PAINT THE WALL: No. 3 Sporting KC hosts No. 6 Vancouver in first round of MLS Cup Playoffs

Sporting KC

Courtesy Sporting KC

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City begin their journey to hoist the MLS Cup on Saturday as they host the Vancouver Whitecaps at Children’s Mercy Park.

SKC earned the third seed in the Western Conference after battling with the No. 2 Seattle Sounders for the top spot all season. No. 1 Colorado Rapids swooped in on Decision Day to take the top seed.

Coming off three consecutive losses, Sporting looks to get back in top form against the Whitecaps, whom they split the season series with 1-1, with the home team winning each match.

The 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs will mirror the 2020 edition that was changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be a single-elimination tournament.

Last season, Sporting KC was eliminated from the playoffs by Minnesota United in a 3-0 home loss in the Western Conference semifinals.

The club has not been to the championship game since 2013 when they defeated Real Salt Lake in a 10-round penalty kick shootout after tying 1-1 in regulation.

Vancouver has not qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs since 2017 when they lost to the San Jose Earthquakes in the quarter finals.

The Whitecaps are led by 12 goals from Brian White and 10 from Cristian Dajome. The Whitecaps went 2-0-3 in their last five games of the season.

Both teams have finalists for MLS end-of-season awards in Vancouver’s Ryan Gauld (Newcomer of the Year finalist) and Sporting KC’s Daniel Salloi (Landon Donovan MVP and Comeback Player of the Year finalist).

Salloi had a career season leading the team with 16 goals and 8 assists. His play had him in the fight for the MLS Golden Boot up until being slowed by an ankle injury.

On the other wing, Sporting will have captain Johnny Russell who is second on the team with 15 goals.

On Friday, manager Peter Vermes said only Jaylin Lindsey will not be available for the match, signaling the return of Mexican international striker Alan Pulido.

The teams have never met in the playoffs but SKC leads the all-time series 11-4-4.

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