After a 0-0 home tie with Houston Dynamo on Sunday evening, Sporting Kansas City extended its winless streak to four games, its longest of the season.
With the result, Kansas City clinched a spot in the 2017 playoffs, but dropped from second to fourth place in the Western Conference.
Late substitute Latif Blessing whiffing the ball two yards out from an empty net in the 95th minute summed up what was a fruitless night for Kansas City.
“Dominated. Didn’t give anything away. Should have scored,” said Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes, summing up the game bluntly.
Despite having 27 shots on goal, including hitting the bar twice and a saved header on the Houston goal line, along with Blessing’s miskick deep into stoppage time, Kansas City could not put the game to bed.
“If you’re two yards away from goal, goalkeeper is to your left, you’ve got ten feet of the goal in front of you, you’ve got to stick it into the back of the net,” Vermes said. “Unfortunately, I can’t get my foot on the field right now.”
“We’ve put ourselves in a difficult position again, after getting two points in the last four games, which hasn’t been good enough,” said Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber. “So now we have a similar position we’ve put ourselves in in the last three years.”
Kansas City made a habit of finishing regular seasons on a poor streak, only gaining two points from their past four games, with only one game left ahead of them, on the road against Real Salt Lake on Oct. 22.
In 2016, Kansas City managed to gather eight of its last 15 available points, seven points out of 15 in 2015, and just four points in 2014.
Feilhaber acknowledged that Kansas City must get a road win against Salt Lake City to secure home field advantage in the first round of the MLS playoffs, despite Kansas City having won just two of its 16 road games this season.
With a win, Kansas City could vault back up to second place, guaranteeing a bye through the first round of the playoffs. Even if second place does not fall in Kansas City’s hands, it will least guarantee home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
A tie could potentially set up Kansas City with the third seed in the West and a home game against the sixth seed, currently San Jose Earthquakes, or drop them down to fifth, forcing an away game against the four seed.
A loss will possibly drop Kansas City to fifth place if Houston Dynamo win at home to Chicago Fire, which would then set up a road game against either the Houston Dynamo or the Seattle Sounders.
“It’s a much more difficult task right now than it was four games ago,” Feilhaber said.
Kansas City’s final regular game of the season is set for a 3 p.m. kickoff in Real Salt Lakes Rio Tinto stadium on Sunday, Oct. 22.