Well, it's apparent that nobody will be doing Sporting Kansas City any favors in the Eastern Conference right now.
The Kansas City Star
Yesterday, Chicago fought its way back into second place (and keeps the pressure on KC) with a 2-0 win over New York while D.C. United moved up into third place with a late 1-0 win over Toronto.
Some people might make an argument about this trip to Columbus being a "must win" for Kansas City. Obviously, for most fans, every match is a "must win." The truth: A win would be great, but a loss for KC isn't really the end of the world. A "must win" connotes that disaster is a potential result. That's not the case today.
Perspective: KC cannot finish below fourth in the East and simply earning a point over the last three games would ensure they can't finish below third. That's substantially better than just a few years ago when squeaking into the playoffs was the goal.
As of this writing, 10 points separates the top six teams in the East (1. KC: 58, 6. Columbus: 48) and the top seed is still not locked up for Sporting Kansas City. The scenarios are myriad right now -- and we'll get into them further early next week. But for now, you need to know this: Kansas City's magic number is 5 points. Earn just five points over the next three games and KC will clinch first place in the East.
Also, when it comes to the Supporters' Shield, San Jose didn't do KC any favors either. Thanks to a 4-1 win over Colorado, Sporting is now six points off the Quakes lead with a game in hand.
• Kickoff is at the very odd-feeling 3 p.m. from Crew Stadium in Columbus. The match will be on KSMO-TV with Callum Williams and Jake Yadrich on the call.
• Kansas City carries a 9-match unbeaten streak into the match.
• Columbus are on the outside of the playoff situation looking in, just two points behind the Houston Dynamo for the last playoff spot.
• The Crew are an erratic 2-0-3 over the last five matches.
• The two teams have split their matches this season, with KC winning 2-0 in Columbus and the Crew winning 2-1 in Kansas City.
• Number to remember: 12. That's how many goals the Crew have allowed in the last 15 minutes of games this season.
• Tonight's referee is the experienced Mark Geiger.
• Midfielders Julio Cesar and Paulo Nagamura are one yellow card away from an automatic suspension.
• This is perhaps the best the injury report has looked for Kansas City in months: Only Teal Bunbury (ACL tear) and Cyprian Hedrick (fibula fracture) are out.
• Jacob Peterson will return from a red-card suspension and there are rumors that Bobby Convey might feature in the 18-man gameday roster.
• Columbus will be without Tommy Heinemann (knee surgery), William Hesmer (hip surgery), Bernando Anor (ACL tear); Danny O'Rourke (ankle sprain), Carlos Mendes (hamstring strain) and Rich Balchan (thigh contusion) are listed as questionable.
• After today's slate of MLS matches, the league will take next weekend off for an international break.
I'm going to roll the dice and guess that Peter Vermes keeps going with what worked and ride the same lineup. (I only have three years of empirical evidence to back this up.) The only complication I can see? Does Aurelien Collin get back into the Starting XI? I say Vermes keeps with the Lawrence Olum-Matt Besler combo for at least one more game. It's worked so far against Montreal and Chicago.
GK: Jimmy Nielsen-c; DEF: Chance Myers, Lawrence Olum, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic; MID: Julio Cesar, Paulo Nagamura, Roger Espinoza; FWD: Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong, Kei Kamara.
BENCH: Eric Kronberg; Aurelien Collin, Michael Harrington; Oriol Rosell; Jacob Peterson, Bobby Convey, Dom Dwyer.
Kansas City 1, Columbus 1. I think this is gonna be a tough match for Kansas City going up against a team with a lot to lose. Kamara and Jairo Arrieta with the goals.
MatchDay Hype Song
Baroness "March to the Sea"
I cannot get this song out of my head. In fact, I cannot get this entire double album off my Spotify right now. It's got everything I love in a song: Heaviness, super-duper drum fills, complicated guitar riffs, quiet LOUD quiet LOUD LOUD LOUD, an anthemic chorus and lyrics about the ocean.