Despite missing the playoffs themselves, Sporting Kansas City players and staff took the opportunity to dash the Seattle Sounders’ playoff hopes in their final game of the 2022 season at Children’s Mercy Park.
A goal from Willy Agada and a clean sheet from the Sporting KC back line resulted in a 1-0 win that knocked their Western Conference rivals out of the playoffs.
The Sounders hadn’t missed the playoffs since joining Major League Soccer as an expansion franchise in 2009.
Sporting KC were energetic and had Seattle on their back for the majority of the first half. Sporting netted seven of nine shots in the first half, and it took a Herculean effort from Sounders keeper Stefan Frei to keep KC off the scoresheet for 40 minutes.
In the 41st, Agada scored his eighth goal since joining in July. Daniel Salloi found it with a pass; Agada controlled the ball with his first touch and beat Seattle defenders to fire it with his next.
“It’s very reassuring to see how the team can perform,” said Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes. “Seattle is a very good team. We know it, and they know it, but it’s not easy to play the way we do and to be able to control a game the way we do. And the guys do it against the best.
Seattle came close to scoring early in the second half, but Fredy Montero shockingly scuffed his shot away from the net when he had acres of space and time to choose a shot into the middle of the penalty area .
Kansas City goalkeeper John Pulskamp didn’t have much to do in this one thanks to the efforts of Sporting KC’s backline. Ben Sweat made several crucial clearances in front of goal, including one off the goal line in the first half.
Sporting controlled the rest of the game, earning their sixth straight home win while going seven straight games unbeaten. KC have lost just one loss in the last nine matches.
Sporting KC captain Johnny Russell didn’t feel like ending Seattle’s playoff hopes was the main motivation. It just wasn’t about dropping points at home, something he says is part of the club’s DNA and needs to be recovered.
“We knew exactly what we needed to do to finish the season strong,” Russell said. “We finished strong at home, and that’s what we did.”
Sporting KC (11-15-7) remains in 12th place in the West but tied on points (40) with the Sounders. In their first 24 games of the season, Sporting KC got 20 points in total, the same tally as in their last nine games.
While their form over the past month hasn’t been enough to get them into the playoff picture, it has allowed for a return to form – and the expectations fans have of the club.
“If we keep playing the way we are in the last month and a half of next season, teams will start fearing us again,” Russell said. “I think they did it recently. We feel good about ourselves again, confident in what we are capable of.
Sporting KC travel to Dallas next Sunday, October 9, for the team’s final game of the season. This match is currently scheduled to kick off at 4pm Central Time.
This story was originally published October 2, 2022 6:37 p.m.