United-Sporting Kansas City Preview
Now that Sporting Kansas City has clinched a playoff spot, the club is looking to finish with the best record in MLS.
D.C. United's goals are much less ambitious, as it's set for its final attempt at winning a road game this year and is trying to avoid setting an MLS record for fewest wins in a season.
Sporting Kansas City is unbeaten in its last eight home meetings with United heading into Friday night's matchup.
Results over the weekend gave Sporting Kansas City (15-10-7) a postseason berth after the club played to a scoreless draw at Houston last Wednesday. Kansas City has 52 points - one fewer than Eastern Conference-leading New York and West-leading Portland.
"It's the Supporters' Shield," center back Matt Besler told the league's official website about the race for the best record in the league. "We have a chance at it, and so we're trying to win the last two games. That's going to give us the best shot at winning. How we do that is by taking care of business against D.C. at home."
With two games remaining, United (3-22-7) is in danger of establishing a league mark for fewest victories in league history. The record is held by the 2005 Chivas USA team that went 4-22-6, although D.C. won't be able to match the league record of 25 defeats by the 1999 New York/New Jersey MetroStars.
United are 0-13-3 on the road, where they've lost seven straight. They are 0-5-3 in their last eight trips to Kansas City with four defeats in a row, and 0-5-1 in the past six overall meetings.
The league's worst team ended a three-game slide with a 1-all draw with Philadelphia last Saturday, although it blew a lead in the 90th minute.
"If you let teams hang around like that and you don't get the second, third or fourth goal, eventually they're going to throw enough numbers forward and get the ball in the box where things happen like that," coach Ben Olsen said.
Defender Dennis Iapichino took the blame for allowing the Union's Jack McInerney to score the tying goal. He's looking to make amends this weekend.
"Now we have to do our best Friday against Kansas City," he told United's official website. It's a good opportunity. I want to show how I can help the team and how I play. I want to do my best."
No team has scored fewer goals than the 21 by D.C., which now faces one of the best goalkeepers in the league. Kansas City's Jimmy Nielsen is tied for the MLS lead with 12 clean sheets after gaining his second in a row last week.
"You've got to show form at the right time," Nielsen said. "All of that – physical, mental, tactical – I think we're right where we should be."
It's uncertain how much Sporting star Graham Zusi will be able to contribute Friday. Zusi played the entire match for the United States in a 3-2 victory at Panama on Tuesday, scoring in his second straight game for his country in a five-day span.
Defender Aurelien Collin is suspended for yellow-card accumulation while Besler will return after missing the Houston match while with the U.S. team.
Kansas City beat D.C. 1-0 at home April 5 and the teams drew 1-1 in Washington on May 19.