clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sporting KC’s Playoff Math; Can they make it?

There are only 13 games to go. In MLS you never know, but let’s check the math.

MLS: New England Revolution at Sporting Kansas City Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s pretty obvious Sporting Kansas City are having a terrible season. As of this writing, they are back to dead last in the Western Conference, despite having played more games than anyone else (and having a decent week). Kansas City have only managed 20 points through 21 games. They are now tied with Toronto FC for last in the league on points per game (0.95), but Toronto just got the most expensive player in MLS history to join their squad so that’s got to count for a few wins.

Instead of worrying about the playoffs, SKC maybe should worry about not ‘winning’ the Wooden Spoon for the worst record in the league. But that’s not how Peter Vermes thinks. Look no further than the 2019 season when Sporting weren’t officially eliminated until the penultimate game of the season, despite having a terrible year.

So you’re telling me there’s a chance...

It’s a slim one though. Five Thirty Eight puts Sporting KC’s chance at making the playoffs at just five percent. That’s actually not the worst as Toronto have just a four percent chance. KC are level with the Houston Dynamo and two percent behind D.C. United. The next worst team is the Chicago Fire at 12 percent.

So What’s the Math?

We’ve been here before. Fellow The Blue Testament writer Robert Rusert did a lot more math about five weeks ago when he asked, “How Steep is the Climb?” Turns out it’s very steep. In 2019 and 2021, the last playoff in the West spot required 48 points and in 2018 team’s needed 49 (COVID messes up the 2020 math).

So, let’s be conservative and say 49. Kansas City only have 21 points. That’s probably 28 more points needed in 13 games. That’s an astonishing 2.15 points per game just to sneak into the playoffs and that’s not even a sure thing. As a point of reference, Austin FC, with the league’s best record, are averaging 2.00 points per game.

Add to that, goal differential is the second tiebreaker (behind wins) and KC are at a negative 16 there.

So the max points SKC can get, if they win all 13 of the games they have left, is 39 points. But they’ve already faltered this week with a draw on the road against Minnesota United. Here are some possible records to get to 28 points in 13 games (W/L/D):

  • 9-3-1
  • 8-0-4

That means the minimum number of wins this team needs is eight down the stretch (and that leaves no margin for error on a loss, so probably nine). They have five wins all season. It’s not impossible, but it’s incredibly unlikely.

There are Still Reasons to Watch

Sporting Kansas City are almost surely not going to make the playoffs. So with the games they have left this season, there are plenty of ways it could go. They could continue to do what we saw midweek when they started five Homegrowns for the first time ever in a league game (Daniel Salloi, John Pulskamp, Felipe Hernandez, Cam Duke and Kayden Pierre).

Additionally, they can keep playing their U-22 guys. Logan Ndenbe and Marinos Tzionis both started midweek as well and Robert Voloder will probably start this weekend with Kortne Ford likely out.

Also, new signings William Agada and Erik Thommy will hopefully join the team soon and cut down that learning curve for 2023 by getting any growing pains out of the way this year.

There are still reasons to watch and still the tiniest glimmer of hope. I know I’ll be there until the end, even if 2022 is ultimately a season to forget.