There for the taking: Sporting KC visit Austin FC with chance to secure No. 1 seed

Sports

AUSTIN, TX – JUNE 19: A tifo honoring Texas icons is raised before the start of the inaugural home game between the San Jose Earthquakes and Austin FC at Q2 Stadium on June 19, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City pays a visit to Austin FC on Wednesday night for its second-to-last game of the regular season and a big chance to get one step closer to the Western Conference top seed.

Sporting KC and the Seattle Sounders have been going back and forth as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the conference with the Colorado Rapids nipping at their heels in third place.

As it stands right now, Seattle sits one point ahead of Kansas City after a Monday night draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Rapids sit tied with Sporting on points, but Kansas City has a game in hand on both teams.

Now this midweek matchup gives Kansas City leverage ahead of Decision Day on Sunday.

In short, if Sporting KC wins both of its final two matchups, it will be the No. 1 seed.

A win and a draw would bring math and tiebreakers into the mix. With a loss, Sporting KC will need some help from other fixtures on Sunday.

MLS Standings Tiebreakers
Total number of wins
Goal Differential (GD) [Goals For – Goals Against]
Goals For (GF)
Fewest Disciplinary Points
Away Goals Differential
Away Goals For
Home Goals Differential
Home Goals For
If still two clubs tied – Coin Toss OR If still 3+ clubs tied – Drawing of Lots
*Total points determine seeding before tiebreakers take place

For the first time in club history, Sporting KC will visit Austin FC at Q2 Stadium, having played them two times this season at Children’s Mercy Park.

Kansas City defeated Austin in their first-ever matchup, which was also former Sporting KC captain and hometown hero Matt Besler’s return to face his former team. The two sides tied the second meeting in June.

Austin FC sits at the bottom of the Western Conference with only pride to play for as the club has been eliminated from playoff contention.

Of Austin’s eight wins in its inaugural season, six have come at home. Austin has scored a league-low 32 goals and lost three of their five games in October.

Sporting KC is coming off a disappointing road loss to Minnesota United on Halloween.

Despite scoring early behind Khiry Shelton’s third goal of the season, Kansas City gave up two goals, including a controversial penalty kick that proved to be the game-winner.

But the controversy didn’t stop there. In the second half, Sporting KC fullback Amadou Dia was subbed into the game and entered into a very poorly timed tackle on midfielder Emanuel Reynoso minutes before the end of the match.

The referee disciplined Dia with a yellow card despite calls from the Minnesota sideline to check with the video assistant referee (VAR).

For the second straight week, a Sporting KC player received a retroactive red card and a one-game suspension.

Sporting KC is also looking to get back to full health as they enter the playoffs. Alan Pulido is on the brink of returning from knee surgery, according to reports, and Dániel Sallói returned to the field on Sunday after nursing an ankle injury.

Sporting KC has already secured a top-3 seed, meaning a home playoff game is coming to Children’s Mercy Park, but a first-place finish will mean a first-round bye, giving the team even more time to heal up.

Austin FC and Sporting Kansas City kickoff at 8 p.m. on Bally Sports Kansas City.

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