Kansas City, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Playoff-bound Sporting Kansas City will
host D.C. United at Sporting Park on Friday with the hopes of attaining
maximum points in a bid to improve its postseason position.
Sporting comes into the weekend in second place in the Eastern Conference on
52 points, one point shy of Red Bull New York. That leaves Sporting's hopes of
clinching top spot in the East out of its own hands as it must rely on New
York to drop points.
But Kansas City can still play for second place in the division, giving
Friday's clash with lowly D.C. United plenty of meaning.
Peter Vermes' side will also view its final two regular season matches as an
opportunity to build momentum that hopefully will carry over to the playoffs.
Sporting already has something of a head of steam, entering Friday's contest
with a 4-1-1 record in its last six league encounters.
Most recently, SKC played to a scoreless draw with the Houston Dynamo at BBVA
"The game was congested because of the environment," Vermes said after the
affair. "It was a battle. It's never easy at the end of a season like this
when teams are trying to get points and chasing it. Credit to both teams, I
think both of us tried to pull something out.
"Our goalkeeper was good and he had a couple of really good saves. And then we
were unlucky on a couple of chances; ball squirted here and there a couple of
times. At the end of the day it was a good point on the road for us."
But while Sporting has its sights on postseason soccer, D.C. already is
looking to the future.
United have spent much of the season in the Eastern Conference cellar,
entering Friday's tilt with a league-worst 16 points.
The notion of playoff soccer at RFK Stadium this season was scrapped long ago,
but it has afforded head coach Ben Olsen the opportunity to size up his squad
and evaluate which players will be returning for the next campaign.
One man who seems certain to suit up for United in 2014 is Nick DeLeon, who
produced a spectacular goal in the club's 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union
last time out.
"In the numbers department, it has been a slow year, but when Nick's healthy
and fit, there are not many better than him. He's a special player," Olsen
said after the tie.
D.C. and Sporting have met twice already this season as Kansas City earned a
1-0 win on home soil on April 5 before they played to a 1-1 draw at RFK on May
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