KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It's a small club, with a membership roll based on longevity, performance, club success and the requisite bit of good fortune – and Sporting Kansas City players make up half of it.
It's not a big deal to them, though – not as big as their drive to contend for their second MLS Cup title in three years, after waiting until the last match of the regular season to clinch a postseason spot.
Going into the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs that begin on Wednesday, only six players in the league will be going into their fifth straight postseason with the same club – after playing in each of their respective teams' playoff matches from 2011-14.
Three of them play for Sporting: center back Matt Besler, winger Graham Zusi and left back Seth Sinovic, who has been nursing a hamstring strain but is expected to be available for Thursday's Knockout Round match at Portland (10 pm ET, UniMás).
“Obviously, that's a testament to the guys that we have here,” Sinovic said last week, even before Sporting locked up the sixth playoff spot in the Western Conference with Sunday's 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy . “The ownership, the stadium, the fans have been a huge part of the success that we've had here. A successful team is what gets you into the playoffs and creates those opportunities.”
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“It's nice to be mentioned in that group of players and be involved in that statistic,” Besler said after Tuesday's training session. “But it doesn't really mean a whole lot, looking back right now. We're always looking forward, and we want to continue to be in that club. We're always hungry for more. What we've accomplished in the past is in the past, and there's still a lot more to be had.”
Zusi responded with a bemused laugh when asked about the achievement.
“Stats are incredible. They keep them for everything,” he said on Tuesday. “I think it's a strange stat to keep. I guess the only thing it says is the consistency of clubs getting to the postseason. I don't know that it says that much about us.”
It's not just getting to the playoffs, though. It's also playing in every postseason match over that span.
“I think it's a bit of luck,” Zusi said. “It's not getting injured. When it comes to playoff time, games that you might sit out for a little injury, you don't. It's playoff time, and you see that in every sport – guys pushing through little things. Ultimately, you want to be on the field. It's as simple as that.
“I'm not a guy who looks into these kind of things too much. I try to go out there and take care of business every chance I get.”
Manager Peter Vermes told reporters on Tuesday that the statistic points up Sporting's commitment to retaining a core of key players from season to season.
“They're guys that have been around, guys who have been through it, and they get it,” Vermes said. “And they're still with the club, so obviously that experience is important.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.