Sporting Kansas City-Earthquakes Preview
While Sporting Kansas City hopes to make a big move in the Western Conference, the San Jose Earthquakes have much more on the line in their final home match.
Red-hot Chris Wondolowski will try to help San Jose keep its playoff hopes alive and extend the second-longest home unbeaten streak versus one opponent in MLS history Friday night against Sporting KC.
After going 9-2-3 from May 3-Aug. 15, Kansas City's playoff push stalled during a 1-5-2 stretch before Krisztian Nemeth's dazzling late goal in its latest game provided a 1-0 win at Portland on Oct. 3.
"I say this with all due respect," manager Pete Vermes told the team's official website. "He picked those guys apart, and the finish was fantastic. That was a fantastic finish."
Nemeth's individual effort helped Kansas City snap an 0-4-1 road winless streak. He's scored four times in his last five club and country matches combined after finishing with two goals in Hungary's 4-3 loss to Greece in Sunday's UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying match.
Dom Dwyer has a team-high 11 goals, while Benny Feilhaber and Nemeth each have 10. Sporting is the only club with three double-digit scorers but only has three tallies in its last five road games.
Kansas City (13-9-9) can clinch its fifth straight playoff appearance by earning just a draw Friday, but a win would move the club into a second-place tie with Los Angeles and within three points of West-leading FC Dallas. The Galaxy host Portland on Sunday after Dallas visits Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Sporting, however, will have to snap a 16-game winless streak (0-11-5) at San Jose that includes two playoff matchups. It's the second-longest road drought versus a given opponent in league history, behind only the New York Red Bulls' 20-game streak at New England that lasted from 2002-13.
San Jose, seeking its first playoff berth in three years after finishing last in the West in 2014, needs a victory at Avaya Stadium to avoid elimination and move into a three-way tie for fifth place with Seattle and Portland. However, those clubs will have a game in hand after Friday.
The Earthquakes are going for a season sweep of Kansas City after Wondolowski and Cordell Cato each scored twice in a 5-0 road win Aug. 19. Wondolowski has seven goals in his last seven meetings with Sporting.
San Jose's all-time leading goal scorer also has scored seven in his last nine games overall after his late goal secured a 1-all draw with visiting Vancouver in the team's most recent match Oct. 3.
Despite Wondolowski's efforts, San Jose (12-12-8) hasn't scored more than one goal in nine straight home matches. The Earthquakes, though, have recorded seven shutouts and limited opponents to 11 goals while going 7-3-6 there. They've held Sporting to nine goals during their unbeaten run at home in this series.
David Bingham, who earned the shutout in the first meeting, is third in the league in clean sheets with 11 and fourth with 101 saves.
"It's so nice to have David back there," Wondolowski told the team's official website.
Bingham, though, won't have midfielder Marc Pelosi and defender Victor Bernardez in front of him in this contest due to caution accumulation.