Scenarios: How Sporting can advance to the MLS is Back Tournament Knockout Stage presented by Audi

Sporting Kansas City aren't in the clear just yet, but Friday's pulsating 3-2 win over the Colorado Rapids gave the club a massive boost in its bid to reach the MLS is Back Tournament Knockout Stage presented by Audi.

Manager Peter Vermes' men will enter their Group D finale on Wednesday against Real Salt Lake knowing that a win or a draw would clinch advancement to the Round of 16. Before we dive into the qualifying scenarios below, let's lay out the Group D standings.

Group D Points   Overall
# Club PTS GP W L T GF GA GD
1 Real Salt Lake 4 2 1 0 1 2 0 2
2 Minnesota United FC 4 2 1 0 1 2 1 1
3 Sporting Kansas City 3 2 1 1 0 4 4 0
4 Colorado Rapids 0 2 0 2 0 2 5 -3

Tiebreakers: (1) Goal differential, (2) Goals scored, (3) Fewest disciplinary points

A quick refresher: the MLS is Back Tournament has divided the 24 participating clubs into six groups of four. The top two teams in Groups A through F, as well as the four best third-place finishers, will progress to the Round of 16. With that in mind...

Sporting will finish first in Group D on Wednesday if:

  • Sporting beats Real Salt Lake AND Colorado wins or ties vs. Minnesota

Sporting will finish second in Group D on Wednesday if:

  • Sporting beats Real Salt Lake AND Minnesota beats Colorado, OR
  • Sporting ties Real Salt Lake, Colorado beats Minnesota, and Sporting finishes with a better goal difference than Minnesota (or SKC and MIN finish equal on goal difference, but SKC finishes with more goals scored)

Sporting will advance to the Round of 16 on Wednesday if:

  • Sporting beats or ties Real Salt Lake

A draw would see Sporting advance to the Round of 16 as either the second-place team in Group D or one of the four best third-place teams. Four points and a goal difference of zero would guarantee that Manager Peter Vermes' men finish, at the very worst, among the four best third-place finishers.

Group D Match Schedule: Wednesday, July 22

  • 8 a.m. CT | Sporting KC vs. Real Salt Lake | ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN app
  • 9:30 p.m. CT | Colorado Rapids vs. Minnesota United FC | ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN app

Wednesday's clash versus RSL is slated for 8 a.m. CT on ESPN, the earliest kickoff to a competitive match in Sporting's history.

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