KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sporting Kansas City are arguably the envy of every other MLS team in the playoff chase.
They currently occupy the 10th and final wild card spot and beginning with Wednesday night’s game against Portland (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), they have 11 games to prove they belong in the race for MLS Cup. Eight of those 11 matches come at home, including two crucial tests this week against the Timbers and a D.C. United team making its own push up the table.
“We’re in a good position right now,” forward Kei Kamara said. “All we have to do is win some games [at Livestrong Sporting Park]. This is the advantage that we get. We need to win at least six of these eight games at home. If we can do that, we’ll be in a playoff position.”
After dropping what appeared to be three points against the Sounders a week-and-a-half ago, Sporting don’t need to be reminded of the significance of capitalizing on every chance they have to pick up results at home.
“We have to win almost every single one [of our home games],” said midfielder Roger Espinoza, who was suspended for the loss against Seattle. “We had the chance to beat the Sounders, and the red card was probably the reason why we lost. We have eight games to prove ourselves. We can’t lose any games at home, and we know that.”
In addition to holding court at home, the most important thing for Sporting (7-7-9, 30 points) will be to avoid defeats against fellow borderline playoff teams — four sides have either 30 or 31 points — while cleaning up against Eastern Conference opponents.
To make sure his team is best-equipped to handle the final stretch of matches, Peter Vermes has been in search of a center back to shore up a defense beset by injuries.
“There’s not a lot out there,” he said. “Whatever is [out there], team’s either don’t want to move that guy or if they do, they want something ridiculous.”
With the trade deadline and final day to sign unattached free agents in Sept. 15, there could still be a deal to be made for 21-year-old trialist Peterson Joseph, also known as "the Haitian Xavi," who was most recently in Portugal with Braga. He has been training with the team for the past few weeks and played against Newcastle on July 20.
All signs point to the team trying to come to an agreement with Joseph, but Vermes said things have moved slowly so far.
“I’ve thought it seemed likely for a while,” he said, “but obviously it’s not done yet.”