Both the Columbus Crew and Sporting Kansas City will be fighting on Sunday afternoon at Crew Stadium (4:00 ET). However, while Kansas City will be fighting for the MLS Supporters' Shield with a postseason spot already locked up, the Crew will just be hoping to move into playoff position.
Kansas City is currently in first place in the Eastern Conference with 58 points (17-7-7). They are only three points behind the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes. With three games remaining, Sporting will want to win out for their best chance of picking up another piece of silverware this season, as they already won the U.S. Open Cup back in August.
The Crew, after a recent swoon of form, find themselves just outside the last playoff spot in the East. The top five teams make the postseason, and Columbus is currently one point behind the Houston Dynamo for the final spot. The Crew are 14-11-6 on the season (48 points).
Both teams are coming off rather big wins. The Crew defeated the Philadelphia Union at home last Saturday, 3-2, after a late, but controversial, Milovan Mirosevic goal. Kansas City continued their league domination with a 2-0 home defeat over the Chicago Fire.
In fact, Sporting's last loss came way back on July 28th, and it was none other than Columbus who defeated them. The game was the second meeting between the two teams in 2012. Jairo Arrieta's brace was enough to steal three away points for the Crew in the 2-1 win. The teams also met on July 14th at Crew Stadium, with Kansas City coming away as 2-0 victors.
Columbus will be without defensive midfielder Danny O'Rourke, who is suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Other than O'Rourke's absence, coach Robert Warzycha should have his choice for the starting lineup with some players only suffering from minor injuries.
Kansas City boasts a dangerous attack, along with a sturdy defense. Leading the line is forward Kei Kamara with 11 goals in MLS this year. Supplemented with C.J. Sapong and Graham Zusi, MLS's assist leader with 14, Sporting are always a threat to score.
Prediction: Crew 2-1 SKC
Most signs point to a Sporting Kansas City win on Sunday. They are fighting for the Supporters' Shield and are rolling over most teams in their path. However, the Crew can no longer afford to drop points. With a pre-match dedication to Kirk Urso at 3:15, Columbus will have the soccer gods on their side tomorrow afternoon.