After finishing atop the Western Conference regular season standings, Sporting Kansas City will look to punctuate an unprecedented 2020 campaign by winning silverware on Major League Soccer's greatest stage. The Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs will see Sporting join an expanded field of 18 clubs, all of which have their sights firmly set on hoisting the MLS Cup on Dec. 12.
In order to claim the ultimate prize, Sporting Kansas City must navigate a single-elimination bracket packed with in-form teams. The first step is a Round One showdown with the No. 8 seed San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday, Nov. 22, at Children's Mercy Park. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. CT with live coverage on FS1 and FOX Deportes and tickets available at SeatGeek.com.
As postseason anticipation continues to build, SportingKC.com is rolling out a 12-day countdown to the club's opening playoff match, offering a comprehensive preview of the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs. From key storylines and positional breakdowns to history lessons and community initiatives, our Countdown to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs highlights the many reasons to be pumped for Sporting’s pursuit of another MLS Cup title. To visit the series homepage as it expands, head to SportingKC.com/playoffcountdown.
In its brief, decade-long existence, world-class Children's Mercy Park has hosted several high-stakes instant classics. The 2012 and 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Finals. Three matches during the 2013 MLS Cup run. Veterans Day in 2018. A bevy of late-game comebacks in the regular season. The list goes on and on.
With the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs running through Children's Mercy Park on the Western Conference side of the bracket, there's a decent chance that list of unforgettable games grows. We'll wait and see for now, but until then, let's revisit five of the best playoff matches in the stadium's already illustrious history.
2011 Conference Semifinals: W 2-0 vs. Colorado Rapids (Nov. 2, 2011)
The first playoff match at Children’s Mercy Park did not disappoint, even if it was played amidst cold and rainy conditions. Aurelien Collin and C.J. Sapong found the back of the net to put the finishing touches on a 4-0 aggregate defeat of the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids.
2013 Conference Semifinals: W 3-1 vs. New England Revolution (Nov. 6, 2013)
Manager Peter Vermes’ men fought back from a 2-1 first-leg deficit to win this barnburner of a second leg on home soil. Collin and hometown left back Seth Sinovic scored in regulation to send the series to extra time, where Benny Feilhaber assisted Claudio Bieler’s dramatic winner in the 113th minute.
2013 Conference Finals: W 2-1 vs. Houston Dynamo (Nov. 23, 2013)
Sporting exorcised their Houston Dynamo demons with a cathartic 2-1 win, spreading ecstasy among the Children’s Mercy Park faithful. After falling behind within three minutes, Sporting restored parity through Sapong and then surged ahead near the hour mark when Feilhaber’s impudent scoop pass was finished brilliantly by Dom Dwyer.
2013 MLS Cup: T 1-1 (W 7-6 in PKs) vs. Real Salt Lake (Dec. 7, 2013)
One of the greatest games in Kansas City sports history saw Sporting and Real Salt Lake battle to a 1-1 draw through regulation in one of the coldest MLS matches on record. RSL landed the first haymaker in the 52nd minute, but Collin’s leaping header restored parity less than a half-hour later. In the 10-round penalty shootout that decided the contest, goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen produced a flurry of outstanding saves and Collin buried an inch-perfect penalty kick as Sporting emerged victorious inside a raucous Children’s Mercy Park.
2018 Conference Semifinals: W 4-2 vs. Real Salt Lake (Nov. 11, 2018)
After waiting nearly five years for the playoff to return to Kansas City, the Children’s Mercy Park supporters were rewarded with a six-goal thriller on Veteran’s Day in 2018. Diego Rubio scored early, Ilie Sanchez converted a penalty and Daniel Salloi bagged a brace—including an unforgettable no-look finish into an empty net to seal the win deep into stoppage time—as Sporting won the series 5-3 on aggregate against their Utah rivals.