Fight for First: Sporting KC host LA Galaxy with Western Conference top seed in play

Sporting KC

Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gadi Kinda edges around Seattle Sounders midfielder Joao Paulo during the first half of an MLS soccer match, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Kansas City, Kan. (AP Photo/Nick Tre. Smith)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Heading into the weekend’s matchup with the Seattle Sounders, the stars needed to align for Sporting Kansas City to be crowned as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Fast-forward to midweek, and it seems the stars are starting to fall into place.

Second-place Sporting KC hosts the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday with two games in hand on the first-place Seattle Sounders and only three points behind.

Seattle dropped a game to LAFC Tuesday night, giving Sporting the perfect opportunity to tie the Sounders on points with a win and still have a game in hand.

It won’t be easy. Los Angeles is fighting for seeding in the MLS Cup Playoffs with just four games remaining in the regular season.

A victory over the Galaxy would secure a top-4 seed and ensure that Sporting’s first opponent in the postseason would have to travel to Children’s Mercy Park.

The Galaxy currently sit in fifth place in the conference, tied on points with the fourth-place Portland Timbers, but can lose on the first tiebreaker.

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 determines seeding before tiebreakers take place

Javier “Chicharito” Hernández leads his team with 14 goals on the season while Hungarian homegrown winger Dániel Sallói leads Sporting KC with 16.

His 16 goals have him tied for second in the Golden Boot race and his eight assists put his Goals plus Assists total at 24, which is tied for first with New England Revolution’s Gustavo Bou.

Sallói did not play Saturday against the Sounders as he recovers from an ankle injury. He is listed as questionable to play as well as midfielder Jose Mauri.

Jaylin Lindsey and Alan Pulido will not be available to play.

Wednesday’s matchup will be the second time the two sides meet this season. Kansas City traveled to Los Angeles on the Fourth of July and took all three points with 2-0 victory with goals from Johnny Russell and Khiry Shelton.

Russell is in red hot form having scored in seven straight games, passing Kansas City Wizards legend Preki for the longest streak in franchise history.

Sporting KC sit in the top-10 for goals allowed this season in large part because of veteran goalkeeper Tim Melia.

Melia was handed a one-match suspension after taking Sounders forward Cristian Roldan to the ground by the shoulders in Saturday’s match.

The referee handed Melia a yellow card but the MLS Disciplinary Committee unanimously voted that it should have been a red card and implemented the suspension.

Goalkeeper John Pulskamp will be the likely replacement for Sporting KC in goal, having played in 7 games already this season.

The matchup will be the second-to-last home match of the season for Sporting KC as they prepare for a deep playoff run to avenge their conference semifinal loss last season.

The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. from Children’s Mercy Park and on FS1.

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