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Sporting Kansas City October Preview: Ensuring an MLS Cup Playoff Spot

Sporting KC are suddenly in a position where they can't coast to a playoff spot. We look at their final matches of the season.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

This is weird.

At the risk of being hyperbolic, Sporting KC are suddenly in a position where their playoff spot is no longer guaranteed. They picked up only seven points out of a possible 27 during August and September and have dropped to third place in the Eastern Conference.

With four matches to go, only five points separate Sporting Kansas City from sixth-placed Toronto FC, who has a game in hand. Continued poor form over the last four matches could see Toronto, Columbus or Philadelphia slip in over Sporting Kansas City.

However, that's only if the poor form continues. According to sportsclubstats, Sporting has a 97.3 percent chance of making the playoffs. Winning a couple of these last games probably gets Sporting into the playoffs, where the regular season suddenly means little and anything can happen.

All Sporting has to do is scavenge some points in these last four matches. Let's take a look at these matches and how Sporting Kansas City has done against these opponents this year.

October 3rd: Sporting Kansas City at DC United

SKC Record: 0-2-0

5/31: DC United 1-0 Sporting KC
8/23: Sporting KC 0-3 DC United

A couple of months ago, this match was looked at as one of the biggest in terms of who would win the East. Sporting KC's fall over the past few months has given DC a six point lead with only four matches to go, making the Eastern Conference nearly an unobtainable goal for Sporting KC.

This match is important for other reasons now. DC United has owned Sporting this year, including that 3-0 win that started Sporting's four-game losing streak. They have a strong defense and are nearly unbeatable at home with a 10-2-3 record. This is probably going to be the toughest game for Sporting KC in October.

October 10th: Sporting Kansas City vs Chicago Fire

SKC Record: 0-1-1

5/18: Chicago Fire 2-1 Sporting KC
7/6: Sporting KC 1-1 Chicago Fire

This is a match where Sporting KC should be able to pick up a result. Chicago has only won once in their past five games and their attack is seriously lacking with 2013 MLS MVP Mike Magee out for the season.

However, we all know how much Chicago loves to come into Sporting Park and settle for a draw. They've done it three out of the five matches since Sporting Park opened in 2011. They especially love ties this year with 16 on the year, which ties their 2011 MLS record which they tied with New York for.

This is probably the least formidable opponent Sporting KC has this month but recent history doesn't lean Sporting's way.

October 18th: Sporting Kansas City at Philadelphia Union

SKC Record: 0-1-1

5/14: Sporting KC 1-2 Philadelphia Union
8/1: Sporting KC 1-1 Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia is a team that has had a very good second half of the season and is looking to make a playoff push. They've had Sporting's number all year, pulling out two very good results in their two trips to Sporting Park this summer. They are three points out right now and will need every single point, meaning they'll play Sporting tough.

Hopefully for Sporting, their need for points and playing at home will open them up more instead of their bunkering formation they played with in their two games at Sporting Park.

October 26th: Sporting Kansas City vs. New York Red Bulls

SKC Record: 0-1-1

5/27: Sporting KC 1-1 New York Red Bulls
9/6: New York Red Bulls 2-1 Sporting KC

The regular season finale will feature a Red Bulls team that is likely in the thick of the playoff race. They currently sit fifth in the East and could bring big playoff implications into this match.

New York defeated Sporting during the four-game August losing streak and pulled out a tough result at Sporting Park earlier in May. They have a dangerous attack with Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips and could be a thorn in SKC's side this match if the defense hasn't recovered.

This is a tricky month for Sporting KC. They have a putrid record against these four teams (0-5-3) and their recent poor form does not lend much confidence. Their current magic number in terms of points is eight, meaning they'll need results in most of the matches to guarantee a playoff spot. Now, that will likely go down with other teams not picking up points but Sporting needs to perform well this month.