Sporting KC punches ticket to 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs with 1-0 road win at FC Cincinnati

Sporting Kansas City (11-6-3, 36 points) clinched a berth in the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs following a 1-0 road win over FC Cincinnati (4-13-4, 16 points) on Wednesday night at Nippert Stadium.

The result guarantees Sporting Kansas City a top-eight finish in the Western Conference and vaults the club back into first place with two scheduled matches remaining in the regular season.

Second-half substitute Roger Espinoza scored the match-winner in the 57th minute on an assist from forward Alan Pulido. Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia posted his second straight shutout and moved into sole possession of first place on Kansas City’s all-time regular season saves chart, passing club legend Tony Meola. Cincinnati were afforded the opportunity to equalize on the hour mark, but Siem de Jong’s penalty kick clattered off the post.

Under the guidance of Manager Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City has sealed a return to the postseason after their club-record eight-year playoff streak from 2011-2018 ended last year. Vermes, who has led the club to the 2013 MLS Cup title and three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championships, becomes the first head coach in MLS history to reach the playoffs nine times with a single club.

Boasting a 5-1-1 during the month of October and one point ahead of second-place Seattle Sounders FC in the West, Sporting Kansas City will return to Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday to host Minnesota United FC in the club’s final regular season home match at Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT with tickets available at and live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City, FOX Sports Midwest, FOX Sports GO, ESPN 94.5 FM and La Grande 1340 AM.

After facing Minnesota, Sporting Kansas City will conclude the regular season on Nov. 8 with a visit to rivals Real Salt Lake as part of MLS Decision Day 2020 presented by AT&T. The Audi MLS Cup Playoffs will then begin later in November and unfold in a single-game, bracket-style format through MLS Cup on Dec. 12.