KC healthy, looking to start playoff run against Whitecaps
Sporting Kansas City aren’t used to sitting this far down the Western Conference standings this far into the season. They will try to avoid slipping even lower when they visit a Vancouver Whitecaps side desperate to stay in the playoff conversation.
Sporting KC (5-7-7, 22 points) has reached the MLS postseason eight consecutive times, but enter the weekend five points beneath the playoff line in the Western Conference.
Injuries have forced coach and general manager Peter Vermes to shuffle, with 16 different players recording at least five starts this season. Core starters Graham Zusi, Johnny Russell, Gerso Fernandes and Roger Espinoza have all missed large chunks of time.
However, they enter the weekend as healthy as they have been all season. And although Vermes has not ruled out a player move or two during the secondary transfer window, he says the group he currently has already feels like a replenished team.
“We have everybody in training now but two guys, which is a big step forward from where we’ve been through the season thus far, and so that’s one piece,” Vermes said. “We don’t want to do any short-term moves that kind of hold us back from doing some things in the long term as well.”
Meanwhile, Vancouver (4-8-8, 20 points) began the season without particularly high aspirations after turning over more than half their roster under first-year coach Marc Dos Santos. That appeared to change at one point this spring, when the Caps won four out of nine — while losing only twice — to climb up the West standings.
But they’re winless in their last five MLS matches since (0-2-3), and six matches overall if you include their scoreless draw in the first leg of their Canadian Championship series against the lower division Calgary Cavalry on Wednesday.
Still, Vancouver has picked up five points from their last three home matches, and can move back above SKC with a fourth MLS win of the season at BC Place.
“Everybody knows how difficult it is to travel in MLS, how difficult it is to get points away from home. So that’s why it becomes so important the home games that you have,” Dos Santos said. “We are very aware of that. We look at the standings, and we know by winning we can jump in front of them. And that’s something important for us.”
REUTERS/Field Level Media