Sporting Kansas City faces Portland Thursday night in the knockout round. When Sporting KC is at their best, they can play with and beat anyone in the league. When they play down to the level of the opponents they can be as bad as any team in the league.
Dom Dwyer, Krisztian Nemeth and Benny (Jurgen who) Feilhaber have formed a potent attack this year and all of them can take a game over at times. The rise of Tim Melia and Soni Mustivar and trio of rookies have all contributed to a defense led by captain Matt Besler.
Can Sporting KC make a deep run or will they make a quick exit like last year?
All of the sites covering playoff teams were asked to do a high level preview, this is ours...
How Sporting Kansas City got to the playoffs: 14-11-9, 51pts, 6th place (tied for 4th)
What's the outlook? Sporting KC limped into the playoffs again this year. After failing to secure a playoff spot in San Jose and at home against Colorado, they got the crucial win against the Galaxy to go to the post season. Injures are healing and a run into to the playoffs could see Espinoza and Opara back in the lineup.
Upcoming opponent: Portland Timbers
How they got here: 15-11-8, 53pts, 3rd place (tied for 2nd)
Record this season between teams: Sporting KC has the edge, a slight edge in the season matchup. Scoreless draws in March and September in each city before SKC stunned the Timbers with an amazing run and finish by Nemeth.
Why Sporting Kansas City has the edge: With the matches being so close, SKC may have the edge with experience.
Why Portland has the edge: The Timbers are tough to beat at home, just 3 losses in front of great crowds.
Why we'll win MLS Cup: Sporting KC has a great record against playoff teams this year, the highest PPG and an experienced squad that has already won a championship this year.
Why we'll fall short: Sporting KC's form has not been the greatest the last few weeks, they took a big hit with injuries and have not quite regained their groove yet.