Red Bulls stand between Sporting, playoffs
Sporting Kansas City has a chance to clear up part of MLS' postseason picture.
The club can clinch a playoff spot by winning at home Saturday against the New York Red Bulls, who are seeking to move closer to gaining their own berth.
Sporting Kansas City (11-9-12) trails Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia by two points, while New York (9-7-16) is four points behind the Union in a crowded race.
It's been two weeks since Kansas City played a league match, a 1-all draw with San Jose on Oct. 1. The club stayed sharp with a 2-2 friendly draw with Mexican club Chivas of Guadalajara on Wednesday.
"... We wanted to win and use it as a tuneup for New York, because we need that win," midfielder Kevin Ellis told Kansas City's official website. "I think we can take some good things from it."
The physical game saw two Kansas City players draw yellow cards while Craig Rocastle was ejected for a dangerous foul.
"It was one of those games," coach Peter Vermes said. "I'm glad that our guys fought. I'm happy about that aspect. It is what it is."
The Red Bulls have two wins and a draw in their last three games following a 2-0 victory over Los Angeles on Oct. 4. New York hosts Philadelphia on Thursday in its finale.
"We all know it's a difficult place to go and win right now, but we're going to go there and compete," captain Thierry Henry told the Red Bulls' official website. "And don't forget, we still have the game against Philly at home, so those two games are going to be vital."
Henry is tied with D.C.'s Dwayne De Rosario and San Jose's Chris Wondolowski for the league lead with 14 goals.
New York has won the last three meetings with Kansas City by shutout, winning 1-0 at home April 30 as Luke Rodgers scored.
Kansas City star forward Omar Bravo missed that meeting while recovering from hernia surgery. Bravo is in his first season in MLS and will likely face former Mexico teammate and fellow designated player Rafa Marquez of the Red Bulls for the first time.
Bravo is tied with Kei Kamara for the team lead with nine goals.
"I have adapted to the play of the league," Bravo said. "I'm comfortable with it and I understand what I have to do for the team. It's not a matter of level of play."
The Red Bulls are hoping to gain at least four points from their final matches.
"Even on the road, if you can pick up a tie and go into the last home game against Philly would be great," coach Hans Backe said. "But it's so, so tight. Overall you just have to take care of your own business: perform, pick up points and don't look at the standings or what the other teams are doing."