The last few weeks have been a little disappointing for Sporting KC. Although Sporting is currently in second place in the Eastern Conference, four points behind New York Red Bulls, the team has not been dominating games as they are used to late in the season.
Kansas City travels to Columbus to take on the Crew in a very important Eastern Conference match up. With four games left in the season, and one game in hand against New York, every single point is vital if Sporting KC wants to finish atop the Eastern Conference for the third straight season. Sporting will be going up against a Columbus side that still has a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011, missing out on the MLS playoffs last year by one point.
The Crew are currently on a three game winning streak, and will hope to get a great result against an out of form Sporting KC. This will be the third meeting between the two sides this season. The previous two matches took place in Kansas City at Sporting Park, with the home side winning both games by a score of 3-2 and 3-0. The last game against Columbus took place less than a month ago. It is Columbus’ only loss in their last five matches.
Kansas City will be without starting midfielder Uri Rosell, who will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation. It will be the second game Rosell has missed all season, the first came earlier in the year due to an injury. Designated Player Claudio Bieler may find himself back in the Sporting starting lineup. He appeared as a substitute and played 34 minutes in the 0-1 loss against Philadelphia last Friday.
The loss to Philadelphia was a minor setback in Sporting KC’s Supporter’s Shield hopes. They currently sit at 48 points, four behind Shield leaders New York, three behind Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders, and one point behind Portland Timbers. Kansas City could still win the Supporter’s Shield, but they will need some results to go their way into the final four games of the season.
As the season winds down, fans may look back at the 2013 year as a bizarre one. While Sporting has been able to find points and stay in contention for first place in the Eastern Conference, they haven’t been able to play up to the standard that they set over the past two years. What is considered one of their best games of the season happened way back in March, when Sporting dominated Montreal to a 2-0 win in Kansas City. If Sporting KC could find that style of play again before the playoffs come, they will very much be a contender for MLS Cup.