The regular season has officially wrapped up, but the journey is truly just beginning for the 18 teams that have qualified for this year’s Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
Unfortunately, for one team per conference, that playoff adventure will also be over after just one game, so everything’s on the line in this Wild Card matchup between Sporting Kansas City and the San Jose Earthquakes.
Kansas City will be the hosts, as the two teams tied on the table regarding points, but Sporting held the tiebreaker with more wins.
This is Will Schwartz from The Game Day, here to break down this thrilling matchup between two sides that just about snuck into the postseason picture and will both be hungry to prove that they belong.
They’ll both have the chance to do just that, starting with this Wild Card match on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 9:30 pm ET.
Sporting Kansas City vs San Jose Earthquakes Odds
MLS lines used for San Jose @ Kansas City were current as of Oct. 23 at 12:30 a.m. EST on FanDuel Sportsbook.
- 3-Way Moneyline: Kansas City (-150) • San Jose (+350)
- Total Goals: Over 2.5 (-170) • Under 2.5 (+140)
- Both Teams to Score: Yes (-174) • No (+136)
It’s important to note that in the playoffs, these moneylines refer to the result after 90 minutes of regular time plus stoppage time. If the game is still tied at that point, there will be a shootout, but that will not affect these lines.
That being said, the books expect Kansas City to survive and advance at home and are definitively in favor of a relatively higher-scoring game.
Sporting Kansas City vs San Jose Earthquakes Prediction
Sporting Kansas City 3-1 San Jose Earthquakes
These two teams are coming into this winner-take-all Wild Card match in a very different form. The Earthquakes have remarkably drawn four consecutive MLS by the same exact score of 1-1 in each instance.
Kansas City is roaring into the postseason, with wins in three of their last four games, including both of their final two this regular season.
The regular season finale for KC was against Minnesota United, another fringe Wild Card squad, and the match had a playoff-like feel. Kansas City passed with flying colors, winning 3-1 to secure their postseason spot.
While we’re looking at some recent history, let’s dig into the regular season series between the two clubs. These teams split their two matches, with both games following a similar script: a 3-0 win for the home team.
In fact, both of these teams were significantly better at home this year while struggling on the road, which is a positive for Kansas City, who will be hosting this one.
This is an interesting stylistic clash, as Sporting had a solid attack with 48 goals scored in league play, compared to a dismal 39 for San Jose. However, the script was flipped at the other end of the pitch as the Quakes allowed just 43 goals, while KC let in 51.
Kansas City also has a slightly more egalitarian attack, which isn’t too surprising from the more efficient team at that end of the pitch.
Veteran Mexican striker Alan Pulido leads the team with 14 goals, while the most assists have come from Germany’s Erik Thommy and Hungarian International Dániel Sallói, with 11 and 10 apiece.
Meanwhile, Argentine winger Cristian Espinoza is the true centerpiece for San Jose; he’s ripped in 13 league goals and 15 assists, both team-highs. After Espinoza, Jeremy Ebobisse has 10 goals.
Still, following him, there’s a major drop-off to three goals for the next-most prolific scorer, and the second-best assists total behind Espinoza is five for Jackson Yueill and Jamiro Montero.
Yueill has contributed well up and down the pitch as a midfielder and has been one of defensive-minded San Jose’s best players behind Espinoza, as has center-back Rodrigues, who has played every game in league play for San Jose and leads all non-Espinoza Earthquakes players with a FotMob rating of 7.43.
Each of these squads has twice lifted the MLS Cup, although it’s been a good bit of time since the last win for each; Kansas City picked up theirs in 2013, while San Jose’s was the second installment in a mini-dynasty where they won the trophy in 2001 and ‘03.
The Earthquakes haven’t touched silverware since the 2012 Supporters’ Shield, and this is their first postseason appearance in a full, non-COVID season since 2017 after finishing as one of the worst teams in the league last year.
Kansas City were similarly abysmal last season, in a disappointing twist after strong campaigns in 2020 and ‘21. That being said, just like San Jose, this is an excellent chance for them to bounce back and re-establish themselves as a contender.
At home, they should do just that; they’ve been scoring and competing with playoff-caliber squads for much of their strong final push.
They’ll earn a chance to take down first-place St. Louis with a home win over a tepid San Jose side, which has been in the unenviable limbo of failing to keep clean sheets while also fielding a lackluster attack.
Sporting Kansas City vs San Jose Earthquakes Best Bets
Both Teams to Score: Yes (-174) • FanDuel Sportsbook
This is a pretty stellar value, considering it’s been over a month since either side was held scoreless in a match and just as long since either has kept a clean sheet.
Kansas City’s well-rounded attack will almost surely be able to score at least once at home, while their porous defense will allow plenty of opportunities for the Earthquakes.
The Quakes will likely need some individual brilliance from Espinoza, but as solid as he’s been, they’re likely to get it. Obviously, their defensive track record is solid, but they’ve faltered of late and should struggle on the road.
Sporting Kansas City Moneyline (-150) • FanDuel Sportsbook
This is a tight contest, as the two teams did tie in the regular season table, but the home-field advantage should be essential for Sporting.
This is especially true on what is looking to be a cold and rainy Missouri weekend, quite different from the Bay Area weather to which the Earthquakes are accustomed.
Sporting also employs an incredibly hot scorer, which is never bad in a knockout tournament. Johnny Russell, one of the squad’s longest-tenured players, has played a massive role in the team’s postseason qualification.
The Scottish winger has scored four goals in his past three matches, including an enormous brace in that pivotal regular-season finale.
When his goalscorer prop comes out, be on the lookout for those odds, but in the meantime, believe in his ability to help his team secure a tremendous win.