Sporting Kansas City reignited their hopes of an Audi MLS Cup Playoffs place with a 1-0 win away at Minnesota United at the weekend, taking them back to within a point of the first-round spots in the West.
Nashville FC's draw with Charlotte FC meant they dropped a bit closer to that play-in zone in the East, with CF Montréal just a few points behind them.
This midweek game has real jeopardy attached to it in both conferences.
Jack Collins here from The Game Day to look at a matchup between two sides still harboring ambitions of a postseason run on Matchday 33 in Major League Soccer, happening on Wednesday, Sept. 20.
Sporting Kansas City vs. Nashville SC Odds
Sporting Kansas City vs. Nashville SC betting lines are current as of Monday, Sept. 18, at 10 a.m. ET at bet365 Sportsbook.
- 3-Way Moneyline: Sporting Kansas City (-118) • Tie (+275) • Nashville SC (+260)
- Total Goals: Over 2.5 (-150) • Under 2.5 (+115)
- Both Teams To Score: Yes (-163) • No (+120)
Sporting Kansas City vs. Nashville SC Match Prediction
Sporting Kansas City 2:0 Nashville SC
When Sporting Kansas City lost to a Leo Messi-less Inter Miami just two Matchdays ago, many people thought it was the end of their hopes for a postseason run.
However, a big 1-0 win away at Minnesota United, whom the club is looking to chase down in the West, followed by two home games in a row, has changed the picture somewhat in Sporting KC.
Suddenly, they’re just a point behind Portland Timbers and two behind Minnesota United, with just five matchdays remaining in the regular season. If Sporting Kansas City can stay within touching distance of MNUFC, a final-day clash between the two at home could be seismic.
To do that, though, they need to maintain a run of form on this closing straight, and with three of their final five games at home, they’ll be hoping that a positive record at Children’s Mercy Park will be the key to booking their spot.
Sporting KC is unbeaten on home soil in MLS since July, picking up three wins and a draw in their last four games.
In truth, it’s a remarkable turnaround from a side that went winless in their first 10 games of this MLS season and scored just three goals from February through April, with manager Peter Vermes praising his side's maturity after their win in Saint Paul.
“I would say this is a mature performance by us. It's nice to see, with all the different ups and downs we've had over the season, that when we needed a mature performance, the guys executed on it," Vermes said after the final whistle.
Key to Sporting KC's resurgence has been the form of attacking trio Alan Pulido, Erik Thommy, and Dániel Sallói.
Pulido, the veteran No. 9, has scored twelve times in his last thirteen appearances in MLS.
Sallói has a combined five goals and assists in his last six, and Thommy has scored or assisted at a rate of one in every two games since Sporting Kansas City started to right the ship at the beginning of May.
Now they face a Nashville side who aren’t sure of their playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. And having picked up just two points in their last six MLS games, Nashville SC feels like a team on the slide.
Two draws, away to Inter Miami and at home to Charlotte FC, have stopped the rot that saw the Coyotes lose four games on the spin in the league.
However, having slipped to 7th in the East and sitting in the final spot for automatic qualification for the playoffs, they will anxiously keep an eye on the fortunes of CF Montréal, who sit just one place below them.
The problem remains that the goals have dried up, with Hany Mukhtar’s penalty against Charlotte FC being the only goal the club has scored since returning from the Leagues Cup break.
The German remains an awe-inspiring and consistent performer in MLS. Still, his lead in the Golden Boot race has been cut hugely, with LAFC’s Dénis Bouanga and Atlanta United’s Giorgos Giakoumakis matching him on 14 goals for the season.
While Mukhtar remains a genius on the pitch, he’s not getting any help right now, and Nashville’s struggles on the road are well-documented - they’ve won just three times in 14 away games this season. Expect those road woes to continue against Sporting KC.
Sporting Kansas City vs Nashville SC Best Bets
Under 2.5 Goals (+115) • bet365 Sportsbook
While Nashville have been far from their best of late, they have tightened things up at the back in their last two outings. Sporting KC's 1-0 win at Minnesota was impressive, but hardly a festival of scoring chances, so backing the under feels like a good bet here.
Alan Pulido Anytime Goalscorer (+110) • bet365 Sportsbook
The veteran has been the man who has stepped up time and time again for Sporting Kansas City as they fought their way back into contention.
Pulido scored both goals in the win over St. Louis CITY SC the last time Sporting KC played at Children’s Mercy Park. They smell the playoffs, and Pulido is leading the charge.