Sporting KC Clinch Playoffs With 2-0 Win Over San Jose

KANSAS CITY, KS - AUGUST 20: Mid-fielder Benny Feilhaber #10 of Sporting Kansas City score a goal on a penalty kick against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC during the second half on August 20, 2016 at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Sporting Kansas City won 2-0. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)

Kansas City, Kansas – Sporting KC are in the playoffs for the sixth straight season, and seventh time since Peter Vermes took over. A 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes solidified their spot in the 2016 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. With results around them going the wrong way, they end up in fifth, just a point out of a home playoff spot.

Sporting KC Clinch Playoffs With 2-0 Win over San Jose Earthquakes

The match got off to a quick start, with Sporting creating some chances and then San Jose countering furiously. Chris Wondolowski was denied by a crazy sliding block by Matt Besler and later by a sprawling save from Tim MeliaTommy Thompson ghosted in alone but couldn’t sort out his feet in time for Melia’s sliding save. Sporting quickly got into their rhythm and got San Jose pinned back and the pressure paid off. A Cordell Cato handball was called within the area, and Benny Feilhaber promptly stepped up and buried it into David Bingham’s left handed corner. That was the action for the first half with nothing else to really note.

In the second half, the game’s temperature began to rise a bit. Five yellow cards were shown in the second half. There was one obvious penalty shout dismissed incorrectly by Drew Fischer. In the 83rd minute, San Jose brought on Chad Barrett for Cordell Cato, effectively changing the formation to a 3-5-2 as they sought out a late goal. Sporting KC took advantage in the 88th minute. Feilhaber played in Graham Zusi, who blasted home first time to finish off the ‘Quakes.

Positives

The Backline.

Peter Vermes spoke glowingly about all the members of his backline in the post-game press conference. He was very happy with their defensive efforts and the scoreline certainly shows it. Vermes mentioned that the last time they played, they got destroyed down the left side. He said that Sinovic did a great job of shutting them down on the left flank. Saad Abdul-Salaam had another excellent game for them. Whether it was tracking back or ghosting in behind the back-line, he did it all. Besler and Ellis were strong, and overall they played fantastic defense. The second clean sheet in a row for this specific backline combination has their defense looking to be in fine form as they head towards the postseason.

Negatives

There was really nothing negative about this game on their end. However, it is disappointing that results didn’t go their way in terms of getting a home playoff game during the midweek. Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders FC would’ve had to tie for them to get all the way up to fourth, and Seattle’s 2-1 win cemented their spot in fourth. That sets up a matchup this week, in Seattle, for Sporting KC.

A Look Ahead

As was mentioned earlier, Sporting KC will travel to Seattle and take on the Seattle Sounders in a one game playoff. Last year, they lost to Portland Timbers in the “double post” penalty kick shootout. Roger Espinoza said post-match, “The road game last week in Salt Lake was a playoff type game, and today we had to win or go home, so it was a playoff game as well.” Sporting KC have felt the pressure in the last few matches and seem to be rounding into form just in time. Can they put together a run like 2013? That question will have to be answered in the next couple of weeks.

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