Opposite View: Sporting KC

Jamie Squire

The regular season comes down to a final where one team is fighting for a trophy while another is fighting for playoff survival.

It all comes down to this.

The MLS regular season will end the same way it began, with Sporting Kansas City facing the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park on NBCSN at 3:00 PM Saturday. Both teams are fighting for similar but different things. While Philadelphia has no option but to win and require help from the up to 4 teams above them, Sporting Kansas City has already clinched a bye in the wildcard round. On top of that, Sporting will also be looking for a win to boost themselves in order to win the Supporters Shield from New York, Portland and Salt Lake.

While teams vary on how important they view the Supporters Shield, I can assure you that Sporting will be going all out trying to win the Shield. One of Sporting's big goals is to get to the CONCACAF Champion's League and with the kind of lottery that is a result of the MLS playoffs, winning the Supporters Shield at this point is the easiest way to get there. In addition to the Supporters Shield having their roots solidly intertwined within Kansas City, it'll also be a great opportunity for Sporting to "paint the wall" and add another trophy in the case. Expect them to want to play spoiler to the Union's playoff hopes.

This game is going to come down to coaching and specifically how they're going to be coaching differently now that there's so much on the line. John Hackworth has no choice but to go for the win. The Union can't park the bus and they can't play for the draw. They need to find scoring opportunities and to convert often because a draw does them no good. It'll likely be a normal game for a certain point but get ready for things to pick up if the score is close in the final half hour. Even though Peter Vermes may be seen as the guy who doesn't make too many changes, he has shown that he's not afraid to make critical changes in big games. During the US Open Cup Final against Seattle, Vermes placed Graham Zusi as a winger and as you can say, the rest is history. I can't see him making changes like that, but expect him to go all out as well.

This has the makings of a classic, high scoring game. You wouldn't think that this would be high scoring knowing the two teams past history, but it very well could be. The only thing that will prevent that will be a lack of finishing from both sides. The great thing is that both teams have the same mindset although they're under different circumstances. Worst case scenario, Sporting still finishes 2nd in the Eastern Conference. In Vermes and the team's mind, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. In a way, being 7th and needing to win to have a shot at the playoffs, the Union has nothing to lose as well.

Prediction: Sporting will take the win 2-1 over Philadelphia and end the Union's playoff chances.

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