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Sporting KC Playoff Scenarios and Potential Opponents

The ways to get into the playoffs are pretty straightforward. Who Sporting KC may play is all over the place though.



Is the sun setting on Sporting KC's season? | Credit: Thad Bell

It all comes down to match day 34. Decision Day. Sporting Kansas City find themselves in 10th place, one spot out of the play-in game. Five teams in the Western Conference find themselves battling for the final three postseason positions. One will go straight into the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs, and the eighth and ninth place teams will play for the final spot and the right to play St. Louis City SC in the opening round.

Sporting KC’s Scenarios

It’s incredibly simple. Sporting KC have to win against Minnesota United. Then, one of FC Dallas, the Portland Timbers or the San Jose Earthquakes have to simply not win. A tie from them is fine. If SKC win and all three teams falter, Sporting KC can climb all the way to seventh place and avoid the play-in game and the short-rest that accompanies it.

The Games

All of the Western Conference games will be happening simultaneously, with 8:09 PM CST kick offs. Sporting Kansas City will play Minnesota United, who are in 11th and have the ability to jump into the playoffs as well, so they’ll have everything to play for.

Sporting KC will find themselves needing help on Decision Day. Even if they take care of business, only one of the teams they need to lose or draw are facing a team that is still alive. The other two, are playing teams have that are already eliminated from the playoffs.

  • Minnesota United at Sporting KC
  • Houston Dynamo at Portland Timbers
  • FC Dallas at LA Galaxy
  • Austin FC at San Jose Earthquakes

As you can see, only Dallas has to play on the road. The good news is they’ve only won three times on the road all season (3-7-6). That said, Sporting KC were in the exact situation last week against Real Salt Lake and they pulled it off (with a little red card help).

The Quakes and Timbers are at home. San Jose are 8-2-6 at home, while their opponent Austin are 3-9-4 on the road. The Timbers are even better at home, going 9-4-3, including four straight wins. The Timbers are playing the only team that’s actually in the playoffs in the Houston Dynamo. The good news is they are playing for playoff positioning and, with some help, can finish as high as second. The bad news is they are abysmal on the road. They are just 2-9-5 away from the sweaty confines of Shell Energy Stadium.

Potential Opponents

If Sporting KC manage to win and get a little help, they’ll find themselves either in the play-in game (far more likely) or all the way up to seventh place. If they finish in eighth or ninth, they can play any of the teams they are chasing in Dallas, San Jose or Portland.

If, on the other hand, they finish seventh, they’ll play the second seeded team. Right now, that’s LAFC, but the Seattle Sounders are just one point behind, and the aforementioned Houston Dynamo can technically sneak into that spot too. It’s far more likely to be LAFC or Seattle. LAFC play Vancouver who can climb as high as fourth from their current sixth spot. Seattle plays St. Louis, who have nothing to play for as they’ve locked up the number one seed.

Speaking of St. Louis, that’s the likely “prize” for the winner of the play-in game. If Sporting KC pull off this unlikely run, then win again on short-rest midweek, it would be an amazing story to see them beat their cross-state rivals and knock them from the playoffs. That would mean a triple game week though, and Sporting KC are abysmal on short rest.

No better time to buck that trend than now!

The KC Soccer Journal will have more on this weekend’s playoff games in the coming days. Until then, go listen to the latest Shades of Blue Soccer Show for an early weekend preview.

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