Sporting Kansas City clinched an Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs spot and moved back atop the Western Conference standings thanks to a 1-0 win Wednesday night over FC Cincinnati. The loss marked the hosts' final MLS game at Nippert Stadium before they open West End Stadium, their new soccer-centric venue, during the 2021 season.
Roger Espinoza gave Sporting a 1-0 lead in the 57th minute, capping off a move that Alan Pulido engineered. Making a run into the 18-yard box, the Mexican No. 9 picked out the veteran midfielder for a one-time finish.
FC Cincinnati had a golden opportunity for an equalizer in the 63rd minute, but Siem de Jong’s penalty kick struck the post, only for the Dutchman to then corral the rebound. The infraction resulted in a Sporting free kick, ending a sequence that initially saw Frankie Amaya fouled by Roberto Puncec, prompting a lengthy Video Review that maintained the on-field call.
FC Cincinnati also had a brilliant chance in the 88th minute via Brandon Vazquez, whose chip was tipped off the post and out of play by Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia after the striker's pirouette turn. They also came close in first-half stoppage time when Jurgen Locadia’s near-range effort was thwarted by Melia, who recorded his club-record 509th save in the process.
- 57' – SKC – Roger Espinoza | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: Sporting are the second Western Conference team to clinch a playoff spot after the Seattle Sounders accomplished the same feat on Tuesday. After missing the playoffs in 2019, Sporting very well could land the No. 1 seed as they did in 2018. For FC Cincinnati, it’s yet another setback as they close an era at Nippert Stadium. Two games remain on a tough year.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Siem de Jong’s penalty kick was a face-in-hands moment for FC Cincinnati. The Dutchman had a prime opportunity to draw his side level, and bag his first MLS goal, but struck the post.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: A game-winning goal in the second half lands Roger Espinoza the honors. It was the 34-year-old’s second goal of the season and first since March 7, which shortly preceded the league’s COVID-19 pause.