com that highlights the top storylines, players to watch and matchday programming ahead of each game throughout the season.
Eliminated from postseason contention for the first time since 2010, Sporting Kansas City (10-15-8, 38 points) will embrace the spoiler role on Sunday when they visit playoff hopefuls FC Dallas (12-12-9, 45 points) as the MLS regular season comes to a dramatic close on Decision Day. Kickoff at Toyota Stadium is slated for 3 p.m. CT with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports GO, ESPN 94.5 FM (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish).
While Manager Peter Vermes' men have nothing to lose this weekend, FC Dallas will take the field knowing that anything less than a win might crush the side's playoff hopes. With that in mind, let's jump into five things you should know ahead of Sunday's fixture.
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1. Closing the Curtains
Sporting players and coaches haven’t sugar-coated the fact that 2019 will go down as a disappointment. The club’s eight-year playoff streak, the fourth-longest in MLS history, is officially a thing of the past. Four losses and a draw in the club’s last five games have done little to quell the frustrations of a campaign that has unfolded bitterly since an exit in the Concacaf Champions League Semifinals to eventual champion Monterrey.
Even so, Sporting has an opportunity on Sunday to do what they did last weekend against the Portland Timbers: take points off a desperate team that has yet to punch its playoff ticket. FC Dallas falls squarely into that category, currently occupying the seventh and final postseason spot in the Western Conference.
2. Path to the Playoffs
One point above eighth-place San Jose and three points above ninth-place Colorado, FC Dallas can secure a berth in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs with any of the following scenarios:
- A win over Sporting, OR
- A draw if San Jose loses or ties at Portland, OR
- A loss if San Jose loses at Portland and Colorado loses or ties at LAFC
3. Sporting Standouts
Last Friday at Pitch Black presented by Audi, Sporting announced the following winners for team awards: MVP Felipe Gutierrez, Offensive Player of the Year Johnny Russell and Defensive Player of the Year Tim Melia. All three players will have the opportunity to cement their standout seasons on Sunday.
- Gutierrez has a team-best 12 MLS goals, tied for the most among league midfielders in 2019. Can he break his tie with Orlando City SC talisman Nani?
- Russell has nine goals in 2019, one shy of becoming the fourth player in club history to hit double-digit goals in back-to-back regular seasons.
- Melia has 45 regular season shutouts, one shy of passing Jimmy Nielsen for sole possession of first place in team history.
4. Decision Day Drama
FC Dallas is one of four teams battling for two playoff spots in the wild West. The only team in the conference that knows its playoff seeding is Supporters’ Shield champion LAFC, which will have homefield advantage throughout the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
The East’s seven playoff berths have all been clinched, but only first-place New York City FC knows its exact seeding going into the postseason. Long story short: there’s tons and tons to be decided in the final 90 minutes of the regular season campaign.
5. Party at the Pub
With Sporting on the road this weekend, supporters across the Kansas City region are invited to Sunday watch parties at any of the club's official pub partners. Among them is No Other Pub in the Kansas City Power & Light District, serving as the flagship hub for Sporting in the heart of downtown at 1370 Grand Blvd.
To celebrate the occasion and close out the season in style, No Other Pub will offer an endless wings and bottomless domestic draft beer package at just $30 per person, plus $4 specials on Bud Light drafts, Corona bottles and Captain Morgan cocktails. No Other Pub will also conduct raffle giveaways for a variety of autographed Sporting merchandise.