KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City are on pace to have the worst goal-differential in club history.

The struggling two-time MLS champions are coming off a 3-0 loss to rivals Real Salt Lake, ending a three-game nine-day road trip.

With 12 games left in the regular season, Sporting are looking up at a gap between their position, last, and a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Sporting currently sit 7 points behind the 7-seed, but face a brutal schedule to end the season, though eight of those final matches will be played at Children’s Mercy Park.

SKC has struggled on both ends of the field, failing to find the back of the net on a regular basis, and failing to hold opposing forwards from finding goals.

With a league worst 19 goals scored and top-5-worst 38 goals allowed, the club owns a -19 goal-differential, one away from the club’s worst of -20 it finished with in 1999 and 2001.

Sporting KC are scoring an average of .95 goals per game and allowing 1.9. Using those numbers, SKC is on pace to finish with 30 goals on the season and 61 allowed for a differential of -31, by far their worst.

It would also be the lowest amount of goals scored in a season, with 33 in 2009 being the current record low. Even in the shortened season of 2020, Sporting found the back of the net 38 times.

Of Sporting’s final 12 opponents, seven are in playoff position and three are within striking distance.

July 23 vs LAFC (1)September 4 at LA Galaxy (7)
July 30 vs Austin FC (2)September 10 at Houston Dynamo (11*)
August 6 vs LA Galaxy (7)September 13 vs DC United
August 13 at Austin FC (2)September 17 vs Minnesota United (4)
August 21 vs Portland (8*)October 2 vs Seattle Sounders (9*)
August 27 vs San JoseOctober 9 at FC Dallas (6)
*only first 7 seeds advance to the playoffs

Sprinkled into the mix on July 27 is Sporting’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal matchup with Sacramento Republic FC. A win in that game would require the championship game to be played sometime in September.

A lot of SKC’s struggles can be attributed to losing two designated players, Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda, to season-ending knee surgery before the season even started. Coupled with lingering injuries that have caused a lack of depth, Sporting had an up-hill battle from the start.

If the club has hopes of turning it around and ending the season on a high note, it starts on Saturday when they host LAFC to start a three-game home stand.

LAFC will pay a visit to Children’s Mercy Park fresh off the debuts of their latest acquisitions Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini.

Sporting KC will hope to have their midseason newcomers, William Agada and Erik Thommy available for the matchup with the No. 1 seed. Agada was available as a substitute against Real Salt Lake.

SKC and LAFC kickoff on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.