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 at Children's Mercy Park. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. CT with live coverage on FS1, FOX Deportes, the FOX Sports app, ESPN 94.5 FM and La Grande 1340 AM.
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.
The final installment of our playoff countdown sets the menu of everything at stake for Sporting Kansas City. After a historically long, disjointed and unpredictable regular season campaign, Manager Peter Vermes’ men have clawed up to first place in the Western Conference and will look to capitalize on their homefield advantage by bringing MLS Cup glory back to Kansas City.
On the eve of Sporting’s playoff opener against the San Jose Earthquakes, we examine why the 2020 postseason has so much on the line.
Despite finishing atop the West with an attractive and high-scoring style of soccer, Sporting hasn’t exactly capture the imagination of pundits and casual observers across the country. As a small-market team, Vermes’ side is often cast as an afterthought in the Western Conference, with the likes of Seattle, Portland and LAFC dominating the discussion.
Furthermore, Sporting earned zero league awards at the end of the regular season. No Coach of the Year finalists, no Best XI selections, no Newcomer of the Year accolades, no Goal of the Year winners. The eyes of the league are in places other than Kansas City. Sporting has a big shot to change that.
2. Three’s Company
Only the LA Galaxy (five) and D.C. United (four) have three or more MLS Cups. Sporting, the Houston Dynamo, San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders FC are all on two apiece. Could LA and D.C. be joined by a third member to boast a treble of titles? Sporting will certainly hope so.
On a related note, Sporting also has the opportunity to become the only MLS club with three MLS Cups and three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups since the turn of the millennium in 2000.
3. Champions League
This one’s simple, folks. Win the MLS Cup and you receive a berth to the 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, the premier club competition in North America. The tournament has been a gauntlet for MLS teams since its inception, but it’s only a matter of time before an MLS club breaks through as the winner and represents the league at the FIFA Club World Cup.
4. Title Town
It seems like Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl 10 years ago. In reality, it was 10 months ago. Regardless, the point is that Sporting has the platform to continue a glorious run of major professional sports championships in the City of Fountains. Sporting got the ball rolling in 2013, the Kansas City Royals followed with a 2015 World Series, and the Chiefs took their crown back in February. How incredible would it be if the Chiefs and Sporting took league titles in the same calendar year?
5. A Light in the Dark
The year 2020 has been an unprecedented challenge for everyone—supporters, players and coaches alike. Everyone has felt the widespread impacts of the pandemic and the strain it has put on everyday life.
While a memorable playoff run wouldn’t change any of that, Sporting nevertheless has the unique chance to bring joy to Kansas City during one of the most adverse times in modern history. The supporters and the city make this club special, and the window has opened for Sporting to give back in a major way.