After a brutal start in the group stage two weeks ago, Sporting KC rebounded and ended up winning Group D. Now they’ll face the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Round of 16.
It wasn’t looking good for Sporting Kansas City after they blew the match against Minnesota – their first match in the group stage – but despite the odds being stacked against them, they rattled off two straight wins and were the winners of Group D.
Considering that the win over Colorado came without Tim Melia in goal was an impressive feat for Sporting (even if the Rapids were playing down two men). They shut out Real Salt Lake earlier this week, so that RSL loss helped get SKC to the top of the group.
At the beginning of the tournament, teams were guaranteed at least three games. If they failed to make it out of the group stage, their time in the tournament was over (and if there doesn’t end up being a regular season, then their season is over as well).
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Now we’re in the knockout rounds, which means there are no draws anymore. If you win, you advance. Lose, and you’re out of the tournament. Easy enough to follow, right?
Sporting’s opponent on Sunday night (and this one is a late start, set to begin at 10:00 PM central time) is Vancouver, who had to win their final match of the tournament in order to advance to this round. They went 1-2-0 in the group stage, but did enough to get to this point.
Vancouver has just one healthy goalie on their roster, which could become a bigger storyline obviously. They also had several players not make the trip to Orlando.
While Sporting Kansas City should be the favorites in this one, it’s hard to feel overly confident considering how that doesn’t always play out the way it should. Sporting has done well in the first half of matches, but tends to falter in the second half, as we saw in their first two matches.
Even in their 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake, Sporting still allowed RSL to control the flow of the match. They can’t let Vancouver do that.
This is a match Sporting KC should win and they should hopefully be able to do it pretty handily. They’re the more talented team on paper, but sometimes that isn’t enough.
A late Sunday night match-up against the Whitecaps will determine if Sporting Kansas City advances further or if their time in the tournament is over. What do you think will happen? Will they advance or be sent packing?