KANSAS CITY, Kan. — After a controversial last few games of the regular season, Sporting KC will be facing Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday for the 1st round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
This is the teams’ first matchup against each other in the playoffs but they have already faced each other twice in 2021.
Sporting got the beat the Whitecaps 3-0 on May 16 at Children’s Mercy Park with a goal from
Dániel Sallói and a brace from Alan Pulido.
Vancouver would take the second meeting 2-1 on Oct. 17 at BC Place in Vancouver.
Here are some things to watch for in their third and final matchup.
Whitecaps on the Road
SKC is has performed well at home all season with a 9-3-5 record. Vancouver has struggled on the road, winning only two of 17 away games.
With SKC fans rocking in a playoff atmosphere, that can be sure to rattle any team early but it’ll be up to the players to make sure they use that home field advantage.
SKC’s offense has come alive this season.
Landon Donovan MLS MVP candidate Dániel Sallói (16 goals) and Sporting’s Offensive Player of the Year Johnny Russell (15 goals) has led a Sporting offense that is second in the MLS with 58 goals.
Sporting also placed second in MLS in possession at 55.2% while Vancouver placed near the bottom at 46.1%.
With center back Andreu Fontàs leading the MLS in goals added and outside backs Luis Martins and Graham Zusi adding to the attack combining for nine assists, Sporting’s offense could be lethal in the playoffs.
Vancouver coming in hot
After finding themselves near last place in August, the Whitecaps made the decision to part ways with head coach Marc Dos Santos.
Vanni Sartini took over and helped right the ship.
Vancouver has only lost two matches since July and closed out the year with six straight results, one of which a 2-1 victory over Sporting KC.
With a 1-1 draw against Seattle Sounders FC on Decision Day, Vancouver punched their ticket to the playoffs.
Even with a hot offense, Sporting is 6-6 since September, dropping their last three matches.
SKC will look to get back to their winning ways and advance to the second round of the MLS Cup Playoffs where they would face the winner of Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake.