Just how busy was Sporting Kansas City last week? Less than 24 hours after hoisting the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the team had a 30-minute window to celebrate with a few hundred fans and family at Sporting Park before hopping on a third flight in three days.
This time, the trip was to Cascadia country where a reserve-heavy side held up long enough for Krisztian Nemeth to enter the game and stun the Rose City, capping off a successful week that included four points in league play and the first major trophy of the season.
Now? Time to breathe.
Sporting KC enjoyed a bye week for the first time in what seems like all season, as they prepare for the final three games of the regular season before jumping into postseason play.
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Here are some intriguing bye week tidbits:
Six points separate Sporting KC from a guaranteed postseason berth. Currently in fourth place in the MLS Western Conference, Sporting KC needs just two victories from matches against San Jose, Colorado and L.A. to guarantee a spot in the postseason. Facing Dominic Kinnear and the Earthquakes won’t be easy, though. They are on the cusp of reaching the playoffs with a coach who has a proven formula to counter Sporting KC’s 4-3-3.
However, Sporting KC is a near lock to finish above the playoff red line considering they entered the bye week with a 99.2 percent chance to make the postseason, according to ESPN’s Soccer Power Index. Even before the three-game stretch last week, Sporting KC had an 87 percent chance to extend their season.
The Supporters Shield is unlikely but not impossible. Soccer Power Index gave Sporting KC a 2 percent chance to grab the second major trophy of the season at the beginning of the week. That figure will rise or fall depending on this weekend’s results given Sporting KC’s idle status. And while those odds aren’t good at all, it does say something that Peter Vermes’ side is still in the conversation this late, especially after a poor month of August.
Vermes lauded the contribution of everyone on his team last week and for good reason. Twelve players played 150 minutes or more, and 18 100 minutes or more, including Jordi Quintilla and Bernardo Anor. While the performances weren’t always extraordinary, Sporting KC’s depth has been tested in some critical situations, and for the most part they’ve answered the call. That may prove fruitful come playoff time.
Tim Melia was named MLS Player of the Week after another shutout against Portland. What else can you say? He’s been phenomenal. In truth, I’m running out of things to say about the guy. It’s been a pleasure to watch him in goal this season.
The bye week celebrations didn’t end with the U.S. Open Cup. Dom and Sydney Leroux Dwyer, who tied the knot in January, held a formal ceremony during the week. The guest list included some pretty big names in both men’s and women’s soccer.
All signs point to Matt Besler starting against Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup Saturday night. With a Confederations Cup berth on the line, this is Besler’s biggest international match since the 2014 World Cup.