Win and in: Sporting KC can clinch playoff spot, inch toward first place with win over Seattle

Sporting KC

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – NOVEMBER 29: Daniel Salloi #20 of Sporting Kansas City celebrates after scoring during the first half of leg 2 of the Conference Championship against the Portland Timbers at Children’s Mercy Park on November 29, 2018 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Seattle Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz points to the crowd after scoring a goal on a penalty kick against the San Jose Earthquakes during the first half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, in San Jose, Calif.(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

SEATTLE — Sporting Kansas City has been toward the top of the Western Conference for virtually the entirety of the season, but Saturday, they face one of their biggest competitors for the coveted first-round bye; the Seattle Sounders.

The two have split the season series up to this point, with the road team winning each time.

Sporting Kansas City looks to punch their ticket to the MLS Cup Playoffs with a victory or draw over the Sounders, but a win would bring them within 3 points of Seattle with a game in hand.

A win also keeps them ahead of third place Colorado Rapids who sit tied on points but lose out on tie breakers.

A loss would delay their ticket to the playoffs and make the climb to win the conference nearly out of reach.

To add to the drama of the No. 1 vs No. 2 showdown is the matchup of Golden Boot and MVP candidates in SKC’s Dániel Sallói and Seattle’s Raúl Ruidíaz who sit tied for second with 16 goals a piece this season.

Ruidíaz has been nursing an injury but is expected to rejoin the team ahead of the matchup.

The two MVP candidates have contributed to some of the most prolific goal-scoring offenses in the league.

Sporting captain Johnny Russell etched his name in the history books with his red hot form in Kansas City’s loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

He surpassed legend Preki for the most consecutive games with a goal; 6.

The Sounders already clinched their playoff spot as they look to avenge their 2020 MLS Cup Final loss to the Columbus Crew.

Kansas City looks to return to the championship game for the first time since 2013 when they defeated Real Salt Lake in an epic 10-round penalty shootout at Children’s Mercy Park.

SKC lost in the Western Conference Semifinal matchup with Minnesota United.

With 5 games left in the regular season for Sporting, they look to get back to full health in time for the postseason and a first round bye would help the likes of Mexican international strike Alan Pulido who is coming off minimal knee surgery.

Pulido missed the entirety of the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2020 and SKC will look to have him on the field this time around to provide the spark up top.

Four of Sporting’s final five opponents are in the hunt for playoff spots making every game of their final stretch of their season as important as the next.

The Sounders lead the all-time series between the two squads 10-8-4.

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