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Sporting KC reaches for top as RSL hopes to make playoffs

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While Real Salt Lake are just trying to get into the playoffs, Sporting Kansas City knows what it’s like to be at the top, and that’s where they want to be Sunday afternoon at the final whistle of their Decision Day match in Kansas City, Kan.

Kansas City (17-9-7, 58 points) is second in the Western Conference, one point behind the Seattle Sounders. A win combined with a draw or loss for Seattle would clinch the top seed for Sporting for the third time in four years.

“To be able to compete and always be a competitor at the end of the year, it takes an incredible intestinal fortitude of a group to do that and I think a really strong culture,” coach Peter Vermes told the Kansas City Star. “And I commend the players on their toughness, their mentality, and I commend the club for the culture that we have.”

Sporting has lost two in a row, with its latest a 3-1 setback against Austin FC on Wednesday in which they trailed by two goals by the 21st minute. The club hasn’t let losses build up this season: That was the first time they have lost following a defeat.

For Real Salt Lake (13-14-6, 45 points), the plan is simple: Win and they’re in. Sitting eighth in the Western Conference, the club is two points behind the LA Galaxy for the seventh and final postseason berth, and three points back of Minnesota United (fifth) and the Vancouver Whitecaps (sixth).

Since the seventh-place Galaxy are facing Minnesota, RSL would pass one of the teams with a victory, but can’t pass anyone without gaining the full three points Sunday.

Salt Lake fell 3-1 to the Portland Timbers on Wednesday, and previously lost to San Jose 4-3. They are 2-4-0 in their past six matches.

“It’s definitely good for us, knowing it’s still in our hands after everything,” defender Aaron Herrera told the Salt Lake Tribune. “The fact that it’s still in our hands is massive. We’re going to go to KC and leave everything on the field to get those three points.”

–Field Level Media

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