Despite being out of the playoff picture themselves, the players and staff of Sporting Kansas City took the opportunity to spoil the Seattle Sounders’ playoff hopes in their final match of the 2022 season at Children’s Mercy Park.
A goal from Willy Agada and clean sheet from the Sporting KC back line resulted in a 1-0 victory that eliminated their Western Conference rivals from playoff contention.
The Sounders had not missed the postseason since entering Major League Soccer as an expansion franchise in 2009.
Sporting KC was energetic and had Seattle on its back foot for the majority of the first half. Sporting put seven of nine first-half shots on target, and it took a herculean effort from Sounders keeper Stefan Frei to keep KC off the scoresheet for 40 minutes.
In the 41st, Agada turned home his eighth goal since arriving in July. Daniel Salloi found him with a pass; Agada controlled the ball with his first touch and beat the Seattle defenders to shoot it with his next one.
“It’s very reassuring to see how the team can perform,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “Seattle is a very good team. We know that, and they know that, but it’s not easy to play the way that we do and be able to control a game the way that we do. And the guys do it against the best.”
Seattle nearly scored early in the second half, but Fredy Montero shockingly scuffed his shot wide of the net when he had acres of space and time to pick out a shot from the middle of the penalty area.
Kansas City goalkeeper John Pulskamp didn’t have a ton to do in this one thanks to the efforts of the Sporting KC back line. Ben Sweat made multiple crucial clearances in front of the goal, including one off the goal line in the first half.
Sporting controlled the rest of the match, claiming its sixth consecutive home win while making it seven straight games unbeaten. KC has 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 was simply not dropping points at home, something he feels is part of the club’s DNA and needed to be regained.
“We knew exactly what we had to do to finish the season strong,” Russell said. “We finished at home strong, and that’s what we’ve done.”
Sporting KC (11-15-7) remains in 12th place in the West but level on points (40) with the Sounders. In their first 24 matches of the season, Sporting KC earned 20 total points, the same total as they’ve earned in their last nine games.
While their form over the last month wasn’t enough to get them into the playoff picture, it provided a return to form — and the expectations fans have of the club.
“If we continue to play the way we are in the last month and half next season, teams will start fearing us again,” Russell said. “I think they have recently. We’re back to feeling good about ourselves, confident in what we’re capable of.”
Sporting KC travels to Dallas next Sunday, Oct. 9, for the team’s final match of the season. That match is currently scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m. Central Time.