Peter Vermes - laughs with Graham Zusi
USA Today Sports

Sporting KC: Hunt for West pole position "all comes down to the last game"

FRISCO, Texas — Sporting Kansas City now control their own destiny heading into Decision Day presented by AT&T.

Wins at Vancouver and Dallas have catapulted SKC to the top of the Western Conference standings, with a home game against second-place LAFC to close out the regular season. 

"It's amazing how close it all is," Sporting head coach Peter Vermes told MLSsoccer.com's Jillian Sakovits after Sunday’s 3-0 win over FC Dallas. "It all comes down to the last game, but obviously we did ourselves a favor in the last two games, getting two wins, both on the road. Now we get to go back home, so hopefully we can put another performance together and put ourselves in a really good position going into the playoffs."

The win over FCD means that Sporting can clinch top spot and a first-round bye with a tie or win against LAFC, whose own 2-2 draw with the Whitecaps left Bob Bradley's side a point behind Kansas City. Dallas can still reach 60 points with a road win over the Colorado Rapids, but they would fall behind SKC on the second tiebreaker of goal difference, barring an unlikely 15-goal swing.

Sporting were the first team to come away from Banc of California Stadium with a win back in August, as goals from Gerso Fernandes and Ilie Sanchez sent Peter Vermes' side home with three points. KC aren't ready to take anything for granted, though.

"Nothing's been set, right? They're a tough team, a good team," said Vermes of LAFC. "We were fortunate enough to go out there and catch them at maybe a time where they weren't ready for us. We know it's going to be a big game at our place. They've got some incredible weapons. Nothing has been decided yet, but the great thing is we put ourselves in that position to be able to at least go after it."

Going into the game vs. FCD, the talk from both sides was that this was to be treated as a playoff game, even a dress rehearsal for a potential Western Conference Championship clash. How do you prepare for a Decision Day showdown, and consecutive games between first and second place, with the possibility that the next time the two sides meet could have a place in MLS Cup at stake?

"We go home, have a day off, and get back to it," said SKC captain Matt Besler. "We still have one more game. They're all big games and we've just got to keep moving forward."