Above the line! Sporting KC ride "mature performance" into playoff spot


It hasn't been an easy road, but following Saturday's 1-0 victory at Minnesota United FC, Sporting Kansas City are officially back in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs mix.

Gadi Kinda's 84th-minute winner moved the visitors above FC Dallas into the ninth-and-final postseason spot in the Western Conference (9W-12L-8D, 35 points), something that might have seemed improbable after Sporting KC's inauspicious start to the season, which saw them go winless through their first 10 matches.

Even if it hasn't always been pretty, manager and sporting director Peter Vermes credited his side's moxie for willing themselves back into contention.

"I feel like today was a very mature performance from our team," Vermes said. "As much as I think in this game you have to be organized, you have to be disciplined, you have to at times be able to put out fires – but you also have to have a little bit of luck.

"We found ways to keep trying to protect the goal. I think we made some good changes to the team that gave the team a little bit of a spark and they were hungry. ... I would say this is a mature performance by us, it's really nice to see with all the different ups and downs that we've had over the season, that at a time when we needed a mature performance, guys executed on it."

Sporting KC have won three of their last four matches, suffering the lone defeat at Inter Miami CF during the September international window. And with five matches left until Decision Day, Vermes knows full well every last point will be critical in order to keep their postseason aspirations alive.

"It's really the only thing we can do," Vermes said. "As everybody knows, and it's been well-documented, we didn't have a very good start to the season for whatever, so many reasons. But at the end, as I told the guys, we've just got to keep ourselves alive when we get to the Leagues Cup so that we can make a push at the end.

"Four games now, three wins and a loss and that loss was on the road. One of those wins was on the road, but that's pretty good. But we haven't really accomplished anything yet. We've got some more to get after here. We've got some other games, some important games, some big teams that we have to play and they're all going to be difficult. We've got to fight for it."

Coming off the two-game road swing, Sporting KC now have their next two matches at Children's Mercy Park as the dogfight continues, starting with a cross-conference matchup vs. Nashville SC on Wednesday evening (8:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).

"You could see tonight, everyone understands how important these games are and we need wins," goalkeeper Tim Melia said. "Doesn't make a difference if it's home or away, we need wins to get to the playoffs. And tonight we played like a team that is trying to do everything we can to get into the playoffs."