A silver trophy emerged from the tunnel beneath the western stands inside Sporting Park on Wednesday, and the Sporting Kansas City ownership group paraded it around on the field as part of a pregame commemoration. For the first time since the club won the U.S. Open Cup last month, it was at its home field for an MLS match.
An opportunity to compete for the next trophy remains in limbo.
Colorado dealt Sporting KC an unlikely 2-0 defeat Wednesday, preventing Sporting KC from clinching a spot in the MLS playoffs.
“We knew what we had to do. We didn’t get it done,” defender Kevin Ellis said. “That’s disappointing to us. Every guy in here is going to take responsibility for that, myself included.”
A missed opportunity Wednesday — just the second home loss this season — puts Sporting KC on uneasy footing Sunday.
With the defending champions coming to town, no less.
After its failure to claim a victory against the last-place team in the Western Conference, Sporting KC will be in a battle for its playoff life Sunday, the final day of the regular season, when it faces the Los Angeles Galaxy at home.
“We have enough guys who have been around long enough, where we have to come out Sunday with more energy and more urgency. We can talk about it all we want, but at this time of year (that’s) all wasted energy,” captain Matt Besler said. “There’s one game left — it’s do or die.”
Tied for fifth place in the West, Sporting KC and Seattle are clinging to a one-point edge over seventh-place San Jose. The top six teams will make the postseason.
All three teams have one match remaining, and all will be played at 6 p.m. Sunday. Seattle will host Real Salt Lake, a team out of playoff contention. San Jose will travel to face FC Dallas, the leader of the Western Conference.
“It’s a final,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “… It’s that simple. There’s nothing else to read into it.”
Sporting KC needed only a draw in San Jose on Friday or a victory against Colorado on Wednesday to secure its spot for the fifth straight season. On Wednesday, Colorado midfielder Dillon Powers and reserve Marcelo Sarvas played the spoiler roles, each of them providing second-half goals on odd-man counters.
Powers struck first in the 78th minute, lofting a shot over Sporting KC keeper Tim Melia. After Colorado captain Sam Cronin was ejected in the 84th minute for his second yellow card, Sarvas also found himself alone with Melia and blasted a deflected shot into the side netting.
Sporting KC, 13-11-9, had its chances.
It argued for a penalty kick in the 55th minute, when Zusi fired a ball into the box that deflected off the arm of Colorado Rapids defender Axel Sjoberg, but the referee motioned for play to continue without a call.
Again, Zusi supplied a prime chance in the 71st minute, when he clicked a line drive off the crossbar. Over the ensuing three minutes, Soni Mustivar and Krisztian Nemeth only narrowly missed breaking the scoreless tie.
But while Sporting KC applied a full-court press after halftime, its first half was rather lifeless. Again. Sporting KC was shut out over the opening 45 minutes for the ninth straight MLS match, and it didn’t fashion many reliable scoring chances — despite owning 62.9 percent of the possession.
Playing in a nothing-to-lose manner, Colorado was aggressive moving forward with its offensive possessions, but the Rapids were content to allow Sporting Kansas City’s pinball passes along its back line. As a result, Sporting KC struggled to press the ball deep into the Colorado defense and instead settled for only one first-half shot on target.
“I don’t think that we drove the game from the beginning,” Vermes said. “I think we found some situations in and around their box, but I don’t think that we played a real uptempo like I expected us to. I’m not exactly sure why. But that’s got to be a different case on Sunday.”
The urgency picked up after halftime.
Too little, too late.
An even more urgent match awaits Sunday.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY 0
COLORADO: Zac MacMath, Axel Sjoberg, Maynor Figueroa, Sean St Ledger, Marlon Hairston, Sam Cronin, Dillon Powers (Marcelo Sarvas, 83rd), Lucas Pittinari, Luis Solignac (Nick LaBrocca, 87th), Kevin Doyle, Dominique Badji (Juan Ramirez, 74th).
KANSAS CITY: Tim Melia, Chance Myers, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Kevin Ellis, Matt Besler, Soni Mustivar (Jordi Quintilla, 82nd), Benny Feilhaber, Paulo Nagamura, Graham Zusi, Dom Dwyer, Krisztian Nemeth.
Kansas City: None. San Jose: 1, Powers 3 (Ramirez, Doyle), 78th minute. 2, Sarvas 2 (Ramirez), 86th.
Shots on goal
Colorado: Cronin, 42nd; Ramirez, 80th.
Kansas City: Ellis, 89th.
Colorado: Cronin, 84th.
Kansas City: None.
Referee: Juan Guzman.
Assistant referee: Jonathan Johnson.
Assistant referee: Richard Gamache.
4th official: Ismail Elfath.
Announced attendance: 18,897.