Pick Your Poison

Joe Camporeale-US PRESSWIRE

A look at Sporting Kansas City's potential opponents in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.


The five Eastern play-off teams are set, but there is uncertainty as to whom Sporting Kansas City will face in the conference semi-finals. Here is a review of Sporting Kansas City's potential opponents for the post-season prior to this week's regular season action. Plan your rooting interests accordingly.

D.C. United

Odds Sporting KC will face D.C. in the Eastern semi-finals: 11%*

Season Results & What Made that Game Memorable:
March 10th: D.C. United 0 - Sporting KC 1 (season opener)
August 11th: Sporting KC 2 - D.C. United 1 (the game after the USOC Final)
Note: D.C. United has not won in Kansas City since 2007.

Last 5 games: WWDWW

Injury Watch:
OUT: FW Josh Wolff (lower back disc herniation); MF Dwayne De Rosario (L knee MCL sprain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Daniel Woolard (concussion-like symptoms); MF Stephen King (L hamstring strain); FW Long Tan (L ankle sprain)

Summary:
Sporting KC has a perfect record against DC United this season, however United is playing well in recent weeks and has a slight chance of overtaking Sporting KC for the Eastern Conference top spot.

Fear Factor:
Relatively little. This would be one of the better match-ups for Sporting KC in the playoffs. While United's late charge up the standings reminds me of the 2011 Sporting team, D.C. are 0-7-1 on the road against 2012 playoff teams. Kansas City has demonstrated they can get results on the road, and it is unlikely that they would be upset in a two-game series to a D.C. side that hasn't made the playoffs since 2007.

Chicago Fire

Odds Sporting KC will face Chicago in the Eastern semi-finals: 13%

Season Results & What Made that Game Memorable:
May 12th: Chicago 2 - Sporting KC 1 (the 2nd-half meltdown)
June 29th: Sporting KC 0 - Chicago 1 (the unbreakable Sean Johnson Game)
September 28th: Sporting KC 2 - Chicago 0 (Zusi-fest at the Eastern Conference showdown)

Last 5 games: WLLWL

Injury Watch:
OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); MF Wells Thompson (L ankle contusion); QUESTIONABLE: MF Pavel Pardo (L calf tightness)

Summary:
Frustrations were lifted after Kansas City finally beat Chicago last month. The Fire are struggling late, letting a near-certain top 2 spot in the conference slip away. These two teams have faced off only one time in the playoffs despite all of the history and (unrequited?) bad blood between these fan bases. You may remember MLS Cup 2000.

Fear Factor:
Sean Johnson (v.): The ability of a very average goalkeeper to look awful a week before a game only to make ridiculous, incredible, inexplicable stops at the expense of Sporting Kansas City. Used in a sentence: If Sean Johnson Sean Johnson's us, we're toast. KC beat Chicago last month with Pavel Pardo out due to injury. If he is playing well then concerns of a Sporting defensive breakdown leading to an early playoff exit go through the roof.

New York Red Bulls

Odds Sporting KC will face New York in the Eastern semi-finals: 37%

Season Results & What Made that Game Memorable:
August 26th: Sporting KC 1 - New York 1 (the NYRB Zero-Shots-on-Goal Game)
September 19th: New York 0 - Sporting KC 2 (the Y'ore Not Unbeatable at Home Game)
October 20th: New York 0 - Sporting KC 0 (the Jimmy Neilsen Experience)

Last 5 games: LDWLD

Injury Watch:
OUT: DF Brandon Barklage (L plantar fascia injury); GK Ryan Meara (L hip surgery)

Summary:
A great September game sandwiched between a frustrating score line in August and a frustrating effort in October. These two teams should be very familiar with each other should they face off in the opening round.

Fear Factor:
Fair. New York has so many front office distractions that players may be more worried about keeping their jobs than putting together a run in the playoffs. Red Bulls have not strung together two consecutive quality efforts all season, but they have so much talent laying about that the concerns of a sudden uptick in form can not be discounted.

Houston Dynamo

Odds Sporting KC will face Houston in the Eastern semi-finals: 40%

Season Results & What Made that Game Memorable:
July 7th: Sporting KC 0 - Houston 0 (the 104-Degrees-At-Game-Time Game)
July 18th: Houston 2 - Sporting KC 1 (the Peterson Joseph Red Card)
September 14th: Sporting KC 1 - Houston 1 (Sapong's 93rd minute Header)

Last 5 games: DLWDW

Injury Watch:
PROBABLE: MF Brad Davis (L calf strain)

Summary:
Houston has been a thorn in Kansas City's side all season. The Dynamo are a disciplined team, but they have saved their best defensive efforts for their games against Sporting KC. Houston has earned 7 points and 3 goals from just 18 shots. Sporting KC has failed to tally (pun!) a win against Houston in over a year.

Fear Factor:
Huge, giant, overwhelming queasiness. The Terror has a color and it's bright orange.


*Percentages calculated using
SportsClubStats estimations for Sporting KC if they finish 1st or 2nd, and assuming the home team in the play-in game wins an MLS average 62.1% of the time.

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